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Florida Gulf Coast University

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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

Faculty and Staff Associates


The Center's work is greatly expanded by the contributions of Faculty and Staff who share a commitment to the Center's mission and affiliate with the Center.  In many cases this affiliation is formalized through the individual's Professional Development Plan and Annual Review Process.  In other cases the affiliation is informal and represents a commitment to support Center activities.

Senior Faculty Associates

The Center has designated Senior Faculty Associates in order to formalize and advance Faculty and Staff participation in Center initiatives.

Sharon Irish Bevins
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Physical Therapy
Senior Faculty Associate

Dr. Bevins is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Performance in the College of Health Professions. Dr. Bevins earned her B.S. in Physical Therapy at the University of Vermont and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Education at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She has a broad range of academic and clinical experience with the young pediatric population. She has conducted research on gross motor development of preschool children considered to be at risk for academic failure. Dr. Bevins has blended her experience and education in health professions with her strong interests in environmental health and sustainability. Her particular areas of interest are the unique environmental health risks of women and children. She has served on FGCU’s Environmental Stewardship Advisory Council for several years. In her work as a Senior Faculty Associate with the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, she encourages faculty across the university to incorporate sustainability into their annual development goals. Dr. Bevins was born and raised in Vermont, where a love of natural places began. She has a lifelong passion for nature and place-based literature with Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost, Barbara Kingsolver, and Mary Oliver among her favorite authors. She is a member of the Association for the Study of Language and the Environment and a frequent presenter at national and international conferences with relevant environmental themes.

Maria F. Loffredo Roca
Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Philosophy
Senior Faculty Associate

Maria Roca is Program Leader for Communication and Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. She holds her doctorate from New York University in Media Ecology and has been teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels for more than 30 years. She is a GreenFaith Fellow, serves as a Senior Faculty Associate of the Center for Environmental & Sustainability Education, and is currently working on a series of eco-spiritual video parables. She co-founded the award winning Wings of Hope program, an environmental education initiative that partners college students with school children in Southwest Florida to learn about important local issues. To date this program has reached more than 100,000 children.

Neil Wilkinson
Instructor, College of Arts and Sciences

Senior Faculty Associate

Neil Wilkinson is an instructor in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. He is an environmental educator with extensive classroom and field teaching experience at the elementary, middle, high, and university levels. He spends half of his time teaching a science outreach program to classes in the local school district. He acts as a liaison between FGCU, the Lee County School District’s Environmental Education Program, and the Lee County Mosquito Control District facilitating interagency cooperative and collaborative efforts among students, faculty, and staff. At FGCU he teaches the non-science majors field-based course, environmental biology and the University Colloquium, an upper level required course on environmental sustainability. His professional interests include exploring methods and practices that make science relevant to students, staying current with mosquito biology and mosquito borne diseases, studying local ecology and global sustainable initiatives. He hopes to create a program that will involve FGCU students in controlling malaria in Ghana. Wilkinson is a committed instructor and believes all of his professional efforts must relate back to the needs of his students. He strives to constantly improve his teaching and feels that he succeeds not when students score well in his classes but when they go on to learn on their own more deeply about concepts and issues discussed throughout the semester. He believes students respond more to the way we behave as teachers than what we teach. His most important goal is to encourage students to work towards creating a sustainable lifestyle, community, nation, and world.

Jim Wohlpart
Professor of English
Dean, Undergraduate Studies
Assistant Director 2004–2006, Associate Director 2006–2008,
Senior Scholar 2008–present, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

A. James Wohlpart, former Associate Director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, is a Professor of English and Dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. He is a founding member of the faculty at FGCU, having arrived in August 1994, three years before the university opened. Wohlpart was a recipient of several awards and citations at the University of Tennessee, where he received his doctorate in 1993. In the inaugural year of Florida Gulf Coast University, he received the XX Award (The Twenty) for his leadership in opening the new university. He recently won the McTarnaghan Teaching Award, awarded by the students, and the Athletic Director’s Special Recognition Award. He teaches courses in Environmental Literature and EcoLeadership. Working with a team of faculty and administrators, he received a $200,000 two year grant from the PEW Grant Program in Course Redesign in order to redesign a required General Education course entitled Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts. He has also received funds and grants to support several readings and workshops on campus, including grants from the Florida Humanities Council. He recently published Walking in the Land of Many Gods: Remembering Sacred Reason in Contemporary Environmental Literature (University of Georgia Press, 2013). With Susan Cerulean and Janisse Ray, he co-edited unspoiled: Writers Speak for Florida’s Coast (Red Hills Writers Project, 2010). With Peter Blaze Corcoran, he is the co-editor of A Voice for Earth: American Writers Respond to the Earth Charter (University of Georgia Press, 2008). His latest publications have focused on the areas of sustainability, environmental literature, and engagement with place, including articles in the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, South Atlantic Review, and Orion Online. He serves on the Board of the Estero Bay Buddies, a citizen support organization, and was a founding member of ECOSanibel (Earth Charter of Sanibel).

Brandon P. Hollingshead  
Senior Faculty Associate

Instructor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Civic Engagement at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he is also on the leadership team of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.  His academic interests are in the rhetoric of sustainability, humanities and sustainability, and service-learning.  His master’s thesis from the University of Utah was on “Crafting Principles for Sustainable Development: Rhetorical Negotiations in the Drafting of the Earth Charter and Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.”  His forthcoming book, edited with Peter Blaze Corcoran, is on Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership for Sustainable Futures.


Eric Otto
Senior Faculty Associate

Eric Otto is an associate professor of environmental humanities in the Department of Communication and Philosophy. He earned his B.A. in English from Florida Gulf Coast University, and he holds an M.A. in English and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Florida. Dr. Otto’s publications include the book Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism (2012) as well as chapters in the recent books Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction (2014) and Learning for Sustainability in Times of Accelerating Change (2012). He teaches Environmental Humanities and Themes in the Humanities in FGCU’s General Education Program, and he contributes several courses to FGCU’s Interdisciplinary Studies minor.

Other activities

The Center also provides opportunities for Faculty to meet with scholars affiliated with the Center.  Past meetings are listed below.

Sciences and Humanities in Sustainability Education, A Conversation with Alison Hawthorne Deming
On February 24, 2007 during the 2007 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, several faculty gathered with Associate Director Jim Wohlpart and poet Alison Hawthorne Deming to discuss the importance of sustainability as an overarching concept among the humanities and the sciences.

Creating Spiritual Community, A Conversation with Mary Evelyn Tucker
This was an informal conversation during the 2006 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture weekend. Such conversations provide the opportunity for Faculty associated with the Center to discuss matters of importance to them with members of our Board of Advisors. We believe these discussions contribute to the professional growth of faculty and staff and allow Advisors to better understand the University. The discussion with Mary Evelyn centered around questions of creating spiritual community. 

Environmental and Sustainability Education in Higher Education, Lunch and Conversation with David Orr
The Center and the FGCU Quality Enhancement Plan Training Institute co-hosted a student and faculty luncheon and conversation with David Orr on Friday, February 17, 2006, 12:00-1:30 p.m. The QEP Training Institute provides development activities for faculty that are teaching courses that address the two learning outcomes—ecological perspective and community involvement.  The luncheon provided attendees an opportunity to discuss the concept of sustainability in higher education with one of the leading experts in the field.