Meredith College offers an environmental sustainability major, but students learn about sustainability in courses from a variety of disciplines.
This effort is supported by Meredith’s Sustainability Teaching Circle. Led by Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Erin Linquist and Sustainability Coordinator Laura Fieselman, the group has developed a definition of sustainability and set criteria for courses that are related to sustainability or focused on sustainability.
“The Sustainability Teaching Circle is a true grass roots organization of faculty and staff interested in infusing important educational content on sustainability in a wide range of courses and campus activities,” said Paul Winterhoff. “We are dedicated to advancing education on all aspects of sustainability at Meredith.”
Faculty members in art, child development, interior design, religious and ethical studies and biological sciences share ways that they have supported sustainability education at Meredith.
Assistant Professor of Art Warner Hyde, IDS 398 Honors Colloquia-Environmental Art, Ethics, and Spirituality:
“This course focuses on man’s relationship with the natural world- with the hypothesis that man is becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world, and that is a parallel for man becoming more and more spiritually disconnected. The creative process from day one has been used not to make objects- but to connect with a higher power. By making creative artworks in nature, using raw natural materials students gain a heightened sense of consciousness, nature awareness, and spiritual connection. [One project included] harvesting local clay from the banks of Jordan Lake and using it to make a quick study, which documents their experience in nature. The works were left for the rains to return the clay to its origin.”
Associate Professor of Human Environmental Sciences Paul Winterhoff, CD 450 Advanced Practicum & Seminar:
“In this course we focus in on the educational and health deficits inherent in many young children’s sedentary and predominantly indoor lifestyles. We read about and examine the loss of Biophilia (Love of nature) that is so much a part of children's natural instincts, but is not nurtured through free play and structured time in the great outdoors. Some say that many children suffer from a ‘nature deficit disorder’. We require that student teachers all plan integrated curriculum activities for children that get them outdoors and exploring. As we do this, we also educate our students about our local environments and ecology–what are the simple but amazing natural materials and places that they can explore and bring back to their students through various methods. If we teach and learn to love our own local environments, we will be taking some of the small steps necessary to restore the vitally important connection between children and the natural world.”
Professor of Human Environmental Sciences Martha Burpitt, ID 246 Interior Design Materials:
“This course offers students an opportunity to understand quality, utilization and sustainability as factors in material selection. Students research a product used in the industry from three different manufacturers comparing/contrasting each product. Among questions asked are: Is the product sustainable? What is the manufacturer’s stance on sustainability/green design? If certified sustainable or green is it 1st, 2nd, or 3rd party certification? Through this research students begin to understand the “larger picture” of sustainability in the Interior Design industry from the manufacturing site, through the manufacturing process to the finished product and its life cycle costs thereby giving them greater clarity in making sustainable choices in product specification.”
Professor of Art Jane Terry, ART 480 Digital Photography:
In a sustainability related project called “Never Enough,” students “examine the role of corporations, media and popular culture in shaping our identities, desires and lifestyles. We discuss social and environmental issues surrounding a consumer culture and view the work of contemporary photographers addressing this topic. Through their photographs, students explore their concerns or experiences with regard to these influences and issues.”
Assistant Professor of Religious & Ethical Studies Shannon Grimes, RES 345 Environmental Ethics:
“My Environmental Ethics class asks fundamental questions about our relationship to nature and how we can make ethical choices that would benefit the entire planet, not just humans. This class is heavy on discussion, and we even have formal debates on issues such as the ethics of hunting, genetic modification of foods, or whether it’s OK to displace people from homes or jobs in order to preserve endangered habitats. I don’t tell students what to think or do, but rather try to help them evaluate competing claims more closely and understand the environmental, economic, and social issues at stake.”
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Erin Lindquist, BIO 225 Environmental Science:
“We discuss sources and uses of traditional and alternatives forms of energy, and how the extraction, use, and emissions of fossil fuels impacts environmental and human health. During this class unit, the students conduct an energy audit of their dorm rooms, apartments, or homes. To conduct this real-life experiment, students keep a daily log of their energy use in kWh.
Students record their energy use in a spreadsheet and calculate their daily, weekly, monthly, and annual use of energy given their typical behaviors. They also calculate their carbon emissions based on their recorded energy use. After recording their typical energy-use, students choose one behavioral change which is predicted to decrease their consumption of energy.
Student behavioral changes have included charging their laptops less, using their overhead lights less, and unplugging electronic items such as DVRs when not in use. Students record and calculate energy use and carbon emissions after their behavioral change, and determine how much energy they save with their change. Students present their findings in both written and oral formats. Students also learn how to maintain a database and make graphs which are relevant to their individual data. A summary report includes the students’ reflections on the change at personal and community levels.”
For more information on sustainability at Meredith, visit www.meredith.edu/sustainability.
Meredith Ranks High in Student Engagement Survey
Inauguration Steering Committee Members Named
Meredith Courses Cover Sustainability in Variety of Ways
The Great Shutdown of 2011: Energy Saving Tips for Meredith's Winter Break
Have you presented research or attended a professional meeting recently? Has your department earned an award? Share news of these accomplishments and more with the Meredith community. Faculty and staff are invited to email items to Melyssa Allen, “Campus Connections” editor, at email@example.com.