Going Green in the Classroom
Mount Mary University aims to educate a new generation for a sustainable future. Students are encouraged to broaden their horizons when considering living lightly on the Earth and on campus.
Environmental awareness is promoted in classes that focus on environmental science and contemporary environmental issues. A minor in environmental studies is also offered.
Mount Mary’s study abroad programs allow students to get firsthand experience in sustainability, eco-friendliness, green design, organic farming and more. These educational journeys take students to Costa Rica, Scandinavia and other countries worldwide.
Many courses and related activities at Mount Mary create opportunities for students
to explore and become involved in environmental and sustainability issues.
Sustainable interior design: Mount Mary’s interior design program offers sustainable design instruction that addresses historical, ethical and global perspectives on environmental and sustainable issues. The program also encourages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
In addition, interior design students create and display sustainable furniture designs at an annual silent auction, “sustainTABLE CHAIRity.” This silent auction comprises reclaimed furniture and up-cycled items produced by the students. Event proceeds benefit the students’ hands-on remodeling projects at local homeless shelters.
Leadership for social justice: Mount Mary’s Leadership for Social Justice Seminar encourages students to view their professional preparation in the context of leadership and social justice and equips them with the communication, critical and creative thinking skills necessary for leadership in a culturally diverse environment.
The seminar requires students to participate in an ecological footprint exercise, which estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain an individual’s consumption patterns and absorb waste each year. After completing the ecological footprint quiz, students participate in a rite of response that provides an opportunity for reflection and personal response to their quiz results.
United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals: A social sciences course discusses United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, which includes the global issues surrounding adequate food and nutrition and education
and social equality. The course stresses the importance of the student’s personal
responsibility to create awareness and participate in the solutions. The goal is for
students to increase their awareness of their individual place in the ecosystem.
Climate change policies: Students in an introductory social sciences course are required to read State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World by the Worldwatch Institute. The book examines policy changes needed to combat climate change and explores the economic benefits that could flow from the transition, including the potential to create new industries and jobs in rich and poor countries.
Global conflicts and social transformation: This sociology course analyzes resource conflicts, broad global environmental issues and how nations try (or not) to deal with these issues. Throughout the course and reading James Speth’s “Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment,” students gain a global perspective of what various nations have tried, what’s been managed and what environmental issues have been difficult to solve.
Reducing science lab waste: Health sciences classes reduce biohazard waste in the classroom by limiting the number of dissections each semester.
Sustainability in teacher education: Mount Mary’s Master of Arts in Education program partners with the Milwaukee Teacher Education Center (MTEC), a nonprofit teacher preparation and professional development center, to provide urban teachers with professional development experiences that connect theory and practice in ways that will positively impact the learning of students in K-12 schools.
Drawing on resources available through MTEC’s Center for Sustainability, coursework in this program challenges educators to examine ways in which environmental, economic and educational issues affect K-12 schools now and in the future. Teachers design and implement curricular projects to involve their students and their schools in sustainability initiatives.