Sustainability Learning Community launches this fall

Meredith Whitlock

A learning community based on sustainability has made its first appearance at Iowa State this year. Learning communities are open to all new students coming to Iowa State. The purpose of learning communities is to help new students adapt to college life by interacting with peers who have similar interests.

This particular learning community, which is based in Greene House of Larch hall, was created by Stan Harpole, assistant professor in ecology, evolution and organismal biology, this past fall. Thus far there are five students enrolled; their majors range from environmental studies to aerospace engineering.

Graduate student Lauren Sullivan, teaching assistant for the community, said: “[The sustainability learning community] is important because the students get a chance to pursue other interests through their majors, but their interest in sustainability can overlap.”

The curriculum for the learning community allows the students to participate in sustainable activities around campus and the Ames community. They meet once a week to set goals and brainstorm ideas for projects and activities that will enhance their knowledge of sustainability.

This semester’s long-term goal is to have each student research and develop a proposal to activate a sustainable project on campus or in the community. The projects will be looked at by professors, and one will be selected and carried out during the spring semester.

Sara Jones, sophomore in insect science, learned about this learning community during housing registration.

“I didn’t know anything about sustainability and wanted to learn [more about it,]” Jones said. “I love the idea of the learning community. It is a great way to meet people.”

Jones feels she has benefited from the learning community because she has been able to interact with students who are all being educated on a specific, generalized topic. Although sustainability is not in her major, she enjoys learning about it and one day hopes to work in a state lab as an entomologist.

Upcoming activities include a guest speaker, Tom Drenthe, who helped start the farmers’ market in Ames. The members also have several out-of-class learning experiences planned, such as a tour of the ISU Power Plant. As for the future of the Sustainable Learning community, the staff is hoping more students will become active in it and show an interest in sustainability.