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 Concepts of sustainability could apply across the curriculum at SRU 



February 9, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



Concepts of sustainability could apply across the curriculum at SRU         


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SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Langdon Smith, associate professor of geography, geology and the environment at Slippery Rock University, will use the $4,150 SRU Green Fund Grant he was awarded to help share the concepts of sustainability across the academic curriculum and into many SRU classes.

           "Dr. Julie Snow [associate professor in the same department] and I attended the two-day Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education workshop in Atlanta in January. It was a great chance to hear how those from San Diego and Arizona are involving their faculty in such projects that aid the sustainability issue. We hope to bring many of those ideas to campus to help fellow faculty build a sustainability component into each of their classes," Smith said.

           The grant was one of four awarded by SRU's student-initiated Green Fund. 

           The Council of Trustees approved the Green Fund in 2008. Funding, awarded through a grant application process, supports environmental-related initiatives on campus or in the community. Grant applications may be made by SRU students, faculty or staff. Fourteen applications were submitted for this year's funding allocation. 

           Smith said the initial plan was to send four faculty members to the Atlanta workshop, but because of high demand only two were able to attend. "We are not sure if we will use the remainder of the funds to send two additional faculty to another, similar, workshop, or to host a workshop here on campus to get the sustainability across the academic curriculum project rolling. We will discuss the plan with the Green Fund administrators."

           Either way, Smith said, the coming months will be used to expand the understanding of sustainability and ask that faculty find ways of building awareness into their classes whenever possible. "The goal of our efforts is to introduce students in every discipline to sustainable practices and to engage students in sustainability projects on campus and within the surrounding communities," he said.

           He said he sees the campus workshop as an all-day event, possibly at the end of the semester.

           "We want to put resource people in front of faculty, possibly a naturalist from the Jennings Environmental Center or a biologist from the Department of Natural Resources, or people from the McKeever Environmental Education Center so that our faculty could begin building a sustainability component into their classes. Initially, we see it easiest in the liberal studies classes," he said. "Ideally, we'd like to do the workshop away from campus as a retreat."

           "We'd like everyone to take on a little bit, to think of a sustainability aspect and the fact that the campus is making a huge push into sustainability and this would just be one more part of it. We have to keep in mind that the sustainability issue is huge in terms of our long-term wellbeing, and it protects a good quality of life." Smith said.

           All of the program's projects would be directed toward working with faculty, but a major part will be to get students thinking about this issue so sustainability practice becomes a habit," he said.

           Other projects funded this year include:

      Occupancy sensors for classrooms and high-tech electric meters; $11,600; sought by Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning;

      Purchase of a biofuels generator, to turn used dining hall cooking oil into diesel fuel, $6,900, also sought by Albert; 

      Sustainability Educational Programming for Students; $3,085; sought by Liberty Merrill, a master for sustainable systems graduate student from LaGrande, Ore.; and

      A campus screening of the documentary "Food Inc."; $521; sought by Evan Endres, a graduate student in sustainable systems graduate student from Ligonier.

           Details about the various grants have been included in January and February issues of rockpride online.

           Jerry Chmielewski, SRU biology professor, is chair of the fund's advisory board that is comprised of SRU students, faculty, an administrator, a representative of the facilities and planning staff, and a member of the off-campus community. The projects are first reviewed, with recommendations sent to SRU President Robert Smith for final approval. 

              This year's projects continue to offer direct ties to SRU's leadership in environmental issues. 

           SRU offers academic majors in environmental education and environmental science and a master's degree in sustainable systems. SRU has also signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment as a way of helping spotlight regional reduction of greenhouse gas emission starting with the SRU campus. More than 660 other colleges, universities and other higher education institutions have signed the ACUPCC.

            SRU has shown leadership in greening throughout its most recently constructions projects, including the $140 million, suite-style apartment buildings, which include on-demand hallway lighting, energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning units, improved insulation techniques for energy efficiency and recycled materials use in making the wallboard. The buildings earned the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives. -


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