An innovative living-learning prototype for students, as well as academic coursework, service-learning activities and study abroad opportunities are all part of the University’s Sustainability Village. The program integrates academic coursework, research, service learning and experiential education opportunities to enhance student understanding of sustainable development, community food systems and alternative lifestyles that promote conservation.
The academic component is housed in the College of STEM and is open to students in all majors. It involves three four-hour honor courses: Introduction to Environmental Science, Applied Environmental Science and Sustainable Living, as well as Applied Environmental Science II. The third course provides students with a study abroad opportunity, combined with community service. It is taught as an on-site, three-to-four-week period at the Mahanaim Village in Haiti. The village was devastated by the 2011 earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti. When they’re not in class, the students assist the Mahanaim residents in establishing a sustainable village.
Community and aquaponic gardens also offer opportunities for students to engage in service learning and applied interdisciplinary research. The gardens aid in the University’s recycling and waste reduction efforts by employing composting and loop system strategies.
The village’s centerpiece will be a model home built to accommodate four students. It will incorporate sustainable/renewable alternative technologies and conservation measures. The aquaponic garden and model home will serve as affordable prototypes that could be replicated in communities impacted by natural disasters and in various stages of rebuilding.
The village continues to be a highly visible demonstration of the University’s overall sustainability efforts.