Initial Publication Date: September 26, 2006

Sustainability Courses and Activities

The following are courses and activities that sustainability workshop participants have submitted.
  • American Studies
    • Green Museum: Students Investigate Everyday Stuff & Its Environmental Impact, Matthew Rohn, St. Olaf College, inspired by colleague Jim Farrell's American Studies Museum and the book by John C. Ryan et. al., "Stuff: the secret lives of everyday things". Summary: This activity has 2 major components that can be done separately. 1)Students were asked to keep their eyes open throughout the semester for common items (a light bulb, an advertisement, a styrafoam cup, etc.) and contribute one such item every 4 weeks to our show-and-tell box of things that provoked people to think about everyday life and environmental issues. We spent a class session discussing some of that 4-weeks findings. 2) At a given point, students had to chose one of the items submitted or propose an item of their own to exhibit publicly at the end of the semester along with a "label" (which was a 1-page abstract) related to a 10-page research paper into important environmental lessons the person's object taught. One, for example, displayed a can containing some USDA organic food item, which the individual had used to research how "organic" has been defined and relates to public policy, special interests, politics, etc. Another showed a roll of toilette paper and had researched the environmental impact of how it is made and comparative usage of toilette paper by Americans versus people in other countries with information about why differences in usage exist from a cultural perspective.
    • Sustaining US, Jim Farrell, St. Olaf College, Summary:This assignment is a final exam for an American Studies course, asking students to apply American Studies thinking to the issue of sustainability. This exam can be done individually or in groups.
  • Environment and Technology Studies
    • Sustainability at Carleton, Suzanne Savanick, Carleton College, Summary: This class will focus on the concept of sustainability: What is sustainability? What is sustainability in practice? What does sustainability mean to Carleton? As a main project, the class will create potential sustainability principals for Carleton and present these principals to the Carleton community for Campus Sustainability Day on October 25th. By focusing on Carleton, we will be able to apply the concept of sustainability to a real world institution. In addition, students will be able to describe energy and materials flows through an institution and articulate a sustainability vision for an institution.
  • German
    • Intermediate German II, Karen R. Achberger St. Olaf College, Summary: German 232, a fourth-semester German language course focusing on contemporary German society while targeting intermediate language proficiency. To help students to improve their language skills, all class meetings and course materials, including the syllabus, are in German. This course includes a section on sustainabilty.
  • History
    • Big Box Briefing Book Research Project, Eric Fure-Slocum, St. Olaf College Summary:In this project for "Wal-Mart America," we will develop a briefing book for public officials. We also will hold a public session near the end of the semester, inviting officials and citizens to learn about and discuss our work on this project. The overall goal will be to tackle questions about the historical development of Wal-Mart America and provide guidance (in the form of questions and/or conclusions) to public decision-makers. In doing so, we will ask how these histories of Wal-Mart America fit narratives of growth, decline, and sustainability. We will address these questions from both local (Cannon River watershed) and state (Minnesota) perspectives.
  • Political Science
    • Sustainable Development Debate—An In-Class Simulation Exercise, Julian Westerhout, Carleton College, Summary: This activity is designed to stimulate debate and discussion regarding the widely divergent positions held by various international actors regarding what sustainable development is and how it might be achieved.
    • Readings and Class Discussion on Sustainability and Sustainable Development, Noha Shawki, Carleton College, Summary: Students are asked to read book chapters and/or journal articles about the efforts of international intergovernmental organizations to promote sustainability and sustainable development. The readings are completed prior to the class meeting during which they are discussed. The discussion of the readings will focus on applying the theoretical approaches to the study of international organizations to the study of organizations promoting sustainability.
  • Sociology
    • Urban Sociology Adrienne Falcon, Carleton College Summary:

      In this course we explore ideas about cities and humans who live there through a series of lenses including: city as symbol, city as location of assimilation and integration and the opposite, city as a site of segregation and extremes of power and capital. How do cities work and for whom? This course will focus on two main themes, on the one hand how do built spaces affect the people in them and in turn, how do people affect the cities built around them. A core component of this question is to consider the sustainability of cities.

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