Sustainability Efforts Continue With Classes Intended to Raise Awareness

Return to Issue of June 29, 2009

Tom Euclide

Kent State is continuing its efforts to become a leader in sustainability on its campuses and in its curriculum. During the spring semester, the College of Technology offered the special topics course Sustainability, and will offer two sustainability-related classes in the fall semester.

Dr. Michael Salkind, instructor, says the class served as a broad interdisciplinary course that emphasized the global economic and social context in which sustainable technologies can solve the world’s most pressing problems of poverty, preserving and improving the world ecosystem, reversing global warming and more effectively using natural resources.

“The main focus of the class was to raise the consciousness of the students,” Salkind says. “The future has a lot of challenges. And whatever the students do, they need to work in a broader global context.”

The class relied on magazine articles, videos and guest lecturers and culminated with team projects.

One team of students focused their project on energy-efficient automobiles, while the second team focused on educating Kent State students about sustainability.

Although Salkind says he didn’t expect students to carry out primary research, the team focusing on education conducted a survey. From a sample of 100 Kent State undergraduates, 90 responded that they weren’t educated about their impact on the environment. The students from the class discussed their findings with Dr. Verna Fitzsimmons, interim dean, College of Technology, and co-chair of the Sustainability Task Force.

Fitzsimmons says the survey findings helped validate an interest and a need for sustainability classes.

“Part of what we need to do as a university is educate,” Fitzsimmons says. “This class was an initial course in trying to get students to think about sustainability and what it means professionally and globally.”

More students will have an opportunity to learn about their effect on the environment by taking two special topics classes, Life Cycle Assessment and Environment and Technology, during the fall.

Fitzsimmons says the life cycle class will help students learn how to determine if a product or initiative is truly sustainable. The environment and technology class will examine the scientific and philosophical sides of sustainability.

In addition to educating more students about sustainability, Fitzsimmons hopes to get more students as well as faculty, staff and community members involved with the Sustainability Task Force.

“Anyone can participate,” Fitzsimmons says. “Having more people involved is better for the university.”

Individuals interested in joining the Sustainability Task Force may contact Fitzsimmons at or Tom Euclide, executive director of facilities planning and operations and task force co-chair, at

By Lindsay Kuntzman


Return to Issue of June 29, 2009


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