As Bucknell continues to expand its campus and begins the process of integrating “sustainability” into its curriculum throughout the different disciplines, I believe there are is an amazing opportunity for integrated and hands-on learning. The new campus buildings, while perhaps already more green than their predecessors, have the potential of leading “green construction/ building” by example. Furthermore, should the administration allow it, there is the potential for exceptional interdisciplinary student involvement in that process.
My high school developed plans to do a major renovation to a central building on campus to take shape between my Junior and Senior year. Together with a core group of teachers, the Environmental Awareness Activity, of which I was a part, decided to create a coalition of Student/Teacher groups that researched ways to integrate “green” building and technology into the plans. In a meeting with the Architects, board members and teachers present, each group presented “green” alternatives to everything from the floor material to motion-sensor lights to waterless urinals. The student-led effort fundamentally transformed the project and resulted in over 10 “green” concepts being fully integrated. Besides the obvious positive of having a more “sustainable” building, the experience allowed students the opportunity to make a difference, learn by doing and take some ownership over aspects of the new building. Between the dedication of the teachers and the drive of the students, we made a difference. This effort also, indirectly, resulted in the creation of an Environmental Task Force consisting of faculty, staff, administration, board members, and 4 students.
If my High School, with 50 kids in a grade, could accomplish that, why does Bucknell not encourage the same experience?
I propose, that Bucknell should create the forum and opportunity necessary in order to allow for Students and Professors to research and offer potential changes to the architects of Bucknell’s future buildings. I can think of no better way for Bucknell to integrate sustainability into its culture than to create a “sustainability” forum of this kind – with Faculty and Administration, but also Students.
For those of you who may be interested, I researched and presented Hand-dryers and PV Cells. Hand-dryers > paper towels. And a friend in the Environmental Awareness activity got a grant for 6 PV Cells that the school was able to install because they had changed their plans make sure they had the wiring necessary to have PV Cells. I feel like I made a difference. Having the opportunity to work with professors on an even footing to accomplish the task of making Bucknell University measurably more sustainable would be amazing.
I question, however, whether the University is capable of such an integrative approach to “doing.” Its rare I find opportunities here to work on a project with a professor outside of the strict academic mode of the status quo.