Thursday, October 27, 2011

MLK, Jr.Day of Service

Hi, GCSN folks!

I'm writing to invite you and your students to join Georgia Perimeter College's Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning in our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. On this day, GPC students, faculty, staff, and administrators participate in service learning projects throughout the Metro-Atlanta area, actively honoring Dr. King's lifetime of service. These events will take place on January 16, 2012, beginning with meet-ups at GPC's Clarkston, Dunwoody, and Newton campuses. From these starting points, our service learning groups will head to their respective service learning projects.

Some of the projects include a clean up project at the Flat Rock community slave cemetery, Lyons Farm community garden prep, AWARE animal rescue clean up and renovation, Stone Mountain Park invasive species removal (fancy way of saying, "pulling weeds"), and several other projects.

We are inviting you and your students to join us in an effort to encourage future partnerships and collaborations between our institutions' students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Due to the logistics of managing such a large project, we want to limit this invitation to student groups on your campuses that are somewhat geared towards sustainability. If no such groups exist on your campus, I encourage you to identify students from your classes or with whom you have worked with and whom you know to have an interest in sustainabilty. My personal hope is that this event can provide our students an opportunity to network amongst themselves and that those connections will lead to future student-led initiatives in the areas of service learning and sustainability. I figure,if we get a state network, so should they.

Because this date is rapidly approaching, I ask that you contact me before the end of the fall term to let me know if you would like to participate and the number of students you are bringing. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns (see information below).

I hope to hear from you soon!


What: MLK Day of Service
When: January 16, 2012
Where: Throughout the metro area
Contact: Tyrie Smith,

Friday, September 30, 2011

Water Conservation Workshop at Georgia Southern University

On September 16, 2011, the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network (GCSN) hosted a Water Conservation and Reuse Workshop at Georgia Southern University.  With support from National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program and the GCSN Steering Committee, approximately 35 participants from 16 different campuses came together for peer-to-peer learning and networking, with a focus on water conservation.  Of the 16 campuses represented, five had never participated in a GCSN event before.

Water Conservation and Reuse Panel
We began our day with light refreshments, introductions, and a round of "speed-networking" to help participants get to know each other one-on-one.  The networking session was followed by presentations on campus water conservation and reuse initiatives from representatives of the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia, Agnes Scott College, Emory University, and Georgia Southern University.  Common themes of the presentations included rainwater harvesting for irrigation, native and drought-tolerant landscapes, grey water capture and reuse for flushing toilets, low-flow water fixtures, green roofs, permeable surfaces for recharging underground aquifers, and other storm water management best practices.  Presentations were followed by a question and answer session with all the presenters.

Georgia Southern University's Bioswales
After lunch, workshop participants enjoyed a tour of Georgia Southern's campus that highlighted water conservation efforts by the campus.  Our first stop on the tour was the new bioswales on campus.  This low-lying area had plagued the campus grounds crew for years, since water would collect there and make mowing nearly impossible.  By incorporating native wetlands plant species into the drainage area, mowing has been eliminated, the appearance of the landscape has improved, and this very beautiful part of campus is actually serving as a filter, helping to clean the water coming from the nearby parking lot.

Permeable Surfaces on Campus
The tour continued, featuring several examples of permeable surfaces on campus, drought-tolerant landscaping, and ponds surrounded by wetlands vegetation to treat and capture storm water runoff.  Our workshop concluded with a quick walk around the wetlands preserve at Georgia Southern University's Center for Wildlife Education.  It was amazing to see how Georgia Southern and many of the colleges that presented have approached water conservation as an opportunity to not only save money and resources, but also as a way to enhance the beauty, function and appeal of their campus.

Storm Water Retention Ponds with Wetlands Vegetation
All in all, the event was a great success!  With new connections made, practical initiatives and advice shared, and a better understanding of how to implement water conservation and reuse initiatives on campus, participants left feeling inspired and empowered to improve water management practices on their own campuses.  Many expressed interest in following up with each other and staying connected through the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network.  We look forward to continuing to build campus to campus relationships, share best practices and resources, and foster collaboration for water and resource conservation across the state!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome to the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network community blog!

This blog has been created to facilitate sharing of best practices and success stories related to campus sustainability at Georgia's institutions of higher education.  Sign up to be an author and share your story today!  If you have any questions or need technical assistance, please contact Carly Queen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Southeastern Faculty Build Capacity for Infusing Sustainability Across the Curriculum

On May 17-18, 2011, 25 faculty members from 16 campuses across the Southeast participated in the Sustainability and Curriculum for Campus Leaders "train the trainer" workshop, hosted by the Georgia Campus Sustainability Network, Agnes Scott College’s Office of Sustainability, the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program and Emory University’s Dr. Peggy Barlett.  Participants came from campuses in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama  that ranged from small liberal arts colleges, such as Warren Wilson College and Georgia Highlands College, to community colleges, like Georgia Perimeter College and Tallahassee Community College, to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, to major land-grant universities, like Auburn University and the University of Georgia.

Click for more photos!
Dr. Lissa Leege of Georgia Southern University poses a question to Dr. Barlett and other workshop participants.
Dr. Barlett has been hosting “train the trainer” workshops for faculty leaders who wish to develop curriculum change programs, with a focus on infusing sustainability into the courses and curricula offered on their campus, for the last six years.  She has worked with over 300 faculty leaders from more than 200 schools in nine different countries to teach them about creating their own version of the very successful Piedmont Project at Emory University, which annually brings Emory faculty members from many different disciplines together to share and develop strategies for infusing sustainability into their courses and curricula.

This workshop was specifically designed and promoted to engage faculty leaders from a variety of institutions throughout the Southeast, especially those who may not have had access to this type of professional development opportunity in the past, due to highly competitive application processes and a lack of financial resources or campus support for sustainability initiatives.  Over the course of the two day workshop, Dr. Barlett created a space for participants to learn not only about her successes and struggles with the Piedmont Project, but also to learn with and from each other when it comes to strategies for integrating sustainability into their campuses' diverse course offerings and convening faculty summits to help accelerate this process across campus.

The workshop began with introductions to several concepts related to environmental, social and economic sustainability, including several definitions, teaching using the campus as a learning laboratory, the impacts of unsustainable growth on public health, nine ways to change a course, and more.  In some ways Day 1 was framed as an example of what a faculty summit might look like on a participant's campus.  Day 1 ended with individual reflection and then a group reception in Agnes Scott College's LEED certified Alumnae House.  Day 2 focused in on the Piedmont Project model itself, with an overview of the model including tips for success and several exercises aimed at developing learning outcomes and strategies for infusing sustainability across the curriculum campus-wide.

Feedback received from workshop participants was overwhelmingly positive.  Here is a sampling of the anonymous feedback we received:

"We do not have a sustainability program yet.  I feel that insights gained here will help me jump-start a program and perhaps avoid some potential pitfalls.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to have participated."

"Initially I perceived my role as an educator looking for tools to improve my course.  Now I perceive my role as an agent of change."

"I feel inspired and empowered to now spearhead a sustainability workshop at my college."

We look forward to following up with everyone who attended in the years to come to see how this event helped them to catalyze a movement for sustainability across the curriculum on their campuses and how National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program can continue to support their work!