By Amrut Sadachar, Ph.D
In the month of January 2017, I submitted an application for the “Summer 2017 Fall Line Project and Faculty Award,” which is focused on “Green Curriculum, Green Campus, and Green City.” This Fall Line Project is in its eighth year, and so far over 100 faculty members from 30 departments on Auburn’s campus have participated in this program. The Fall Line Project application asked a few questions such as “Why do you want to participate in this workshop?”, “What are the types of potential changes you envision making in your course(s)?”, and “How would you incorporate environmental and/or social sustainability issues in the existing courses or develop a new course focused on sustainability?” Based upon my answers to these questions and few other criteria, my application was accepted, and I got an opportunity to participate in this program over the summer. As a part of the Fall Line Project 2017, I was one of the 13 faculty from various departments (e.g., architecture, education, poultry science, civil engineering, computer science, literature, philosophy, and political science) who participated in a two-day workshop (see Image 1). Broadly speaking, the workshop explored how we can meaningfully integrate sustainability into our classrooms, communities, and beyond. Through this workshop, I was able to expand my research and teaching horizons across disciplines, and network with fellow colleagues across campus. This workshop was organized and lead by Dr. Nanette Chadwick, Director of Academic Sustainability Programs at Auburn University.
The name “The Fall Line Project” is based on the nationally recognized Piedmont Project at Emory University and location of Auburn at the geographic interface between the hard rock of the uplands and the sandy soils of the coastal plains. This year’s two-day workshop took place at the Auburn University Mary Olive Thomas Demonstration Forest. It is a 400-acre woodland area with forest and wildlife. The pavillion (see Image 2 & 3) located in this demonstration forest was an apt venue to conduct the workshop where you are surrounded by greenery and experience the presence of wildlife all around you.
On the first day of the workshop, we started our gathering by enjoying coffee and sharing through exchanging information about sustainability books in our field. We then participated in an exercise to calculate our ecological footprint. Throughout the day, we had experts come and present to us various on-campus resources. These topics included “A Sense of Place,” “Place-Based Learning,” and “Sustainability Resources in the Library.” A couple of faculty members who had successfully developed and implemented curriculum or even taught sustainability in their courses shared their experiences as well as success strategies. A guided wood exercise taught us about the Alabama Woodlands (see Image 4). The first day ended with a small group exercise to create learning outcomes for interdisciplinary insights.
On the second day, we started with a gathering hosted with coffee and pastries. Multiple interactive sessions were held on topics such as “Campus as a Living Laboratory for Course Development,” “Campus Resources and Culture of Sustainability,” “Campus Facilities and Operations as Teaching Resource,” and “Methods of Incorporating Sustainability into Courses.” The workshop ended with final reflections and evaluations. I took away many sustainability resources from this workshop, which I can implement in my teaching and research. I was impressed with how everything in this workshop was planned and executed by taking into consideration sustainability at the core. For example, the food for the lunch was prepared by the Auburn University dining services, which used locally sourced ingredients and healthy food choices. Furthermore, disposable cups and paper plates were not used for serving, nor were paper towels used. It was a great experience partipicating in this workshop and the Fall Line Project.
Amrut Sadachar, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Consumer and Design Sciences Department at Auburn University. For more details, you can reach him at email@example.com
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