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L2.5

Sustainable Millsaps: Developing Leaders for a Sustainable Future

How would this plan work?
Why does Millsaps need this plan?
What are the learning outcomes for this plan?
How could we assess these learning outcomes?
Which students would this plan affect?
Would this replace or augment other programs on campus?
What resources would this plan require?
Are there any particular obstacles to this plan?

Contact person: Debora Mann
For a copy of the proposal, click here.



How would this plan work?

  • This QEP proposal proposes to integrate environmental sustainability into existing curricular and co-curricular programs in ways that will prepare students to face growing global environmental concerns in creative and constructive ways.
  • With regard to the curriculum, Millsaps offers an increasing number of courses in which the environment and sustainability are major themes. In addition to academic coursework, the operation of the campus itself also offers the opportunity to explore and promote sustainable practices. Millsaps faculty, staff, and students have taken a number of steps towards improving sustainability on campus, including recycling, conducting campus sustainability assessments, and donating surplus cafeteria food to Gleaners, a local food bank. Unfortunately, without administrative support or a process of institutionalization, these individual efforts have been difficult to maintain year to year. With the institutional recognition and support that comes with the QEP, these separate initiatives can be integrated into a coherent program with lasting and meaningful results.
  • Examples of ways in which sustainability might be incorporated into existing programs as part of the QEP include:
• discussion groups for faculty (similar to or as part of the Art of Teaching series) and /or summer workshops on incorporating sustainability themes into new or existing classes
• providing new students with information on recycling and other sustainability initiatives during orientation as part of the first year experience
• providing new faculty and staff with information on sustainability initiatives during their orientation
• a permanent sustainability living-learning community (similar to the Wellspring model)
• a designated annual Friday Forum on sustainability
• development of a student work-study sustainability leadership position
• periodic selection of a first-year summer reading focused on sustainability
• promotion of sustainability service within existing academic and co-curricular service programs (e.g. volunteering/fundraising for Jackson Inner-city Gardeners, Habitat for Humanity weatherization program, Tougaloo-Rainbow Sustainable Garden, and the Mississippi Natural Science Museum)
• promoting/highlighting Millsaps "campus" at Kaxil Kiuic as a model for sustainability
• development of a decision-making scheme that would involve advisement from a faculty/student/staff environmental committee charged with increasing sustainability in campus operations
• development of a Millsaps sustainability web page as the go-to site for information on recycling, tips on energy savings, volunteer opportunities relating to sustainability, courses with a focus on the environment and sustainability, upcoming events relating to sustainability, etc.
  • The aim of these curricular and co-curricular programs would be to expose students to a range of ideas and potential projects in sustainability. Sustainability studies, as part of a liberal arts education, can help prepare students to be environmentally literate, global citizens and leaders.

Why does Millsaps need this plan?

  • Our students will face a world with increasing pressures on natural resources. Effective leadership will be necessary to develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Part of the purpose of Millsaps College (p. 4 of the 2010-2011 College Catalog) is "to provide a learning environment that increases knowledge, deepens understanding of faith, and inspires the development of mature citizens with the intellectual capacities, ethical principles, and sense of responsibility that are needed for leadership in all sectors of society." With its emphasis on critical thinking and creative problem-solving, Millsaps is ideally suited to develop leaders for a sustainable future.

What are the learning outcomes for this plan?

  • We would expect that the students would become more knowledgeable about the ecosystem services upon which we all depend (for example water purification, oxygen production and carbon dioxide uptake, maintenance of soil fertility, pollination services, climate stability), and about the ways in which detrimental human activities can impair the ability of ecosystems to provide these services.
  • We would expect students to become better able to analyze environmental problems and think through potential solutions. We would expect that the skills they develop as part of the liberal arts education in critical thinking and communication could be applied to providing leadership in creative and collaborative problem-solving.
  • We would expect that students would me more likely than before to consider the ways in which their behaviors affect the environment.
  • We would expect that at least some students would come to view sustainability as one of the values guiding their decisions.
  • We would expect that some students would be empowered to take leadership in developing or promoting sustainable practices.

How could we assess these learning outcomes?

  • One form of assessment might be a survey given in the freshman year and again in the senior year, with questions regarding their knowledge, skills, behaviors and values as related to sustainability. If an appropriate NSSE consortium could be identified or established, this might even be done as part of the NSSE.
  • Questions might ask how well their coursework prepared them to understand specific sustainability issues (water quality, for example); how often they engaged in a discussion in class about sustainability; how often they engaged in a discussion outside of class about sustainability; how often they consider environmental sustainability when making a purchasing decision; how often they participate in recycling; how often they participate in service projects related to sustainability; whether they are considering careers relating to the environment or sustainability; whether sustainability is likely to be an important consideration in their decisions about transportation, housing or other lifestyle choices.

Which students would this plan affect?

  • In so far as the QEP fosters a campus-wide culture of sustainability, all students would be affected. Those who choose to take sustainability-related courses or who participate in other related activities might be affected to a greater extent.

Would this replace or augment other programs on campus?

  • This plan would integrate sustainability into a variety of existing programs.

What resources would this plan require?

  • Since this plan is based on existing programs, it would require little in the way of additional resources other than funding for a student sustainability leadership position.

Are there any particular obstacles to this plan?

  • No particular obstacles are anticipated.


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