Staying Hungry for Justice

Students, staff and faculty frat the University of California, Santa Barabara recently participated in a 24-hour “Justice Fast”, to promote justice, solidarity, integrity and dignity, in light of humanitarian issues worldwide and other social justice concerns.

Excerpts from the article, Campus Fasting Event Highlights Diverse Social Justice Movements, shed some light on the event:

  • …the act of fasting, or abstaining from eating, emphasizes a continued prevalence of people’s hunger for justice. … “We’re trying to bring awareness to certain issues that are affecting our society and our larger global society,” Ochoa said. “At first, we were trying to figure out what issue to revolve our fast around, but in the end, we realized we couldn’t just focus on one issue. So we decided to split them, and students decided to take upon their own issues.”

Another recent article, which cites this UC-SB event, discusses deeping the academic experience to help students foster their already innate connection to the global challenges facing them and expounds on why these students resorted to fasting:

  • From water shortages to climate change, population growth to the health of bees, biocultural diversity to globalization, everything feels inextricably interdependent and connected. Higher education is a great leverage point for addressing the complex issues that affect us all. Many students recognize the multifaceted challenges that face us, and they can become overwhelmed when classes seem abstract and disconnected from day-to-day life and there is no clear action component to the learning process. A recent article discusses a student fast at the University of California, Santa Barbara with the slogan “There’s too much to lose, don’t make me choose!Resorting to fasting shows the seriousness with which these students take environmental, social and economic problems.

And these students and others across the nation are serious!  80% of US grads want to make a positive impact on the environment and 92% want to work for an eco-friendly company. Thankfully, 53% of our Fortune 500 companies are publishing some kind of sustainability or corporate social responsibility report, so our grads can find these companies, and nearly 80% of the nation’s population agrees we need to decrease consumption of energy and goods. This means, more and more our institutions of higher education need to be preparing students to be able to design systems, social and economic, that will meet these concerns and allow humans to persist within our limits.

At Moraine Valley Community College, faculty are fortunate to have an excellent resource that will help them integrate the concepts of sustainability into their coursework. The Moraine Valley Learning Academy, in collaboration with the Center for Sustainability, offers a faculty-enrichment program called the Greening Your Curriculum- Prairie Project. Enrollment for Fall 2013 is open now. The course explores many facets of sustainability, addressing today’s challenges and the unknowns of tomorrow, and guides faculty to understand how these topics relate or can be used to teach their individual disciplines. The program is unique to Moraine Valley, but there are other similar examples across campuses regionally and nationally. I am inspired and hopeful because of them.

Going green saves green for the students

Going green saves green for the students

Dawn Countryman, Instructor of Anatomy & Physiology

 

With the college’s initiative to become more sustainable, the Biology department has worked to make our courses more sustainable. Recently, the department made a change to the General Biology I and II (Biology 111 and 112) lab manual, a required component for both courses, to reduce paper waste. Prior to the Fall semester 2011, students who took either Biology 111 or 112 needed to purchase one combined 2-semester Biology 111 and 112 manual. The combined lab manual was a total of 324 pages with 162 pages used for Biology 111 and 162 pages used for Biology 112. While this worked well for students who took both 111 and 112, it became apparent to instructors in the Biology department that a lot of paper was being wasted because most students do not take both Biology 111 and 112. Many students who purchased the lab manual for just one course ended up discarding the unused half.

 

In the Fall 2011, the authors of the lab manual, Gretchen Bernard and Edward Devine, made the decision to switch from a 2-semester combined lab manual to a separate lab manual for Biology 111 and Biology 112.  With each new separate lab manual containing 162 pages, it is estimated that this change saved over 500,000 pages (250,000 double-sided printing) during the period from Fall 2011 through Fall 2012. In addition to reducing paper waste, this switch has also saved students money because those that only take Biology 111 or Biology 112 are buying a lab manual at half of the cost they normally may have paid. For the Biology department, going green while saving the students money was definitely a win-win scenario.