The Nature of College by James Farrell

Environmental Studies 222: Campus Ecology

To prepare for the ecological revolution of the 21st century, American college students need to know more than the traditional disciplines can teach them. They need to understand the moral ecology of everyday life in America, and the daily practices that reinforce or resist the common sense of an unsustainable society. The Campus Ecology class at St. Olaf College does just that. Created by a senior student in 2004, the class helps students see the ethical and aesthetic (and practical) connections between their daily lives and the environmental crises of the planet. It’s also resulted in a book, The Nature of College: How a New Understanding of Campus Life Can Change the World (Milkweed Editions, 2010), which traces the environmental impacts of Jo and Joe College as they perform the routines of everyday life, from the dorm room to the bathroom, from the clothes closet to the cafeteria, from the parking lots to the party house.  This section of the website, therefore, describes the advantages of connecting sustainability issues to the everyday lives of students, and shares the kinds of learning goals, readings, assignments, and practices (individual and collective) that can make sustainability not just an academic subject for students, but a normal part of their daily lives.