Columbia is a leader in higher education as a media and arts centric college. We are building on those foundations to include sustainability literacy into our curriculum. We have a variety of courses that touch upon the subject of sustainability from Environmental Journalism to Environmental Science. Integration of sustainability related topics can encourage multi-departmental collaborations. Faculty members who are interested will have the tools and support to apply sustainability concepts into existing and new coursework. Integrating sustainability into existing curricula in a holistic way will help the current generation of communications and arts leaders create meaningful, sustainable change.
What are we doing?
An example of sustainable collaboration can be seen in the Paper Maker’s Garden. The garden was unveiled in the spring of 2011 on a vacant lot at the center of campus. Columbia’s students receive hands-on education in the entire process of planting, growing, managing, collecting, and utilizing plant fibers. This garden allows them to engage with environmental concerns, such as how green spaces reduce air pollution, air temperature, and urban runoff, as well as interdisciplinary artistic practices that address science, art, and the environment. This multi departmental project between the Office of Campus Environment, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, the Center for Book and Paper Arts, and Pulp Ink and Thread (PIT), and the Book and Paper graduate student organization is an exemplary model for how cross departmental collaborations can shape our curriculum.
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Moodle and OASIS
Faculty and students are given the tools to use online resources as bridge technology and efficiency. Resources include Moodle for Faculty and OASIS for students.
Moodle stands for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment and is a learning management system used by Columbia faculty to manage their courses. Depending on how each teacher uses Moodle, students can access syllabi, assignments, readings, resources, course grades and other materials. Instructors let their students know if they are using Moodle in a particular class.
Students use OASIS, Online Administrative Student Information System, as their online tool to register for classes, pay tuition, and check academic progress and grades. To view information posted by faculty members using Moodle, students can use OASIS to access that material. OASIS can be used as a learning management system where students can view faculty posted resources and grades. It can double as an online meeting space where students can see classmates’ profiles, interact and send messages.
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The Columbia bookstore is managed by the Follett Higher Education Group. An initiative that aims to reuse and save students money is Follett’s Rent-a-text program. Faculty and students can use this program to request materials needed for their classes. Read this article posted in Columbia's Student Loop Newsletter promoting the bookstore's rent-a-text and used resale options.
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Academic Green Team
As part of the Sustainability Roadmap, Columbia has created an Academic Green Team. The team members consist of faculty and staff from various academic departments. Below are some of the ideal goals and actions for this team.
- Develop sustainability literacy among faculty and students that infuses principles of economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and social equity and justice into selected coursework.
- Promote and raise visibility of sustainability-related coursework, projects, and exhibits.
- Increase sustainability literacy by promoting a sustainability track which encourages students to enroll in courses with embedded sustainable principles.
Academic Green Team's Actions:
- Showcase faculty who have found innovative ways to incorporate sustainable principles into their existing curriculum.
- Develop performance measures to track the inclusion of sustainability themes in curriculum.
- Encourage the use of electronic resources such as Moodle and e-books.