From the Dean... Welcome to the ESF Open Academy
Looking back… In 2001, we changed the name of ESF's office of "Continuing Education and Non-resident Programs" to "ESF Outreach". For starters – it was shorter! More importantly, this change reflected a renewed vision, broader aspirations, and a national trend. A spirit and commitment to higher education's "third mission" was reflected in name changes at campuses such as Oregon State University (Division of University Outreach and Engagement), Pennsylvania State University (Penn State Outreach), and University of Georgia (Public Service and Outreach). We were in pretty good company.
Looking ahead… Our College community is committed to being a leader in the evolving higher education landscape. In this spirit of ongoing improvement and innovation, we have renamed ESF Outreach the ESF Open Academy. This new name represents an academic unit that encompasses the College's Summer Semester, Academic Year Visiting Student, Professional and Public Education Programs, as well as a renewed commitment to Online Educational programming.
In the near term, you may get the impression that we are all about online education. A lot of our attention will indeed focus on this newest part of our educational portfolio. Nevertheless, you and our learners will also have opportunity to learn about and participate in well-established programs that have earned ESF state-wide and national recognition.
The New York State Green Building Conference (looking ahead to its 16th consecutive year) was recently recognized by Greening USA, a Syracuse-based not-for-profit organization that promotes community sustainability, as one of their 2016 Sustaining Our Community Award recipients. This award recognizes organizations, projects and individuals that contribute to the sustainability of our community and demonstrate commitment to environmental, economic and social justice, and stewardship.
The Green Building Conference provides ongoing professional education, professional licensing credits, and hosts nationally-recognized academic, industry, and public sector leaders as speakers (e.g., Jeff Speck, Principal, Speck & Associates LLC; Anthony Leiserowitz, Director, Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, Yale University; Silda Wall Spitzer, Senior Advisor, New World Capital Group; Tedd Benson, Founder and Owner, Bensonwood; Alex Wilson, Founder, BuildingGreen, Inc.; Dan Reicher, Executive Director, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University; and Sarah Susanka, Architect, cultural visionary and bestselling author of The Not So Big House).
So what's really new… In a word (or two), online education. We are working to make online education programs a key part of ESF's educational offerings. Online learning activities are similar to those we've all experienced in traditional courses, that is, students read course materials, write papers, do research, complete graded assignments, and communicate with their instructor and fellow students. However, the course design facilitates these activities through an online network. Learning in this format is both interactive with faculty and collaborative with other learners.
To help achieve this goal, we are formally establishing the ESF Open Academy, as well as the ESF Teaching and Learning Collaboratory (TLC). The TLC is a teaching/learning center that encourages and supports innovative and effective teaching and learning. The TLC will directly support our faculty as they adapt and create new programs for online delivery for additional students. Near-term priority will be on faculty and the courses that are part of the College's online certificate and degree portfolio, along with programming and approaches that are broadly beneficial to all ESF faculty and graduate teaching assistants.
As we work to expand ESF's reach and impact, we need your active support and involvement. Your thoughts and questions are always welcome and will be appreciated - thank you!
Dr. Chuck Spuches, Dean