Publication Date

2017

Document Type

Capstone

Study Type

ENV 312

Department

Environmental Science and Policy

Advisors

L. David Smith

Abstract

The Report of the Smith College Study Group on Climate Change published in 2017 indicated that Smith College has a relatively low number of sustainability-focused courses compared to similar-sized institutions as defined by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment Rating System (STARS). According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), sustainability courses encompass the following themes of human and ecological health, social justice, and secure livelihoods now and in the future. The goal of this research is to assess the distribution of sustainability curriculum across departments at Smith College and find limiting factors to incorporating additional sustainability content. The data for this study was conducted using the Smith College course catalog and through surveys distributed to students and faculty. Sustainability is an important concept to discuss across disciplines because environmental threats like climate change significantly diminish natural resources and jeopardize the future of our world. Students will be better equipped to solve environmental problems if they were taught how to do so in the classroom. Our results showed that many faculty members and students were eager to engage in sustainability topics, but did not have the means to do so either through time conflicts or lack of knowledge on sustainability issues. Also, despite the definition of sustainability provided at the top of the surveys, many students and faculty members struggled to understand how sustainability relates to their area of study. We recommend that the Committee on Academic Priorities as well as the Committee on Sustainability organize workshops to assess curricular needs, educate departments on how sustainability relates to their area of expertise, and incorporate more interdisciplinary assignments and projects.

Rights

©2017 Sam Peikes

Comments

This project report summarizes the semester-long efforts of group members to identify a problem in sustainability; gather background information; collect data through surveys, interviews, or experiments; analyze results, and report findings to the public in an oral presentation. Each member of the group was required to submit a separate written report. This student’s report was selected by the course’s professor to represent the project.

Group members:

Caroline Eyman

Margaret Hewitt

Sam Peikes

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