This post from student Hannia Candelario on her experience in Unity’s “STARS: Sustainability Assessment” course this semester.
The Environmental Stewardship Core Curriculum is a primary component of the Unity College education. There are four courses that are distributed through the four years and they prepare Unity graduates for leadership roles in environmental issues, on levels ranging from local to global.
The first class that students are part of is the Unity Experience which is designed to provide entering students with the resources they need to be more successful in college. The class aims to help them become more comfortable with the college, the faculty and staff, other students and the community. The other aspect of this class is to help students demonstrate environmental stewardship and broaden their perspective on nature and the environment and demonstrate responsible citizenship.
The second class, environmental citizen allows second semester students to work together with staff and other classmates to identify current environmental issues, look into the problem, brainstorm ideas to fix the problem and then fix the problem. Topics that have been examined include recycling in local schools where students planned and carried out recycling events for elementary school students.
The third class that is taught is environmental sustainability. It allows students to pursue critical thinking on environmental topics such as oil dependency, globalization and ecosystem degradation.
The last class of the interdisciplinary course is Environmental Challenge. The class challenges students to work with the community on a project of the student’s choice; the projects range from week long community service, ice fishing lessons to food drives. In addition to individual projects, The Environmental Challenge class hosts the Lapping Lectures which are a major part of the class. Students are the target audience to these weekly presentations. Presentations range from State Representatives to game wardens.
What draws attention to these classes is the ability that they give students to go after what they are passionate about. As part of my work for the STARS credit report, I took a deep look at the structure and function of academics here at Unity College. I was in charge of collecting information on the Education and Research credits; as I talked to the school’s registrar, teachers and faculty about the co-curricular education credits, it struck me to find out that many schools in the nation are just starting to put together a sustainability curriculum. STARS gives a lot of credit to sustainability education and the fact that all of us at Unity are required to take these classes makes me feel that we are being trained at a deeper level to become environmental stewards. We are a community that is aware of the problems today’s societies are facing and we are being trained on how to approach them while also increasing sustainability awareness on campus.