Greening Your Education

Saturday, October 03, 2009

School’s in! It is probably appropriate to talk a bit about courses on campus. Why? Because they can contain sustainable development content, or they can be environmentally conscious in the way they are run. We’ll touch upon the latter first because it’s pretty basic: less paper, less resources, less waste.

Tips for students and professors to green their classroom (these items generally must be mutually agreed upon)

  • Double-side your assignments, or print them single spaced or on already used one-sided paper
  • Have assignments submitted online or via email
  • Use online course material (also lowering costs to students for copyright material)
  • Encourage taking notes and not printing all slides or readings on paper
  • Buy recycled paper notebooks, or reused one-sided paper notebooks (can be purchased at Reprography)

As far as sustainable content, there are a number of courses offered that talk about issues of sustainability and sustainable development. The next blog post will likely be an offshoot of some definitions I’ve come across in the current class I’m taking, Environmental Policies, Natural Resources Management and Sustainable Development (DVM 3125), but for the instant I wanted to discuss the basics around courses offered.

Sustainability, in the many senses of the word, is garnering more interest in the public sphere. So it makes sense that more and more students are studying it, whether it is a small component of a class (an integrated approach would certainly be effective in education more students on sustainability issues) or the focus of a class. The topics and cases are abundant: developing countries, improved environmental practices in land use or corporations, technology, etc.

There are environmental studies and sciences, geography, law, engineering, management and development courses that are relevant to sustainability. Any time resources and the use of technology or management and policies are discussed; any time urban planning or climate issues are discussed, any time marginalized communities or issues of inequality are discussed – sustainability can be brought into the analysis. These courses make it more obvious how sustainability needs to be seen not as a separate theory or practise, but as an integrated approach to changing the world around us.

There are resources devoted to research on campus as well. A number of the institutes support students conducting research in a field related to sustainability – ranging from the obvious, like the Institute of the Environment, to the not so obvious, like the Institute of Women’s Studies or the Institute of Population Health.

Visit the sustainable development website for more information about curriculum choices (including a list of sustainability related courses), and other campus initiatives.

-sarah jayne

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