The Geology department's Dr. Stephen Wright teaches a great course, GEOL 95 "Environmental Geology" It is a four credit laboratory course with no prerequisites. The class primarily focuses on hydrology, although students get a basic geologic framework at the same time. Wright puts an environmental slant on the course by discussing such topics as non-point source pollution, the use of ground water supplies for drinking and irrigation, and the danger of underground gasoline and oil tanks. Much of the learning in the class is "hands-on" with extensive field trips. Activities include ground water testing in an abandoned landfill, perc-tests on a proposed building site and an evaluation of a former granite quarry. GEOL 95 is strongly recommended for anyone interested in land surveying, water quality or engineering, or anyone who wants a foundation in physical science.
Last summer I was one of 15 students in Dr. Leslie King's new course "Campus Ecology." We used the book, Campus Ecology, by April A. Smith as a guide and resource to assess the environmental practices of the University of Vermont in all areas of op eration.
First we made an audit, a comprehensive investigation into the daily life of UVM. We examined the areas of solid waste, water usage, hazardous substances, pest control, energy, and related university practices. We also included food services, procurement policies, transportation, investment policies and any area of daily life that affects the environment. After all the data were collected, we made recommendations in the form of a proposal on how UVM can improve.
Strengths in UVM operations included the recycling system and the new hazardous waste facility located on Spear Street. Alarms included the lack of a concrete procurement policy, the continued use of the on campus shuttle bus and the amount of food waste in UVM dining halls.
Research Turns Into Action
Our proposal and the initiative of two students in particular were instrumental in the implementation of a pilot project launched to compost food waste from the Weathervane cafeteria at the UVM farm (see accompanying article).
About five "Campus Ecology" students have stayed involved to complete the research, audit, and final report. These will soon be submitted to the central UVM administration and will also be available to anyone interested in our hard work and research. We e ncourage you to inform yourself. Most importantly, there is plenty of follow-up work to be done.
This kind of class, in which students can directly effect change for a sustainable future, is a rare treat at UVM! Leslie King will teach this project-oriented course again this summer. Get involved in doing whatever you can!
Identifying and Protecting Natural Areas Through Local and Regional Land Use Planning. Rick Paradis. 1 credit. This course examine the functions and values of natural areas and investigates the planning activities designed to identify and protect t hem.
Environmental Awareness: Changing Environmental Attitudes, Science, and Policy Since 1970. Ned Farquhar. 3 credits. This general interest course for first and second year students traces the historical roots of the new environmental ethic and seeks a vision for its future.
...Internship... Substantial Independent Project... Research or Action Project. Alumni/ae and current students know it by several different names. Ever since 1974 Environmental Studies majors at UVM have faced that culminating senior activity, ENVS 202. The Program faculty has always anticipated that seniors build on what they learn in courses through intensive projects undertaken at an advanced undergraduate level. ENVS 201 "Research Methods" aims to prepare students for the challenges of ENVS 20 2. The Program faculty has been working together to create a new model that offers more clarity about ENVS 202 and better preparation for alternatives to research theses.
An Evolving Tradition
The original design of ENVS 202 held the flexibility to include research, projects, internships, apprenticeships and experiences. Then, as now, there was the expectation of a final material product. In the 1980's while the senior activities were varied, r esearch became the dominant aspect of the students' work. The term "thesis" took on greater prominence. The evolving jargon over the years has lead to varied meanings of "thesis," "project," and "internship" among faculty and students. But research is not for everyone. In order to continue to support those students who would benefit most from "hands-on" senior work, a pilot project to help launch project based 202's began last fall.
ENVS 201 Splits
This spring the Program split ENVS 201 into two sections. Those interested in pursuing research took 201 with Dr. Laura McArthur, while 13 students, drawn to a more action-oriented project for 202, took 201 with Lecturer Ned Farquhar. Ned's section was de signed to prepare students to meet the significant demands of designing senior level "projects." Students in Ned's course developed a problem statement, personal and academic goals, learning objectives and a learning plan. They conducted thorough literatu re reviews on their chosen topics. With support from their peers and from Ned most students worked to establish partnerships and academic contacts with prospective sponsors, supervisors and evaluators. Program faculty and students seem pleased with the cu rriculum diversity in 201 this spring. Next fall Ned and Laura's sections will be offered at the same time to encourage coordination where possible. We will continue to work on developing the best format (and terminology!) for both ENVS 201 and 202 to bet ter serve our students.