October 21, 2009

Sustainability Lessons Abound This Week on Campus

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More than 10 departments across campus have some special activities planned for the Sustainability "Teach-in" today and tomorrow. Interwoven into lessons is information about how individuals can contribute to protecting limited resources now and in the future.

The two-day initiative is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Weatherhead School of Management faculty, the Institute for Sustainability and the University Sustainability Office. Faculty will address such issues as climate change, social justice, advanced energy, emerging economies, "green" technologies and society's relationship with the environment.

Linda Robson, the campus' sustainability coordinator, has encouraged faculty to get involved by incorporating sustainable issues relevant to their fields of study into classroom conversations.

Robson, who teaches the SAGES course, "CWRU Carbon Footprint," will have her students do an anthropological "trash" audit of 24-hours worth of garbage from the Peter B. Lewis Building. At 1:15 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, the students will start digging through bags of garbage on the lower level of PBL, separating out materials that should be recycled.

"People know about recycling and see those blue bins on campus, but for some reason do not always use them," says Robson. "Somehow we want to make the leap between awareness and action."

Digging through the garbage has been an eye-opener for her SAGES students in past as they have found about half of the garage, from a variety of buildings, was recyclable.

Other SAGES seminars are getting involved too. Three First Seminars, taught by John Ruhl, professor of physics and director of the Institute for Sustainability; Gary Chottiner, professor of physics; and Beverly, Saylor, associate professor of geological sciences, will tap the expertise of Andrew Light, the keynote speaker for Humanities Week's "Culture of Green" celebration, sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for Humanities. Light, an environmental ethicist, will visit their students and discuss environmental issues. The campus community can hear Light at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Amasa Stone Chapel.

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Mark Bassett, a SAGES lecturer, and Gladys Haddad, adjunct professor of American studies, will discuss in the seminar called Women's Education at CWRU: The Flora Stone Mather Oral History Project, how oral histories can be sustainable through digital archiving.

Elizabeth Bank says her SAGES class, Exploring a Sense of Place: the Doan Brook Watershed and Photography, will participate in the day by "exploring what the concept of sustainability means as it relates to place and community." Her students will analyze photographs they took over Fall Break that demonstrate "Loss of Place," including places that are not sustainable.

Faculty members will work sustainability into their regular classes

Students from Geological Sciences Professor Peter McCall's Environmental Studies Seminar are reading and discussing the book, End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat, by Charles Glover.

Mark De Guire says students in his "Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering" course will cover what is called "embodied energy" of engineering materials—that is energy required to produce an engineering material, from refining the raw materials to fabrication into a product.

History takes on environmental issues from the past, as Peter Shulman's survey course in American History will look at the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War of 1898 and the role of tropical commodities in attracting American economic, political and military intervention into the Caribbean in the years after this war. "It's more agro-ecological than sustainable, but alas, the concept was not one used 111 years ago!" he says.

Students in the Digital Cities course, taught by Marc Canter at the Case School of Engineering, will hear from Peter Whitehouse from the neurology department and Jon Cline from Information Technology Services about a project under development for the Intergenerational School. Canter, Cline and Whitehouse are designing programs that usesocial networks and Second Life to help elementary school students at the Intergenerational School understand environmental issues like water sheds and water systems and locally grown food and urban farms.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, October 21, 2009 11:36 AM | News Topics: Administration, Collaborations/Partnerships, Environment, Faculty, Provost Initiatives, Research, Students

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