Name: Tim Putnam
Hometown: Alstead, NH
Major: Information System/Business Analytics, Sustainability
Interests: Bike Racing/Riding, Skiing, Hiking, Anything Maple
More About Me:
I am a 2nd semester senior, very much looking forward to graduation in May! Currently I am working very hard to reduce my use of single/short-term use plastics. The company that I work for uses single use packaging currently, and I hope to use the background I have in business as well as my sustainability background to help move towards sustainable packaging. I am excited to see how the SUST 750 class is able to leave a positive impact on the UNH campus over the next semester.
Portfolio Entry: 1 – SUST 401/501 Reflection
The Sustainability Dual Major has been a great opportunity for myself and many other UNH students. Sustainability can have so many different meanings between individuals. The dual major has taught us the different ways in which sustainability can be viewed. SUST 401 and SUST 501 were the core courses that conveyed concepts, ideas, and practical aspects of sustainability. These courses helped guide us and develop the knowledge needed to apply to our capstone projects.
SUST 401, Intro to Sustainability, is the first class in the trio of required dual major courses. In this class we learned about broad sustainability concepts such as the triple bottom line, recycling, renewable energy, and many others. In SUST 401 we also covered ethics in terms of sustainability. Going into this class I had very little knowledge of sustainability. My view mainly revolved around the human impact on the natural environment. While sustainability is largely focused around reducing the impact on our environment, SUST 401 opened my eyes to the wider scope of sustainability. This wider scope includes our approaches to education, food security, food production, development, and many aspects of life. Throughout the semester I learned how to look at the broader picture and see all the viewpoints that individuals can have on a topic. This introductory class taught me the importance of not immediately taking something for what it is. I learned that inquiry is an important part of proper knowledge acquisition.
One year later we embarked on a semester long course to build upon the prior years learning. SUST 501 took these ideas and put them into practical use. Throughout the class we took field trips that helped us understand the practical uses of what we were learning in the classroom. These field trips typically also provided insight into what the local community was doing in regard to sustainability. Of the five field trips we took, two resonated as the way that we will make the most difference in our communities. First was the trip we took to Wallis Sands beach to help a couple with beach profiling. This couple volunteers a few times a month measuring the sand gain or loss that occurs on beaches of the New Hampshire seacoast. The project is coordinated by UNH Cooperative Extension and is the perfect example of citizen science. Citizen science is a crucial activity to achieve the sustainability projects that are underway. Private and public entities do not have the resources necessary for completion, making public integration that much more crucial. The final field trip of the semester we took to Great Bay Community College (GBCC). At GBCC we sat in on a meeting of individuals who are spearheading local sustainability projects. All these individuals had different backgrounds which showed how effective interdisciplinary science can be. Interdisciplinary science is crucial to successes in sustainability projects. Different viewpoints can lead to a more comprehensive projects, as well as aid on making a project more widely accepted.
These two classes combined to provide a great knowledge base for the capstone course we are currently taking. The capstone gives us the opportunity to not just observe the practical use of sustainability, but it allows us to actually implement our knowledge through real world projects.
*Unfortunately I do not have any photos from these field trips.
Portfolio Entries 2-4: Elective Reflections
I will provide this brief intro as a prelude to the next few portfolio entries. The Sustainability Dual Major requires that students take five electives to broaden the scope of knowledge and make sure that its graduates are well rounded. There are many electives to choose from, ranging from economics courses to environmental ethics courses. Ultimately the decision of what electives to take is up to the student. At the time of writing this portfolio entry I am currently taking my final elective, so of the four that I have completed my three favorites are delved into below.
Elective 1: NR 502 - Forest Ecosystems & Environemental Change
Forest Ecosystems & Environmental Change was the first elective I chose to take after declaring Sustainability as my Dual Major. I grew up close to the forestry industry, but never really learned much about the forests themselves. I chose to take this class so I could learn more about the knitty gritty of what actually occurs in a forest. We began by learning about the chemical composition and ecological processes that are necessary for a vibrant ecosystem. We then learned about climate change, its causes, and what the future may look like. Finally, the class brought everything together so we could learn about the impacts that climate change is having on our beautiful forests. I learned and realized many things throughout this course. The most important of these I will elaborate on below.
Trees are a very important resource available for our use and must be protected. Many of the services that trees provide go unnoticed or unappreciated. The air we breath is largely cleaned by trees and other plants. Many people use the wood from forests as a source for heat to cook meals or keep warm. Though, throughout the semester our main focus was on forests and trees, I gained a deeper respect for many of the resources that we take for granted. This class helped me understand how our daily actions impact tree, plant, and resource health, and what we can do to help mitigate these impacts.
Many connections can be drawn from NR 502 to the Sustainability Dual Major. SUST 401 enlightened us on resources and how we use them. NR 502 delved deeper into a specific resource and the impact that humans are having. Sustaining our forests is crucial and often these projects are completed using interdisciplinary science as well as citizen science. I believe that in taking NR 502 I gained a deeper knowledge of what impacts global change is causing on our resources. In addition, I learned what we can do to help slow human impact on our resources. Through mitigation and educationg the general public on sustainable practices we can acheive sustainability. These ideas can be transformed into initiatives to help communities aid in making the world a more sustainable place.
Elective 2: SAFS 410 - A Taste of the Tropics
For my second elective I chose to take a course covering tropical agriculture. Agriculture is a topic that has always interested me; where our food comes from, how it is grown, and its transportation. It’s so easy to walk to the store and purchase your weekly groceries without even considering the process behind how it ultimately gets into your hands. In taking SAFS 410 I hoped to learn more about this process through the view of tropical agriculture (I also hoped we would get to taste yummy tropical fruits… we did not).
The curriculum was slightly different than wat I had expected. SAFS 410 covered all topics having to do with tropical agriculture. We talked about plant families and the individual fruits that comprise them. The agricultural practices used to produce these goods were also covered. Unfortunately, we didn’t discuss the process of distribution in depth. I was able to take some of what I learned about phenological processed in NR 502 and use them to understand processes in SAFS 410, which I found very helpful.
A large connection that I drew between the Sustainability Dual Major and SAFS 410 was sustainable agricultural practices. Practices like primitive slash and burn, that use the un-harvested portions of the plant to help nourish the soil for future crops. It is practices like these which provide a huge positive impact on overall world sustainability. If we can find ways to meet our food needs in a more sustainable manner is crucial to future generations. These conversations reminded me of the time we spent talking about localized food production and the benefits it provides socially, economically, and environmentally.
Elective 3: NR 701 - Ecological Sustainability & Values
The two previous electives I wrote about were more fact-based classes that had biological components. In an attempt to push myself to think more critically about sustainability I chose to take a class that was rooted more in ethics. This class was definitely out of my comfort zone, as it was largely discussion based with a large writing component. I am much more comfortable in course where I can sit back, listen, take notes, and synthesize the information on my own. Professor Kessler and the rest of the class did not allow me to bottle up my ideas. Through this class I was able to learn how to better convey my stance on certain topics.
Ecological Sustainability & Values was heavily ethics focused. Taking this class was a nice change of pace from the previous SUST electives I had taken. Most of the class sessions we spent debating different sustainability “hot topics”. Out of class we wrote about these discussions and our ethical values surrounding them. NR 701 gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for different views that people may have on sustainability issues. Throughout the semester I was able to learn more about myself and my ecological ethics. Moving forward from taking this course I will certainly be able to better understand a stakeholder’s view in a project, and why they might feel the way they do.
In addition, many of the topics we covered were strongly related to sustainability. From invasive species, to conservation and preservation, use of natural resources, and others. Delving deeper into my values surrounding these topics will provide me with a better sense of how I should approach potential sustainability projects that may come my way. I think that this class really helped me tie together many of the concepts I had learned in the core classes as well as electives on a more personal level.
The electives that I chose have had a profound impact on my approach to sustainability issues. These lessons that I have learned about myself will be of great help in the semester long capstone project we are currently working on.
Portfolio 5 – Job Relation
The reason for choosing the majors that we do is, first, because we enjoy or believe in the subject matter, but second, because it is likely something we plan to pursue in our careers post college. In searching for jobs, we often look for characteristics that fall into the realm of the course material we have focused on through our college careers.
We have learned many skills through the SDM that will be very useful in the workplace. I’m sure that I will take a few of the skills I have learned and developed over the past 3 years into the workplace with me. One aspect of sustainability science that I have latched on to is the practice of seeing all sides of an issue. Working in a small company and working closely with a team it is crucial that everyone’s voice is heard and acknowledged, ideas are considered, and compromises are made. This aspect of sustainability we have seen through the transdisciplinary approach to sustainability project completion. Often each stakeholder has a different view point. All views are considered and a compromise is made. It is not always the most efficient system, but in the end the majority of people are left feeling good about the work that was accomplished. As with all sustainability related things the 3 pillars will be very relevant. Working in a small business environment, I expect the economic pillar will be very prominent. Though we may want to make many sustainability changes to our packaging, the cost may be too great to make it viable.
I have been lucky enough to obtain a job that includes a lot of interests of mine. Though working un the Athletic Nutrition industry is a dream job for someone with my interests, it unfortunately it produces quite a lot of waste with non-reusable packaging. It is also resource intensive given online sales and the shipping needed to distribute product nationwide. We have plans to make more environmentally conscious packaging and have already made improvements to the packaging we use to ship. Instead of using traditional packing peanuts, we have started using wood chips that are produced locally to our VT based headquarters. Sustainability is definitely driving our current decision making, we just have to make sure we are consciously looking at costs as well.
Portfolio Part 6 – SUST Reflection
Working on the capstone project this past semester has tested my abilities. I have learned a lot about myself, time management, and the importance of task delegation. There are many factors behind why this course has tested me over the past few months. Between other course load, another capstone project, traveling for work, and extra-curricular commitments, my time has been stretched thin. This has really shown in my ability to contribute significant time and energy towards the SUST capstone project, as well as other projects that I have had in progress. Delegating tasks within our group has proven to be a life saver for our team. Often in situations where one member is busier than others, the slack is picked-up by remaining group members. Luckily with delegation we were able to spread the workload out and each have equal contributions toward the final product.
The SUST Dual Major has challenged me in many ways. I have talked about the classes I have taken for the SDM have opened my mind to new and different viewpoints. Within the Paul College many students end up focusing in two areas related to business instead of stepping outside of Paul to see what else might be out there. I was lucky enough to hear about the SDM in a course, then attend an information session on the curriculum. It can be hard to step outside your comfort zone, but I am so glad that I did. If I had one thing to say to incoming underclassmen; it would be to try something new, especially if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Specifically related to the SDM I would say to make sure to take electives that sound interesting. Don’t just take the ones that sound easy. Overall, my time in the SDM has really changed my outlook on how I approach day-to-day life. I try to be as environmentally, socially, and economically conscious as I possibly can. Looking ahead, I am excited to see what I can do with the information I learned through choosing an unconventional business path.