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Administration & Sustainability Club Announce New Degree

A year ago, the Sustainability Club was a group of students interested in sustainability and preservation. Now, there’s a sustainability degree offered to all

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In Southern Indiana, environmental preservation hasn’t ever necessarily been popular. Though sustainability has been an offered study in Bloomington and South Bend for years, one group at IU Southeast has made great strides in student involvement and participation. Now, there is a sustainability degree program at IU Southeast.

According to the U.S National Academy of Sciences, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” According to NASA, 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree.

When It’s Available

Lucinda Woodward, assistant professor of psychology and international studies, is a member of the Sustainability Council and teaches a course on Environmental Psychology. As a founding member of the faculty for the Sustainability and Regeneration major, she said the program is two years in the making.

According to Woodward, the program is the “brainchild” of several IU Southeast faculty members who saw this as an important growth area on campus and in the community. She said David Taylor, professor of biology and curator or herbarium, Randy Hunt, professor of biology and James Barry Jr., professor of philosophy, were all involved in kick-starting the program.

“The major is now available and we already have two students who anticipate to graduate with the major within the next year,” Woodward said. “As awareness of, and interest in the field grows, we anticipate many more students adding this as a second major regardless of their area of study.”

Woodward attributes student involvement as a key catalyst in the progression of the program. She said student interest is vital to the viability of the club and she predicts an increase of interest around campus in the future. She said she feels this new degree will open up the door for more sustainable options and practices around campus.

“The sustainability council on campus is moving in the direction of greening our campus through membership in a higher education initiative called STARS (The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Ranking System) which evaluates our carbon footprint as an institution on things like power use, landscape management, trash output and recycling initiatives, water use, etc.,” Woodward said.

We’re in a time right now where we’re seeing the effects of the past in our faces.”

— Brittany Harris, Sustainability Club president

Sustainability Club and Student Involvement

One of biggest figureheads of student involvement in sustainability on campus is Brittany Harris, sociology and psychology junior and Sustainability Club president. Harris said she heavily utilized the Box program on Canvas in order to organize club files and set the tone for future club members.

“I think we have 70 members now. Over 70. Those are just people that were listed, we also have followers on [social media] and things like that,” Harris said. “We have a list of club members, the club constitution, a running to-do list that members can add to at any time. It just keeps the club really organized.”

In addition to overseeing the club’s projects, daily duties for Harris include printing flyers and controlling social media to try and spark interest throughout campus. There are currently four officers within the club that have different responsibilities: the president, vice president, secretary and the outreach officer — a new position installed to have someone “on the ground” actively talking to students about involvement.

According to Harris, anybody can become a member, simply go to Grenadier Central online, find the club and select join. Once a person joins, they’re immediately on the email list and participation determines the level of involvement and potential for an officer position.

To be an officer, applications are released and Harris said if there are enough candidates, she’s considering holding elections.

“It’s just such a growing field. And the word sustainability is such a buzzword right now because it’s just all about being focused on having enough resources right now and not compromising what the future has,” Harris said. “And we’re in a time right now where we’re seeing the effects of our past in our faces.”

Harris said she believes these degrees allow students to market themselves as problem-solving and innovative to companies looking for standout employees. She said the versatility of the degree allows anybody to be capable of studying sustainability without compromising their major or area of study.

“It’s a really, really, really flexible degree path that is super multidisciplinary. You can even get a minor or a certificate if you don’t want a major,” Harris said.

She says there are three smaller focuses within the degree. There is an environmental sustainability degree, a social sustainability degree, and an economic sustainability degree, all of which compliment many aspects of study of many popular majors, such as business and economics.

The major is now available and we already have two students who anticipate to graduate with the major within the next year. As awareness of, and interest in the field grows, we anticipate many more students adding this as a second major regardless of their area of study.”

— Lucinda Woodward, assistant professor of psychology and international studies

The Sustainability Fair and Future

On April 9, the Sustainability Club and Council will host a sustainability fair in the UC 127 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The fair is in an effort to spread awareness and involvement of the degree program. According to Harris, this fair will allow students to see directly the motives and activities of the club, and as a great opportunity to learn what sustainability can mean in college.

The week leading up to the fair, Harris said they’ll be tabling near the clock-tower to promote the fair along with some organizations that have partnered with the university to spread awareness. One of the most notable, according to Harris, is Trash Force Inc., a non-profit Floyd County organization that focuses on education and promotion of environmentally sound policies.

According to their website, the mission of Trash Force Inc. is to “assist, encourage, and educate the community to develop and implement environmentally sound policies, waste

stream reduction, resource use, and recycling.”

Harris said Trash Force Inc. is focused on recruiting young members to carry on their message after their retirement, and said they’ll have a tent on the day of the fair for anyone interested in them or their message.

Along with the fair, Woodward said there are a number of fun activities planned where like-minded students can come together to clean up the community, and said the Sustainability Club is an important auxiliary for hard work that goes into greener living.

“For example, on April 15, we will be having a hike/clean up day where vegan lunches will be catered for all participants. Another fun activity we will do is meet with local artist Al Gorman who creates Art on the Ohio out of discarded trash to create our own works of art from the stuff we collect in our clean up efforts,” Woodward said.

More info on these and future activities can be found at the sustainability fair, or by going to Grenadier Central and becoming a member.

“Our goal is to kind of stop seeing climate change in this controversial kind of light. These things are real, these things are happening, and if we don’t think they are, we need to do real research to see what is going on and what we can do,” Harris said.

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