The first elective I enrolled in for the Sustainability Dual Major was NR 435H: Honors Contemporary Conservation Issues. I chose this class as it satisfied both an honors and sustainability elective credit, both of which were programs I was new to. This course was an introduction to conservation vocabulary and served as a preliminary deep dive into the environmental pillar of sustainability. While the class focused on the impact humans as a species have on the planet, the honors section completed a special project which forced us to turn inward and examine the impact we, as individuals, have.

I often reflected on this course throughout my college experience--- and it wasn’t just because Professor Purrenhage invited a wildlife rehabilitation center in for one of our lectures. The honors discussion section of this course paired me with like-minded peers and helped me realize I was in the wrong primary major. I was enthralled by Brandon Keim’s “hab•i•tec•ture”. The idea there were people out there designing public infrastructure to consider both the human and wildlife use of space completely captured me and eventually led me to switching into the Community and Environmental Planning major. 

This class did more than just change my career plan though. In this course, I was introduced to the more personal side of sustainability. After watching Annie Leonards, “The Story of Stuff,” Professor Purrenhage challenged us to record our own story. We recorded the material items we acquired each day for the majority of the semester. Here I realized that despite thinking I was driven by sustainability, I actually had quite a bit of work to do. My personal journey with becoming zero waste began after my SUST 401 Personal Action Project showed me how much waste I was unknowingly responsible for and helped me cut out those unnecessary things. That said, I would credit this course for motivating me to make sustainable swaps for items I was already using.