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UTSC classrooms go green

The Green Courses Recognition Program asks professors to abide by a set of best practices for reducing the environmental impact of their programs

UTSC faculty are reducing the environmental impacts of their courses by cutting the amount of paper they use. So far, three faculty members have been formally acknowledged through the Green Courses Recognition Program offered by U of T’s Sustainability Program.

The courses are among 91 university-wide which have received the designation. They’ve reduced paper use by taking steps like asking students to print assignments single-spaced on both sides of the paper, or by producing lecture slides with multiple slides per page, or by making as much material available online as possible.

“I recall very vividly 13 or 14 years ago a student coming up to me and saying, ‘I think you use too much paper. Don’t you care about the trees?’“ says Karen McCrindle, a UTSC senior lecturer in French who received the designation for several of her courses. Ever since, she says, she has worked to reduce the amount of paper generated by her courses.

Tim Lang, UTSC sustainability coordinator, says that the recognition program asks professors to abide by a set of best practices for reducing the environmental impact of their programs. To be certified they can go to the sustainability office certification website and fill out a self-assessment.

“I think, especially being an ecology course, that it’s important to stick to the ethos of what we teach,” says Marc Cadotte, UTSC professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, who also received the recognition for his course.

For Dan Riggs, UTSC professor of biological sciences, the impetus for the certification came from his teaching assistant, Melissa Cheung. They turned the course, Molecular Aspects of Cellular and Genetic Processes, into a paperless course. Except for the textbook, all material was online, including lecture slides, assignments and sample question answers.

Faculty who want to receive the certification can go to the sustainability office website, fill out a short self-assessment form and return it to the office by Sept. 16.

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