SUST 501 was easily one of the best classes that I’ve taken. As a group of freshly graduated SUST 401 students, we were challenged to think in a new way about sustainability, the challenges that face us, and how to approach solving those challenges in a productive manner. Long story short- I never knew I could be so excited about collaborating with people from various disciplines, and as a journalist, working with scientists can be intimidating, confusing, and not productive, so this was completely new to me.
We learned what it means to collaborate, how to co-produce knowledge, how to translate that knowledge to the common mind, and we explored case studies of grand challenges right here in New Hampshire (which was fascinating in itself). These case studies happened mostly outside of classroom and included field trips to different vulnerable areas of the seacoast. We travelled along the doomed Route 1A into Seabrook and explored a living shoreline project at Wagon Hill Farm right here in Durham.
Growing up I never knew these areas were at huge risk for sea level rise and what that meant for not only the built environment, but also the natural resources that line the coast. It was interesting to see the level of ignorance among residents and tourists who don’t appear to be concerned about the future of these beautiful areas.
And as if this class couldn’t get any more and hands-on, Vanessa had us collaborate in groups to write and edit our own textbook for 501. Because sustainability is still an emerging field of study, there isn’t a textbook for 501 that covers everything we need to know in one semester. So, my group focused on the ethics of sustainability which was interesting to see what scenarios and ideas ethics would play a role in.