My introduction to the Sustainability Dual Major came through a Discovery Elective I was fulfilling; the course studied the effects of human impact on Earth’s environment. In this elective I reviewed UNH’s campus sustainability progress and future efforts, I wanted to search for further knowledge and insight into the developing field of Sustainability and was introduced to this new program.
Sustainability 401 tied together the three pillars of Sustainability; Social, Economic, and Environmental; to deliver a basis of what Sustainability can be and is. As we continued to look at the many problems under the Sustainability Science umbrella, referring to the 3 original pillars still aids me in analyzing issues from multiple perspectives to help discover the entirety of the issue. Our field trip to UNH’s dairy barn for example not only demonstrated to the class a Sustainable business model and how the facility can still benefit research on the impacts of dairy on the environment. The UNH dairy barn is funded by Stonyfield and supplies them with rich whole organic dairy for their yogurts. UNH researchers were experimenting with different feed types in the hope of reducing methane output from the animal’s breath and waste. The facility also had implemented a heat energy system that utilizes the large manure pile to partially increase water temperatures with the intent to eventually increase the temperature to safe levels for sanitation purposes. I found trips such as this one extremely insightful to our campus’s efforts at furthering sustainability science and tying class material into relevant campus activities.
Sustainability 501 taught me what “group work” meant and all the different forms it came in. Although the class topics and issues relate to 401, this class didn’t just teach what the problems were but more importantly, how to tackle and solve these multifaceted sustainability issues. The class investigated local sustainability projects that were ongoing, and we analyzed their group formation process and the resulting work from these collaborative efforts. To develop sustainability solutions, groups had to combine different types of knowledge and tools to study & analyze data in a transdisciplinary process as an effort to inform decision makers and spread their gained knowledge into action.
The Sustainability Dual Major has given me personal, professional, and academic confidence to better understand complex issues and start on a pathway towards finding a solution. Real world problems aren’t solved quickly or easily but rely on group collaboration to find the best possible solution to impact the community in the most positive way possible. Sust 401 taught us what the problems were that our planet is facing from human caused climate change; this class also called ourselves into action as individuals to make a change in our daily lives that promote sustainability. And by 501 teaching us how to tackle these issues and solve them through group/ community efforts, I have developed a clear understanding of the issues at hand, and how to tackle them in a manor to create impactful and lasting change.
The knowledge and insight that 401 & 501 have given me can be combined as a powerful tool for change and can inspires us to lead these future causes and changes to improve our social, economic, and environmental well-being. These two classes form a framework for the rest of the Sustainability Dual Major experience by giving us all the necessary background and tools to understand, analyze, and spark action in order to begin to solve the many problems facing us in our local communities across the globe.