This week we are talking about Majors Making a Difference, focusing much of our content on how universities across the globe are remodeling not only their campuses but also their curricula.
Students everywhere are taking the knowledge they're learning in the classroom and putting it into action on their campuses and off. This article from The New York Times reviews a number of great examples of students taking action to decrease the size of their campus' carbon footprints and to increase awareness about the growing problem of climate change, pollution and waste.
In the past year, students at California State University voted to lower the thermostats in the winter and raise them in the summer, saving the school $150,000 annually and reducing their collective carbon footprint by 1,100 tons. And students over at M.I.T. simply posted signs to encourage their classmates to use the revolving doors instead. If these signs continue to help change behaviors, it could end up saving $7,000 and 15 tons of CO2 annually.
For the past four summers, reports the Times, groups of Dartmouth students have been taking the message off campus and on the road in a waste veggie oil-powered bus.
The mission is to proselytize about alternative fuel, exchange ideas with local leaders and show off their mobile museum of sustainable living. The 12 students stop at zoo parking lots, pull up at block parties and hang out at state parks... The clunker of a bus, retrofitted by students, has five 200-watt solar panels, thanks to sponsors, that power the essentials: television, stereo, refrigerator and laptops for daily blogging.
While some of these actions are small steps in many ways, in one way they're not: they are like exercises -- homework, assignments, if you will -- in making change. When these students graduate, they will have had experience in talking to others about why change is necessary and they will have experience necessary to put that rhetoric into action.
For more ideas about what to study and where, or to join the debate, check out this week's feature Majors Making a Difference.
Photo Credit: Jon Gilbert Fox for The New York Times