Sustainability Curriculum – As Interesting As It Sounds.


I decided to attend the 1 PM sustainability talk about curriculum (because that was really the only one that fit my schedule) and I will admit I wasn’t really entertained or amused on the subject matter.  The talk basically lasted an hour and was about the new curriculum that Bucknell would put in place in order to get this idea of sustainability across to the students.  It started off with one professor talking about the new requirements for engineers, and how they would need a sustainability class in 3 different categories.  The students would also have 3 free electives to pursue other areas of interest, or to increase their course load on sustainability if they chose to do so.  The talk then transitioned into Professor Hiller talking about sustainability and the management program, and some of the courses to be offered to the students that has a focus on sustainability.  After that was a talk on Bucknell in Nicaragua, and then a sort of summation and wrap up.  At first I thought the talk could have been interesting as they talked about the importance of sustainability to Fortune 500 companies and how a heavy majority issue sustainability reports annually, but then it took a turn towards Bucknell curriculum and it became immediately uninteresting.  I feel as though the seminar was more for current professors than for students.

Our discussion in class afterwards was where my thoughts were when we said that people who are interested in sustainability will pursue these opportunities on their own, and they shouldn’t really have to be forced to take classes on it.  I know I took a class on sustainability and really didn’t find the material to be interesting, personally.  I was okay with taking one course on it, but would NOT want anything else in my curriculum on that material.  I feel like having 3 courses required for sustainability is overkill, and would not be enjoyable for those students who do not want to have a career associated with it.  People who are actually interested in the subject matter will be the ones who will sign up for these classes, and they shouldn’t really be mandatory.  I know I am a management major, but finance interests me so I used my available course space to take classes that I liked.   I think people who like the topic of sustainability would chose to form their curriculum around that interest as I have around finance.

Leaving the seminar I was glad I was a senior and wouldn’t have to take these courses as a requirement.  As a liberal arts school I have already had to take courses I had no interest in (like 2 lab sciences) and wouldn’t want to add more classes to that list.  I think there are other ways to get sustainability into the school.  They could offer more clubs, more classes (but electives, not mandatory), more seminars, or anything that is informative without changing the curriculum.  I understand the importance of the topic, but I don’t see its importance so much at a collegiate level.  A lot of the learning you experience for your career is done on that job, and I find that a lot of things learned in college are eventually lost on kids because it is more theoretical than practical.  Classes help prepare students for work load, time management, listening, oral presentation skills, and many other valuable areas of development, but specific knowledge that will be used on the job is more so learned ON the job.  It should be interesting to see how the new proposed curriculum pans out at Bucknell, and how the students respond.

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