This spring, 10 Macalester sophomores and juniors will have the chance to participate in a new fellowship course called the “Sustainability for Global Citizenship Seminar.” The new course offering comprises the signature piece of the Margaret A. Cargill Campus Sustainability Grant Macalester received last spring.
Similar to the Chuck Green Fellowship, the program will be set up with two components: a spring semester course and a paid summer practicum working to solve problems for local organizations. The class will be taught by political science professor Michael Zis and will be registered in that department. As the title of the program implies, it will focus on using sustainability as an analytical lens which can be used to solve real-world, global problems.
“Many people hear sustainability and think it is environmentalism. I would say it’s a concern with the environment, but it’s also a concern with society and the sustainability of community, and the process of creating an economy that is lasting,” geography professor and Margaret A. Cargill grant co-director Dan Trudeau said. “To do that, we need a group of people to be thinking about it, because it’s hard for one person to handle all of that.”
Along these lines, both Trudeau and his colleague, environmental studies professor Christie Manning, emphasized that the fellowship program was open to all sophomores and juniors with an interest in sustainability, regardless of major.
“This opportunity that is something that is available to all-comers who are interested in sustainability,” Manning said. “We want people who are thinking about sustainability all the time. We want both to be able to build on the strengths that we have and the wealth of experience that people have in sustainability already, but also the people who are thinking about this a little differently to challenge all of us to get everybody’s perspective.”
This course is built off of existing opportunities on campus, such as the Chuck Green Fellowship. Additionally, there are many courses that already offer students the chance to explore issues of sustainability.
“What is special about this course is that it is focused on sustainability and it’s a six-month focus,” Trudeau said. “This is a course in which students are focused on how to work on sustainability in the world.”
The spring course represents an attempt to give students the tools necessary to succeed in their work over the summer.
“This is an entire 10-week summer project and a course devoted to giving you the tools and the knowledge and the training and the comfort, so that you feel in your comfort zone to go out and, as part of a team, be a change agent and feel empowered to do something that you feel strongly about,” Manning said.
During the summer, students will work in small groups partnered with local organizations and attempt to address an identified problem or issue related to sustainability. The hope is that this opportunity will not only benefit the students involved, but will help provide the organizations with tangible solutions as well.
“We’re committing resources to investing in [the program] both as transformative for the participants in the course but also in that it is a chance to generate change for the organizations that are joining us in this collaboration,” Trudeau said.
The course operates as part of the larger grant in attempting to foster sustainability education on campus. According to Manning, it will be taught this year and next year, with the hope of becoming permanent.
“The grant itself is three years, but beyond that we’re certainly hoping that this is something that can become a regular offering,” Manning said. “There’s potential for this to become much bigger than it is on paper.”
Those interested in learning more about this opportunity can go to a second information session, which will take place in Davis Court on Wednesday from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Additional information can also be found on the Institute for Global Citizenship’s website.