Students learn to ‘sustain’ for class

In addition to UVM’s mandatory diversity requirement, students will soon need to fill another prerequisite. 

The faculty senate approved a plan to move forward with adding a university-wide sustainability requirement in their meeting April 7.

The course requirement will allow students to take classes and learn about how our society impacts the environment and what we can do to help sustain it, the UVM website stated.

Since 2001 the SGA has supported the addition of a university-wide sustainability requirement into the general curriculum at the University.

Building off SGA’s work, an ad-hoc faculty senate committee for sustainability was established in 2012. 

Junior Aswini Cherukuri said she thinks the sustainability requirement is a “great idea.” 

“Sustainability is relevant to everyone,” Cherukuri said. “The concept of sustainability is scientific, social, economic and environmental.”

Classes will allow students to recognize and assess how sustainability impacts their lives and how their actions impact sustainability, according to a resolution submitted by SGA March 23.

It will enable students to have “informed conversations” about the complexity of sustainability, according to a report submitted by the ad-hoc senate committee in March.

 The report stated that students can also learn how to “think critically” about sustainability across a “diversity of cultural values” on both local and global scales.

Both students and faculty said they feel the addition of a sustainability requirement will be beneficial to the UVM community.

“I feel like our campus could do more to promote sustainable living,” sophomore Kristine Corey said. 

“The water bottle ban was a great start, but there are a lot of other ways students can help the environment,” Corey said.

The committee has developed a series of “learning outcomes” that will incorporate sustainability into the existing curriculum at the University, sustainability co-chair Laura Hill-Bermingham said.

President of the faculty senate and professor of linguistics Julie Roberts said it’s important to educate “good global citizens.” 

Roberts said that gaining knowledge of sustainability and environmental impact is important in meeting that goal. 

“I think it is critical to implement this requirement,” she said. “It isn’t an easy task, but with careful planning, I do believe it can be done.”

Hill-Bermingham said she believes there is a misconception among students on campus that the new sustainability initiative will require all students to take an additional course. 

She explained that this is only one of the three methods by which students can meet the new requirement.

Students can meet the requirement through various coursework in their existing curriculums and other co-curricular activities, such as the Eco-Reps program, Hill-Birmingham said.