The Nature of College by James Farrell


Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop–St. Olaf College, June 13-14

With all the environmental problems facing Americans—including global weirding, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, resource depletion, soil erosion, etc.—it’s time for the college curriculum to signal students that environmental issues are essential to their future. And students want such engagement. At St. Olaf, for example, 76 percent of our entering students consider themselves environmentalists. Eighty-five percent of first-year Oles think that environmental literacy is an important part of a college education, and 58 percent support a general education requirement for environmental literacy.  And their interest isn’t just informational or theoretical. Almost 71 percent of our students say that “one of the things I expect to learn in college is how to live an environmentally responsible life.” Your students are probably similar—they know that, for them, sustainability isn’t an abstract word. It’s their life—or not.

So plan to be a part of a workshop on Sustainability across the Curriculum to be held at St. Olaf College June 13-14 this year. Modeled on the faculty leadership workshops of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and of the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS), the gathering at St. Olaf will provide chances for individual faculty to re-think courses to see where the big ideas of their disciplines might intersect profitably with the big ideas of sustainability. And it will also provide suggestions for ways that faculty might be more involved in the sustainability initiatives on their diverse campuses.

The workshop will be facilitated by Jim Farrell and Jon Jensen from Luther College. Jon teaches courses in Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Luther College, where he’s been a leader in sustainability initiatives. Both Jon and Jim were invited to attend the AASHE curriculum workshop in San Diego in 2010, which resulted in the publication called Sustainability Curriculum in Higher Education: A Call to Action. Jon is also a board member of AASHE and UMACS, so he has finger firmly on the pulse of sustainability efforts in higher education.

Jim teaches courses in History, American Studies, and Environmental Studies at St. Olaf, including Environmental History, The Culture of Nature, Campus Ecology, and Imagining Environmentalism.  He’s  a member of the Sustainability Task Force at St. Olaf, and  the author of The Nature of College: How a New Understanding of Campus Life Can Change the World (Milkweed Editions, 2010), which explores the intersections of college culture, consumer culture and the environment.

For more on the workshop, click here.

Please join us.