SUST 390 Course Preview: The Sustainable Campus (Spring 2015)

Following up on Roosevelt’s campus-wide strategic sustainability planning effort this fall, the SUST Program will offer a SUST 390 special topics course entitled The Sustainable Campus this coming spring (2015) semester. Taught by SUST Program Director and Associate Professor Mike Bryson, the class will meet at the Chicago Campus on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:30pm, and begins January 10th, 2015. Pre-requisites: ENG 102 and SUST 210.

The Sustainable Campus: More than Just a Cool Building

RU's distinctively blue Wabash Building (constructed 2012), a LEED-gold structure that complements the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Building (foreground) at the downtown Chicago Campus.

RU’s distinctively blue Wabash Building (constructed 2012), a LEED-gold structure that complements the National Historic Landmark Auditorium Building (foreground) at the downtown Chicago Campus.

What are colleges and universities doing to make themselves more sustainable institutions? How can their efforts serve as laboratories for innovation and models for larger communities, from small college towns to sprawling suburbs to bustling big cities? What have Roosevelt University and other area institutions accomplished the last few years in creating more sustainable campuses, and where are they headed in terms of sustainability planning, operations, academics, and community relations?

This new special topics course focuses on the microcosm of the university as a lens through view to explore how communities are striving to save energy, conserve water, reduce waste, encourage active transportation, restore biodiversity, foster environmental literacy, develop innovative curricula, and connect with local communities. Seen in this context, the Sustainable Campus is always a work in progress, yet has the capacity to model sustainable development strategies that may be applied to communities large and small.

Students, staff, and faculty prioritize sustainable actions at Roosevelt University on 26 Sept 2014 (photo: M. Radeck)

Students, staff, and faculty prioritize sustainable actions at Roosevelt University on 26 Sept 2014 (photo: M. Radeck)

While we will consider case-studies of other US colleges and universities that are well on the path toward sustainability, this section of SUST 390 will concentrate on Roosevelt’s efforts since 2010 to green its operations and curriculum, which have recently culminated in a series of university-wide sustainability planning workshops during the Fall 2014 semester. As a follow-up to the creation of RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan (see pdf of draft, now under review by the RU faculty and administration), our class will gather data on some of the plan’s priority initiatives in its four thematic areas:

  • Energy and Climate
  • Waste and Natural Resources
  • Education and Outreach
  • Economics and Governance

STARS 2.0 ManualAmong our many activities, we’ll use the STARS 2.0 Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System adopted by many universities to guide our research, as we document and assess Roosevelt’s progress on various indicators of sustainability. This work will form the foundation of the university’s forthcoming STARS reporting efforts in alignment with the new Strategic Sustainability Plan, and provide critical baseline data as we launch new sustainability initiatives in coming years.

Students in SUST 390 The Sustainable Campus will get an in-depth perspective on the university’s sustainability efforts and, through their research, gain practical experience gathering data and generating reports for the STARS 2.0 tracking system. More importantly, they will have a hand in helping the university realize its vision of becoming a more sustainable institution, both inside its walls and throughout its connection with Chicagoland communities.

For more information on this upcoming course, please contact Dr. Mike Bryson via email (mbryson@roosevelt.edu) or phone (312-281-3148).

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