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Duke Research - Sustainability -- from Durham's Community to Duke's Campus

College students demanding sustainability curriculum

May 24, 2010

Sustainability -- from Durham's Community to Duke's Campus

Guest post from Jamese Slade, NCCU Summer Intern

Sustainability is about taking one action that effects the economy, the environment and social equity.  For example, going house to house exchanging inefficient light bulbs for environmentally friendly light bulbs, helps the homeowner’s pockets and the environment.

So, how do we train tomorrow's leaders to think about sustainability?

“We have to educate faculty to be able to educate students,” said Charlotte Clark, a visiting assistant professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment. She led a Monday workshop at Duke for teachers, administrators, researchers and facilitators from several area universities to discuss how they are taking action to incorporate sustainability into their campuses and communities.

As a part of the  American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, “Duke has made a vow to refrain from emitting carbon dioxide or green house gases into the environment by 2024,” both by reducing emissions and creating offsets, Clark said.

What attendees wanted to learn from each other is how to include sustainability goals and actions in their curriculum and campus life.

Marie Lynn Miranda, director of Children’s Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) told the workshop how her research program in the Nicholas School is connecting with the Durham community.

She studies the health effects of lead in children, and the major risk factors that increase the likelihood of childhood lead exposure.  High amounts of lead are typically found in old houses which tend to be in predominantly urban areas such as North East Central Durham, and Lyons Park, Miranda said. 

This research has led to more universal screening in the highest lead exposure risk areas and now the health department is 600 percent more efficient in finding at-risk children because of CEHI's mapping efforts, according to Miranda.

Conference attendees said they're already making progress on adding sustainability to their course offerings. 

Laura Fieselman, sustainability coordinator at Meredith College said the university offers a major and minor in sustainability. http://www.meredith.edu/sustainability/default.htm

UNC Chapel Hill offers an undergraduate sustainability minor, in which they do semester-long projects, according to Elizabeth Shay, UNC Chapel Hill’s director of the sustainable triangle field site. 

At Fayetteville State University there is a sustainability committee that helps homeowners save money by exchanging their light bulbs and shower heads to more environmental friendly ones, according to Fayetteville State University physics and chemistry professor, John Mattox.
 

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Tags: environment/sustainability, faculty

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