I was unable to take SUST 501: Sustainability Perspectives & Methods until Spring Semester of my Second Year. I worried that waiting three semesters to continue my sustainability journey would impact my ability to participate. But, this course was very focused on the more social aspects of sustainability which allowed me to better connect to the material. The bulk of this course was dedicated to creating inclusive spaces for collaboration and how to work with people with different backgrounds. The most memorable concept from this course, for me, was when we learned about different ways of knowing and types of knowledge. This topic challenged my general belief in academic knowledge as the only truth and allowed me space to grow and accept other ways of knowing such as traditional or cultural knowledge.
In order to best understand the main concepts of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, my course used three field trips as case studies. We visited Wagon Hill Farm to better understand the connection between academics, government, and community in their living shoreline project. We drove around the Seacoast area with a representative from the Rockingham Planning Commission to learn more about their Tides to Storms project and what precautions the RPC is taking to prepare for inevitable sea-level rise and storm surges. It was here I met Cameron Wake who I would later continue to research this topic with for another class. Lastly, we helped with a citizen science initiative to measure sand dunes.
The main project for this course was to assist in writing and editing a chapter for what would hopefully become an open-source Sustainability Textbook. I worked with another student, who triple majored in Journalism, Spanish, and Sustainability to review and edit a chapter on Inter and Transdisciplinary Approaches to Problem Solving. Working with someone with a vastly different academic background allowed me to really throw myself into the interdisciplinary concept. This was my first experience in my higher ed experience working on an interdisciplinary team for a major-specific assignment, which was a really unique and enriching experience.