Sustainability Education

The Ohio State University emphasizes energy education by making students more aware of how energy affects their day-to-day lives and how they can influence change.

SUSTAINS Learning Community: Exploring and engaging through sustainable living

Ohio State’s commitment to sustainability is evident across campus, from our Green Build policy to zero waste events to the Olentangy River Restoration Project. Beginning this past autumn semester, students gained the opportunity to become more active in campus sustainability with the introduction of the SUSTAINS Learning Community.

When SUSTAINS (Students Understanding Sustainability and Taking Action to Improve Nature and Society) Learning Community launched in August 2014, it became Ohio State’s 15th learning community, and welcomed 15 members. A learning community is a group of students who live together in a residence hall with common major, career and/or personal interests. For the 2014-2015 academic year, SUSTAINS students live in Nosker Hall and have a variety of majors.

“The great thing about SUSTAINS is it is across all majors and fields of study; we have engineering majors, a public health major, and several majoring in EEDS (Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability) and Environmental Science,” Carolyn Voigt, first year EEDS major, said. “It really speaks to the fact that sustainability is really in all fields of study.”

According to Gina Hnytka, academic program coordinator for the Department of Agriculture, Environmental and Developmental Economics, SUSTAINS was created because there was a need on campus to help students explore the social science aspects of sustainability, and connect with other students with similar interests and goals who are interested in making a difference.

Any students interested in sustainability are welcome to apply. In addition to living in the same residence hall and participating in activities together, students take a one credit hour seminar course, taught by Hnytka. The class features guest speakers, faculty presentations and project proposals that relate to sustainability in all sectors.

Hnytka said she could not be happier with the group of students this year.

“I don’t know if it is because it is the first year or because we have a selective program,” Hnytka said. “They are here because they care about renewable energy, they care about alternative transportation, they care about sustainable food systems, they care about something related to sustainability,” she said.

According to Aaron Moore, residence hall director for Haverfield-Nosker Complex, activities during SUSTAINS’ inaugural year have included an early arrival program; dinner and dialogues with professors; community partner discussions on sustainable topics; exploring the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center; and preparing for the implementation and execution of two student projects proposed in the autumn seminar class.

Evan Anguish, first year Civil Engineering major, said SUSTAINS students hope to use the information they gain from the learning community and the classroom in future endeavors.

“It will be nice to use the knowledge gained from SUSTAINS in my career,” Anguish said. “I hope to use what I’m learning to make things more sustainable in the future.”

Hnytka sees a bright future for the program, especially because of the focus on having students that really want to be involved. “In 10 years or so, if we were able to have students living in a specific residence hall and then producing their own food, using greywater systems, being powered by renewable energy sources, and engaging with campus and their communities as active citizens, that’s the ideal,” she said.

The application for the SUSTAINS Living Community is available until April 15. Students must select “Scott House” on their housing application and fill out the SUSTAINS LC application at Next fall, the learning community will be located in Scott House, 160 West Woodruff Ave.

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