Sustainability Program at Elizabeth City State University

Francisco C. San Juan, Chemistry, Geology and Physics, Elizabeth City State University

At the beginning of the 2012 spring semester, the University created a Sustainability Plan, that outlines the goals and outcomes that the University wish to achieve. For that purpose, the Sustainability Committee was created. The committee was established through the Office of the Chancellor and consists of ten focus groups . Currently there are nine focus groups that the committee is comprised of:
  • Master planning
  • Environmental Operations
  • Safety and Transportation
  • Environmental Preferable Purchasing
  • Sponsored Research & Community Development
  • Design & Construction
  • Facility Mitigation
  • Recycling & Waste
  • SGA Green Team
An "Academic & Curriculum" focus group was added later. An initial suggestion to change an environmental seminar course was suggested, with the following course description:
"Explores why sustainability matters on college campuses, what policies and changes advance campus sustainability, what challenges arise in this process, and ways to overcome these challenges. Students choose a campus sustainability project on which to work, individually or in small groups, usually with more senior students who have been working on the projects for some time. Projects include working with the college's Facilities Services Dept on energy conservation or materials processing and waste stream (recycling, reducing consumption), working on the college's constructed wetland, or in the college's organic farming project."
However, the original course's format and purpose are not aligned with the description suggested above. Since I am teaching the course, I suggested that we try to incorporate a short project into the original course and try it this semester. We will try to interspace sustainability projects with the original inter-university video conference format on case studies.

The project given to the students for this semester: "How sustainable is your campus cafeteria? How does the absence or progress of sustainable initiatives in your cafeteria affect the students? How can your campus cafeteria become more sustainable?" The purpose of the assignment is to engage students in a practical environmental issue that consistently affects them, while giving them the tools to research and explore solutions for the issue.

Everytime I have the chance, I always discuss the topic of sustainability to my students. However, I really do not have a systematic plan of including the topic in the courses I am teaching. I plan to integrate sustainability lessons and assignments to one or two geology courses next fall semester, and slowly add more as the curriculum allows. Depending on the outcome, I will either make changes or continue to include other courses for sustainability integration activities.

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Sustainability Program at Elizabeth City State University (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 13kB Apr24 12)