Skip to main content

Dennis DeVries — Faculty

Auburn University, Auburn, AL 

Photo of Dr. Dennis DeVries with his Spirit of Sustainability Award.

Dr. Dennis DeVries with his Spirit of Sustainability Award.

Dennis DeVries is an educator who is being recognized for the depth and breadth of his impact in one of Auburn University’s most important sustainability initiatives: the Sustainability Minor open to undergraduates in all nine colleges and schools.

Since fall term of 2011 Dennis has taught a variety of sustainability classes with distinction. He has taught a broad array of students with diverse academic disciplines and backgrounds. Classes have included the Honors College class Sustainability and the Modern World, introductory and capstone classes in the sustainability minor, and individual student projects. His goal is to nurture in his students a solid understanding of sustainability and an appreciation for its relevance to every discipline.

His commitment is evidenced by the fact that his teaching in the Sustainability Minor is above and beyond his regular academic appointment. He has not asked for nor received release from his the teaching, research and service activities expected of a full professor. His wholehearted and multi-year commitment to the sustainability minor sets him apart in terms of his impact on large numbers of students. Dennis has found that teaching sustainability classes has enhanced his research in conservation biology and the interface between ecology and fisheries/resource management. He has also found a positive impact in his work as a mentor to undergraduate and graduate students in his lab.

Dennis collaboratively co-teaches with several faculty members and postdocs from other disciplines. Discarding a typical lecture format, instructors use a creative combination of lectures, group discussions, and small group projects to improve learning. Dennis and his colleagues have found this approach so effective that they co-authored a book chapter detailing their approaches and experiences.

Dennis finds it gratifying to observe how many students show up in the capstone class after taking the introductory class, and how much students’ knowledge and appreciation for sustainability develop and mature throughout their experiences in the minor. Perhaps most gratifying, he sees that his students are prepared to take their understanding of sustainability with them beyond the walls of Auburn University and contribute to the creation of a more sustainable world.

Dennis DeVries is a Professor in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences.