2013-14 Participants and Materials
Sustainability across the curriculum faculty learning community
Betsy Kelba, Biology
Human health, disease, and behavior are all means of defining oneself and while we traditionally think of these attributes as resulting from the condition of our own physical bodies the reality is that we're learning that much of the human physical state might actually stem not from the functionality of our own human cells but rather from the billions of microbial cells that inhabit our bodies!
Healthy body weight, your mood, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and susceptibility to other infectious diseases have all been linked to the specific kinds of microbes that inhabit one's body. This course will provide an introduction to microbiology and explore the intersection of this scientific discipline with self-identity and cultural practices that impact one's microbiome. In the process we'll read from the scientific literature, discuss modern tools and technologies employed by microbiologists, and use quantitative reasoning skills to better understand the connection between the human microbiome and our physical selves.
Jonathan Amburgey, Psychology
Goal(s): Develop a “Sustainability Module” for PSYC 338 (Environmental Psychology), a new course offering that explores psychological perspectives on human-environment interactions.
Over the duration of the Learning Community (LC), I have been consulting with colleagues (e.g., Christy Clay, Kerry Case), locating resources (e.g., readings), and exploring various projects (e.g., involving student research projects with the Environmental Center that may benefit the campus community) in preparation for a Sustainability Module that I will be teaching in PSYC 338, beginning in the Spring 2015 academic semester. After talking with fellow colleagues in the LC this past year, I have identified possible guest speakers, as well as readings, activities, and campus projects that will be incorporated into the class to more effectively inform and involve students in issues and topics pertaining to sustainability. Much of my participation in the LC this past year has consisted of exploring resources and ideas for how to teach students about the varied, and complex issues that are important for gaining a comprehensive understanding of “sustainability”. That is, my primary goal in the LC was to learn about diverse perspectives on sustainability from multiple disciplines, the approaches and models used to study sustainability, and integrate such information into a module that would provide an informative basis for student learning.
In my own discipline (PSYC), much research exists on behavioral change approaches for facilitating pro-environmental behaviors within numerous contexts, yet there is little empirical work that examines sustainability in a more holistic manner, such as taking into consideration issues related to social justice, the influence of societal structures, natural science perspectives on environmental pollutants/toxins, loss of biodiversity, public health concerns, and management of natural resources. This LC has been especially informative for helping me gain a broader view of sustainability (beyond my own disciplinary lens), identify campus resources, and has greatly assisted my efforts to develop a learning module for students interested in these topics.
Giancarlo Panagia, Justice Studies
This redesigned course provides students with the tools to learn fundamental legal principles and theories to better formulate and articulate critical stances on the major debates driving the contemporary law of natural resources. Sustainability and the limits to Neo-Liberalism represent major theoretical premises to this course. Students learn principles conducive to sustainable production in order to maintain sustainable development in postmodern urban life.
This new design examines both natural resources law in the American system and global environmental issues. Students have a chance to study cutting edge issues like sustainable energy and focus on the legal implications of policies and technologies that seek to minimize carbon emissions in the development and delivery of energy. The learning of these policies will be complemented by the analysis and critical evaluation of the legal institutional settings in which natural resources policies are shaped and implemented. The class delves into the laws designed to promote renewable energy development but students also review existing renewable energy technologies and the practical limitations on their development, siting, and integration into the U.S. electricity grid. While this focus is on renewable energy development in the U.S., comparative examples of renewable energy laws used in other countries are considered.
Carol Jeffers, Nursing
Developed a science-based nutrition course that would meet the pre-requisite for undergraduate nursing and would meet an LE requirement. The course, which will have no prerequisites, will have appeal to students interested in health sciences, human ecology, and environmental interactions with human food production and consumption. Because the major assignment in the course can be individualized, students working on self-designed, interdisciplinary degrees involving diet and food will also be interested. The working syllabus and sustainability assignment are attached. As part of my participation in the learning community, I developed the course description, learning outcomes, a topic guide, and defined a sustainability assignment. A substantive change curriculum proposal will be submitted under the explorations component of the new LE.
Brent Olson, Environmental Studies
EC2 Website: http://ecsquared.org
The website is the most recent iteration of an ongoing effort to build collaboration, experimentation, and playfulness into how we discuss nature, sustainability and our place in the world. The EC Squared website is built on wordpress, but the real effort has been centered around thinking about what kind of conversation we would like to have, getting people involved, and (slowly) working to build a community of faculty, staff, students and other contributors. We continue to solicit contributions and have increasingly built class papers and projects around the questions posed by EC Squared. This has resulted in greater student engagement as their work has potential for a broader audience. The student work has also led to a diversity of voices on the website. As we move forward we’ll be building this community and expanding the ways the conversation happens, both in terms of more creative posts and projects, and in building links to other sustainability and place centered multi-media projects around the West.
Hikmet Sidney Loe, Art History, and Scott Gust, Speech
Art and Sustainability across Academic Disciplines. The goal of the Canvas site is to illuminate the cross-disciplinary approaches to art that can be found through the focus of a topic gaining increased exposure and urgency: sustainability.
A brief background on art and sustainability: the trajectory of artists who engaged their practice with the materials of the land has shifted from the Land arts movement of the 1960s-1970s to the present-day interest and urgency found in sustainability. While Land art was born, in part, from an interest in the natural world and its use, coinciding with the creation of Earth Day and the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability as practiced by artists’ crosses a wide section of academic fields, material uses, and interests.
A persistent theme that emerged in the work and discussions of our LC this year was the centrality of collaboration as an element of sustainability, with particular attention to institutional practices that function as inadvertent barriers to the sharing of expertise and ideas across academic and co-curricular areas. Overall, our discussions about collaboration as a practice of sustainability were richly generative, but many great ideas (i.e. a campus-wide database of experts and expertise to promote and facilitate guest lectures across programs and schools) proved difficult to implement within the scope of our LC.
Instead, we decided to establish a foundational framework for ongoing collaborations using existing campus technologies. Toward that end, we created the Canvas site “Art and Sustainability across Academic Disciplines” as the framework for a project that is cross-disciplinary, and also grounded in the discipline of art. By building a framework for resources that can grow over time, we are engaging sustainability through art across academic disciplines and cultivating the potential for future collaborations.