In The Classroom
In addition to more than 100 courses that relate to sustainability from a variety of departments, in the fall of 2012, the University of Tennessee began offering a Sustainability Major. Students studying sustainability aim to develop the skills necessary to create ‘creating a society that reduces its impact on the natural environment, creates a healthy economy, and meets the social and emotional needs of its citizens.
UT also offers a certificate in Sustainability Science as well as an interdisciplinary PhD program which researches challenges related to research of sustainable energy.
Experiential learning is heavily emphasized in the sustainability related courses and majors. Whether it be hands on projects, field trips, volunteering or interning for an environmental organization, students are encouraged to actively engage in sustainability initiatives throughout their studies.
In 2011, UT’s Team Living Light was awarded eighth place in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The team’s energy-efficient solar-powered home was supported by the work of more than 200 students representing nine different academic programs demonstrating the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability.
In April 2010, a team students won top honors at the P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) Award Competition during the EPA’s National Sustainable Design Expo held in Washington, D.C. As its prize, the team was awarded a grant of $75,000 to construct its energy-efficient and sustainably designed “New Norris House” which is one of the first buildings in TN to earn Platinum LEED certification in the homes category.
An on-campus farmers market, UT Harvest Market, opened in May 2010. A project of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Organic & Sustainable Crop Production program, the market is operated by student interns who are interested in farming and farmland preservation. As part of their internship, the students complete two for-credit courses related to organic crop production and plant science.
In the Spring of 2014, UT Sustainability and UT Recycling partnered with a group of students in the Venture Living and Learning Community for their Business 102 course. The students worked throughout the semester to develop the business plan for a student-run mobile thrift shop in order to increase awareness of consumption issues and provide students access to a more sustainable option. The students were tasked with developing the financial, management and marketing plans for this endeavour which the named reVOLve.
Students studying sustainability participate in internships as a part of their practicum experience in their Junior or Senior year. Students connect with environmental organizations both on and off campus to complete this internship experience. Students are encouraged to seek out opportunities that give them hands on experience in areas of sustainability they would eventually like to work in. The Office of Sustainability’s practicum interns are currently conducting large scale data collections and surveys for Grounds and Transportation.
For more information about UT–affiliated sustainability research, demonstrations, etc., visit the sustainability resources page maintained by the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment and the Sustainable Energy Education and Research Center.