School of Education alumna receives 2018 Best Teacher Award

Renee Harmon outside
Photo credit: Joe Mendoza, CSU Photography

School of Education alumna Renée Harmon (Ph.D., ’17) received the Colorado State University Alumni Association’s 2018 Best Teacher Award. Nominated by her students and selected by the Alumni Association, Harmon was one of six recipients to be honored at a celebration in April.

A passion for sustainability

Harmon fell in love with the idea of teaching thanks to positive experiences with her own teachers. She started teaching as a graduate student in 2010; since then, she has taught undergraduate communication and English courses, and graduate human resource management and sustainability courses. Harmon has experience working with adult learners and military veterans, specifically with online courses.

After earning her Ph.D in education and human resource studies with an education sciences specialization and focusing on sustainability education, Harmon has dedicated her time at CSU to researching sustainability education and literacy, and developing courses that integrate the concept of sustainability. Harmon teaches one of the foundation classes, Issues to Global Environmental Sustainability, for the School of Global Environmental Sustainability’s graduate certificate in applied global stability. In her course, Harmon covers many topics, including energy, refugee resettlement, and education.

A passion for teaching

“I enjoy working with our graduate students, as they have diverse interests in sustainability,” said Harmon. “My role is to guide them with the concepts and theory behind models to then mold their research, and I’m always so impressed with their ability to critically think and engage.”

Harmon’s dissertation, “Assessing Students’ Sustainability Literacy: The Development, Use, Analysis, and Results of an Assessment Tool,” discussed the development of the Sustainability Literacy Assessment, used by CSU in 2016. She is currently working to revise the assessment for 2018. The results of the assessment are reported to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. In 2015, CSU was named the first institution to earn a STARS Platinum rating from AASHE.

Harmon presented on the assessment at the 2017 AASHE Conference and Expo, held in San Antonio, Texas. The conference, which is associated with STARS, centered on a theme of “Stronger in Solidarity,” seeking to focus on campus sustainability communities.

Currently, Harmon is helping to develop an undergraduate degree program in sustainability.

A passion for research

In addition to teaching for SoGES, Harmon works as a research assistant and communication/social media coordinator for CSU’s Africa Center. Part of SoGES, the Africa Center is an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to connecting students, researchers, and faculty who work in Africa or have interest in Africa. Harmon has worked with the center for three years, managing events and communications, including organizing the year-end collaborative celebration event, Africa & Ale.

“I’m excited to be a part of SoGES and the Africa Center as both continue to grow and engage more learners,” she said.

The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.