General Information

Professor Information


Dr. Aurora Dawn Benton




(443) 561-4295

Office Hours

By Appointment

Course Description and Purpose

Building and activating a Green Team is vital for starting or continuing sustainability and corporate responsibility initiatives. Integrating sustainability throughout your hospitality and service operations is the only way to ensure those efforts will endure longer than the last person in the business who was responsible for them. A Green Team is an effective way to share the responsibilities and maintaining consistent sustainability activities even through turnover and other disruptive events that can get a business off course. It can bring together different departments around a common purpose and set of goals, enhancing organizational culture and triple bottom line impact.

Course Methodology 

The course is presented in a participative learning format. This class consists of first hand experiences on forming a green team and launching sustainability initiatives in a hospitality or service environment. Students learn through subject matter expert lecturers, presentations, case studies, best practices, online discussions and practical projects. Students are quizzed on comprehension of the course content. Course will include group and individual participation. It is important that assignments are completed so that meaningful discussion can take place.

Students who pass the course have the option of earning 3 continuing education units from Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) towards LEED credential maintenance and 2 CEUs from the International Society of Sustainability Professionals for ISSP-SA and ISSP-CSP credential maintenance.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to...

  • Form an integrative team to optimize environmental performance of buildings and operational systems.
  • Set sustainability goals and motivate your team to achieve them.
  • Conduct a sustainable purchasing audit and establish a sustainable purchasing process for items such as cleaning supplies, furniture, food, and other key components of the building and service.
  • Design and implement a Buy Local Strategy for a range of amenities, services, and building elements. 
  • Measure and articulate the benefits and results of sustainable building and service operations.

Global Learning Outcomes

Global Awareness (GA): Students will be able to describe the holistic and interrelated dimensions of sustainability.

Global Perspective (GP): Students will be able to discuss economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability through the lens of various local, national and international stakeholders and describe their rights and responsibilities towards more sustainable tourism development.

Global Engagement (GE):  Students will be able to understand ways to be globally engaged in improving sustainability in tourism and demonstrate a willingness to become and auditor for sustainable tourism.

Important Information


Please review the FIU's Policies and Netiquette webpage. The policies webpage contains essential information regarding guidelines relevant to all courses at FIU, as well as additional information about acceptable netiquette for online courses.

 As a member of the FIU community you are expected to be knowledgeable about the behavioral expectations set forth in the FIU Student Code of Conduct.

Technical Requirements and Skills

One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy. By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer's operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the "What's Required" webpage to find out more information on this subject.

Privacy Policy Statements for partners and Vendors

Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

Accessibility and Accommodation

The Disability Resource Center collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and community members to create diverse learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable. The DRC provides FIU students with disabilities the necessary support to successfully complete their education and participate in activities available to all students. If you have a diagnosed disability and plan to utilize academic accommodations, please contact the Center at (305) 348-3532 or visit them at the Graham Center GC 190.

For additional assistance please contact FIU's Disability Resource Center.

Web Accessibility Statements for Partners and Vendors

Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for additional information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.

Academic Misconduct Statement

Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

Academic Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.

Learn more about the academic integrity policies and procedures as well as student resources that can help you prepare for a successful semester.

Panthers Care & Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

If you are looking for help for yourself or a fellow classmate, Panthers Care encourages you to express any concerns you may come across as it relates to any personal behavior concerns or worries you have, for the classmate’s well-being or yours; you are encouraged to share your concerns with FIU’s Panthers Care website.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers free and confidential help for anxiety, depression, stress, and other concerns that life brings. Professional counselors are available for same-day appointments. Don’t wait to call (305) 348-2277 to set up a time to talk or visit the online self-help portal.

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Textbook and Course Materials

Instead of a textbook for this course, students will access an online lab resource called Sustainability is a Team Sport Digital Toolkit. Students will have access to a series of videos, links to the best in class reading materials on sustainability and case studies of sustainability in hospitality and tourism, worksheets that can be used in real-world scenarios. This is the same online toolkit used by hospitality professionals around the world to start and manage green teams at their properties.

In addition to all of the materials, students who successfully complete the course will receive 3 credits towards continuing education for LEED credentials (e.g. Green Associate, AP, etc.) and 2 continuing education units towards the ISSP-SA or ISSP-CSP credentials. Note that all credentials listed are issued through a separate process and this course offers continuing education units only.

To purchase and register for access to the online toolkit resources, follow this link for special FIU student pricing of $79.00.

All students must sign up for the online toolkit resource in order to access the reading materials, videos, and downloadable worksheets used in the course.

Course Detail

Attendance and Participation

This is an online class and attendance consists of watching video, reading assigned and optional materials, participating in discussions with the professor and classmates, and completing projects and quizzes. Class participation through discussions is mandatory.

Discussion Forums

Students will respond to weekly discussion forums with the following criteria:

  • The initial discussion post should be submitted by end of day Wednesday of the week they are assigned.
  • The initial post should be a minimum of 200 words.
  • The initial post should include a minimum of two outside references (can be a link to a website or an article, a page number from the textbook, reference to an academic journal article, etc.). It is acceptable to use blogs and popular articles but be sure you can support and substantiate your claims and ideas. The more outside references you use, the more credible your argument. Use APA format for in-text citations and references.
  • You should respond to a minimum of two classmates’ posts.
  • Responses to classmates’ posts should further the conversation by either expanding on the original post with new and additional ideas and research, asking questions to clarify or expand upon the original post, offer analogies or examples to support the original post, or present an opposing viewpoint in a respectful manner. Simple responses such as “I agree” or similar statements will not count towards the two responses.
  • Students should post original, quality work. Be sure to use spell check and grammar review.
  • Images, files, chart, diagrams, videos, and other documents or multimedia that are relevant to the post are encouraged but not required.
  • Discussion forum activity should occur during at least two different days during the week. In other words, do not submit your initial post and respond to two classmates on Wednesday and consider yourself done for the week. The value of the discussion is to enrich the conversation over time.
  • Discussions will close on Sunday of the week and no posts or responses after end of day Sunday will be considered in the grade.
  • Keep in mind that your discussion forum postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.
CriteriaExcellentSatisfactoryNeeds ImprovementFailurePoints Possible
Quality of Initial Post
Initial post addresses the discussion question and includes unique and relevant insights and analysis. At least 250 words.

2.0 to >1.8 pts
Initial post addresses the discussion question but answers are surface level and do not reflect deep analysis or thought. At least 200 words.

1.8 to >1.6 pts
Initial post attempts to answer the discussion question but does not fully address the topic. Less than 200 words.

1.6 to >1.2 pts
Little or no attempt at responding to the discussion

1.2 to >0 pts
2.0 pts
Follow up to classmates
Responds to 3 or more classmates AND responses are high quality and extend the learning and exchange of ideas.

1.25 to >1.12 pts
Responds to 2 or more classmates AND responses are high quality and extend the learning and exchange of ideas.

1.12 to >1.01 pts
Responds to only 1 classmate OR responses do not extend the conversation or learning.

1.01 to >0.5 pts
No responses to classmates.

0.5 to >0 pts 
1.25 pts
Use of resources
Initial post and/or follow up posts contain at least 3 links to relevant resources.

1.0 to >0.9 pts
Initial post and/or follow up posts contain 2 links to relevant resources.

0.9 to >0.8 pts
Initial post and/or follow up posts contain only 1 link to relevant resources or resources refenced but not cited or linked.

0.8 to >0.5 pts
No external resources used in post or follow up.

0.5 to >0 pts
1.0 pts
Posts and follow up use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and citations and references formatting (APA).

0.75 to >0.68 pts
Posts and follow up contain some writing errors or do not employ proper APA formatting for references.

0.68 to >0.59 pts
Posts and follow up contain many errors and do not employ proper APA formatting for references.

0.59 to >0.45 pts
Writing in posts and follow up is difficult to read or understand.

0.45 to >0 pts
0.75 pts
Total: 5.0

Video Call with Instructor & Green Team Recruitment Pitch

Each student will have a 30 to 60 minute call with the instructor at about the midpoint of the semester. This is a vital check point to make sure your project is on track and you are committed to the learning objectives and assignments of the course. For this call, be prepared with:

  • All toolkit submissions up through Module 4 (this may be due after your scheduled call so have a draft ready to review).
  • Responses to instructor feedback on toolkit submissions.
  • A Green Team recruitment pitch. Imagine at your next staff meeting, your boss gives you a chance to sell your peers on joining the Green Team. Plan to share a 1 to 3 minute pitch (you can use slides or visuals, if you like). 
  • Ideas to share about the sustainable purchasing audit.

This call and recruitment video is worth 10% of your grade and must be completed between October 1 and October 20. In early October, the instructor will send a list of available times for the video call.


Each student will take 10 quizzes with 10 questions each. Students have 30 minutes to take the quiz. The quizzes are quick exercises designed to ensure comprehension of video and reading materials found in the online digital toolkit.

Quizzes are due by end of day Friday on the week they are assigned and no late quizzes will be accepted.

In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements.

All assessments will auto-submit when (1) the timer runs out OR (2) the closing date/time is reached, whichever happens first. For example, if a quiz has a closing time of 5:00 pm but the student begins the exam at 4:55 pm, the student will only have 5 minutes to complete the quiz.

Assessments in this course are not compatible with mobile devices and should not be taken through a mobile phone or a tablet. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.

Project Assignments

The project for this course is designed to give students a real-life opportunity to apply the concepts of the course and the toolkit available in the online Sustainability is a Team Sport Digital Toolkit. For this project, each student will select a facility to be your project subject. This can be where you work (e.g. a hotel, restaurant, etc.), a place of worship or volunteer work (e.g. church or community center), a friend or family member’s place of employment, etc.

Key requirements for the project site selection are:

  • A place where the leader is interested in, or at least curious about sustainability, and willing to have conversations and consider implementing ideas from the toolkits. You should obtain permission from an authorized person to perform the assignment on their business. You may need access to certain employees or information. You should not require access to sensitive information to complete your assignment. If you need information that is not forthcoming from the business, you may find information online on the business or corporate brand website or substitute common industry data or other research. Be sure you can justify your assumptions.
  • A physical location that provides a service to the public. A virtual business, a consultancy, or professional services firms will not qualify.
  • At least 5 employees/volunteers. Remember, the idea of the course is to learn how to form and motivate teams to create and implement sustainability initiatives.
  • Approved by the instructor. In week 1, students will submit to the instructor the name, location, and website of the business they wish to conduct their project on. Ideally, the business will be in the hospitality/tourism sector, but other service-oriented businesses may also qualify at the discretion of the instructor (examples include healthcare facilities, schools, retail businesses, or professional offices).

The project assignments will draw from the Toolkit worksheets students will use throughout the course to guide an organization through the forming and launching of a green team.

Each student is responsible for the following:

  • Fill in the Toolkit worksheets to the best of your ability for the chosen organization, using input from the leaders and staff. These will be submitted as 5 different assignments per the course schedule above. Add your first and last name in the file title of your submission.
  • Communicate regularly with the key contact at the business who will be responsible for starting and/or leading the green team. The goal is for you to learn from a real-world scenario and the more you hear directly from the business, the better you will understand the challenges and dynamics of forming and managing a green team.
  • Begin working early on the final toolkit, which is a Sustainable Purchasing Audit. A minimum of 10 products is required, but that is C-level work. If you want an A, aim for at least 20 products. Note that some of the fields will be difficult to fill out and you may not be able to get exact data so fill those in using internet research or your best guess. That is how it is in the real world and this class is designed to teach you real world work!
  • Create and deliver a final presentation, per the expectations below and in the Canvas course.

The final project presentation should include the following:

  1. Project introduction, including description of the organization, background on the level of sustainability (or lack of), mission statement, brand, your relationship with this organization, etc.
  2. Green Team Process and Experience – summarize how you selected the team (include the video or slides you created for the discussion on recruitment – note this alone is worth 10% of the final grade), how people reacted, who’s on the team, the top strengths of the team, what’s missing on the team, challenges to meeting and getting initiatives going, etc. Basically you will summarize the worksheet input but do NOT copy and paste screenshots or directly from the toolkit. Present this as though you are presenting to an executive. They only want to see details on an aspect they need to manage or benefit from. In this section, it is ideal to share photos of the green team meeting or other photos that bring this to life and show it is a real project.
  3.  Describe the main project (sustainable purchasing audit) and include the following: send the worksheets/Excel template as a separate attachment, describe the top challenges in doing this part of the assignment, share some of the most interesting findings you encountered while doing this part of the project, and describe your top recommendations to the organization based on this exercise.
  4. Continuous improvement recommendations – since this course is about getting a team to get and stay engaged on a green team, provide recommendations you learned in the course on how to improve the team’s participation and effectiveness. Imagine you are giving this to a key organizational leader who can give you the support and resources you need to make the green team better. You can include things like what skills the green team needs to develop, the help you need from managers to allow staff to meet or implement green team ideas, the data you need to access, and more.

Presentation should be a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 20 minutes. The slides should be submitted in either Power Point or PDF file format. Remember to also submit the worksheets for the main project you performed (from Module 5, Parts 2).


There are a total of 100 points in this class. Your final grade will be the total of all of the points that you earned based on the activities.

Course Requirements
Total Points Available
Number of Items / Points for Each
5 discussions at 5 points each
Video Call with Instructor & Green Team Recruitment Pitch
1 at 10 points
Green Team Project Assignments

5 toolkit assignments at 5 points each

Final Presentation & Final Worksheet
Final Power Point and presentation
10 short quizzes at 2 points each

LetterRange (%)LetterRange (%)
LetterRange (%)
A95 or aboveB83 - 86C70 - 76
A-90 - 94B-80 - 82D60- 69
B+87-89C+77 - 79F59 or less

Course Calendar

Weekly Schedule

DateActivitiesTopics to be Covered

Week 1

August 26 - September 1

Online toolkit lab: Module 1

Week 1 Discussion

  • Course introduction
  • Applied exercise expectations
  • Best practices for working with a live business case as a class exercise

Week 2

September 2 - September 8

Online toolkit lab: Module 2 – Parts 1 and 3

Week 2 Discussion

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 1

Establish project scenario: by Thursday end of day of week 2, email the instructor with the name, location, description, and website of the business/facility you will use for your project

  • Popular sustainability resources and initiatives in hospitality and tourism
  • General sustainability case studies
  • Brainstorming business case options for sustainability in the assignment organization

Week 3

September 9 - September 15

Online toolkit lab: Module 2 – Part 2

Due by end of day Sunday: Getting Started Toolkit and Module 2 Toolkit fully filled out

  • Research and data points needed to build a business case
  • Pros and cons, and prioritization of sustainability initiatives based on business case

Week 4

September 16 - September 22

Online toolkit lab: Module 3 – Parts 1 and 2

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 2

  • Green team structure and logistics best practices
  • Navigating organizational dynamics to form and manage a green team
  • Identifying stakeholders and understanding their role in organizational sustainability

Week 5

September 23 - September 29

Online toolkit lab: Module 4 – Parts 1 and 2

Due by end of day Friday: Quizzes 3 and 4

Due end of day Sunday: Module 3 Toolkit fully filled out
  • Skills and knowledge for sustainability
  • Best practices for recruiting and selecting green team members
  • Relationship building for sustainability

Week 6

September 30 - October 6

Online toolkit lab: Module 4 – Part 3

Week 6 Discussion

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 5

Schedule half hour video call with Instructor (must complete between October 1 and October 20)

  • Managing in volunteer and cross-functional environments for optimal accountability and performance
  • SMART Goal setting for green teams
  • Overcoming apathy and resistance to sustainability

Week 7 

October 7 - October 13

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 1

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 6

  • Aligning sustainability with corporate strategy and brand
  • Importance of casting and reinforcing a vision for sustainability
  • The Green Team as community and customer ambassadors

Week 8

October 14 - October 20

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 2

Due by end of day Sunday: Module 4, Parts 1, 2, and 3 toolkits filled out

  • Key social and environmental issues in hospitality and service supply chains
  • Best practices for evaluating departmental purchasing practices (where and how to gather data, etc.)
  • Sustainability innovations in procurement, products, and services

Week 9

October 21 - October 27

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 2

Due by end of day Sunday: Module 5, Part 1 toolkit

  • Identifying and overcoming obstacles and objections to sustainable purchasing
  • The role of SOPs, policies, and other mechanisms to bring about change in procurement

Week 10 

October 28 - November 3

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 2

Week 10 Discussion

  • Triple bottom line impact of buying local
  • Identifying key local stakeholders to engage
  • Prioritize local social and environmental issues for the business to address

Week 11

November 4 - November 10

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 2

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 7

  • Consumer appeal and market research for local products
  • Identifying and overcoming challenges of local procurement

Week 12

November 11 - November 17

Online toolkit lab: Module 5 – Part 2 and Part 3

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 8

  • Marketing sustainability to employees, customers, and community
  • Training techniques to teach and reinforce sustainability initiatives

Week 13

November 18 - November 24
Thanksgiving Holiday – enjoy time with family and catch up on project work!

Week 14

November 25 - December 1

Online toolkit lab: Module 6

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 9

Due by end of day Sunday Sustainable Purchasing Audit worksheet and Excel file
  • Sustainability baselines and benchmarks – data points, data sources, etc.
  • Sustainability reporting best practices

Week 15

December 2 - December 8

Online toolkit lab: Module 7

Week 15 Discussion

Due by end of day Friday: Quiz 10
  • Long term organizational impact of green teams
  • Sustainability and corporate culture

Week 16

December 9 - December 14

Final presentation and project submission

Presentation schedule will be posted in the class