SUST 401 and 501 introduced me to the basics and fundamentals of sustainability. Throughout the two courses, methods of how to research, how to study and how to communicate sustainable ideas were emphasized. SUST 401 taught us the core ideals and definitions that is commonly used in this field. The pillars of sustainability, knowledge to action thinking, and coupled human-nature systems are just a few of the major topics discussed. Additionally, it brought up more worldly examples of sustainable practices like Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index and carbon caps. 501 educated us about the various research methods and how sustainable practices and methods are actually used in real world. This is done by showing more sustainable projects located in the NH seacoast communities, such as the Tides to Storm project or Spruce Hole, the Artifical Recharge Aquifer.
SUST 401 completely changed what I thought sustainability was or was about. Coming into SUST 401, I was convinced that if we wanted to be sustainable society then we have to protect and promote the natural world. I didn’t understand how vital economic and social sustainability were for sustained living; I was also unconvinced that economic sustainability is just as important to the other pillars. One of the biggest messages impressed upon me during these classes was: just educating people about an issue is not enough to enact change, no matter how important or massive an issue you think it is. Everyone holds a different values and belief system; assuming people will change just because you tell them something doesn’t mean anything, without understanding other’s point of views, enacting any sort of effective change is near impossible. In general, I think these classes have made me a more critical thinker. I am able to look at more perspectives and it has made me understand where others come from when trying to solve or even understand a problem.
These classes were the foundations of how I approach problems and projects that I have faced in other classes, during this capstone project and in my future career. After I took SUST 401, I started to notice and recognize sustainability concepts in my others classes, or how a topic could relate to sustainability. It also has made me critically think about concepts or even products that claim to be sustainable, and how these could be improved. I hope to take these on throughout my sustainability capstone project. As SUST 750 is my first experience in a sustainability based project, having the support of SUST 401 and 501 makes me feel confidence to be able to practice these ideas and concepts.