Higher Education Webinars

Getting to Green

An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

January 9, 2013 - 5:45pm
The evidence that stories are effective and efficient teaching tools is generally based on test results -- improved reading, writing, science and math scores. But in terms of teaching sustainability concepts, stories have an additional advantage.  To the extent that they describe real-world (or seemingly real-world, or even imaginably real-world) characters and actions, each story situation is inherently trans-disciplinary.
January 8, 2013 - 5:22pm
Just before the holidays, I started reading about the teaching power of stories. That's "stories" in the sense that probably first popped into your mind -- enthralling tales of interesting characters facing challenges in pursuit of a goal.  Children learn to understand pattern, cause-and-effect, motivation, etc., not by having these things explained to them in some form of abstract exposition -- children learn these things (and many more) by seeing/hearing/vicariously experiencing them in action.  Along the way, their brains learn to expect a certain sort of information in a certain form, and configure themselves to process and store such information efficiently.  Memory works by story.  Our lives work by stories.
December 18, 2012 - 9:04am
When words don't suffice...
December 17, 2012 - 4:48pm
I may be the only person in Backboro who likes Limburger.  (Maybe not, of course.  It's unlikely that the local grocery stocks it just for me, but for sure there's aren't very many of us around here.)  Smelly.  Very smelly.  But a lovely flavor, and you get used to the aroma after a couple of decades.
December 13, 2012 - 5:44pm
For years, I've used the metaphor of lifestyle diseases -- obesity, diabetes, heart disease -- to help students understand that seemingly desirable behaviors, when taken to excess, can lead to negative and entirely unintended consequences.  Eat too much, enjoy too much leisure, degrade a system -- your body -- that evolved to prosper under circumstances of scarce food and regular exertion.  As a metaphor, it's served to help students understand that seemingly desirable social behaviors like production, consumption and energy (particularly, fossil energy) utilization can degrade a climate system that served humanity well under circumstances of minimal resource utilization and long-term carbon (coal, oil) sequestration.
December 6, 2012 - 7:27pm
I happened to watch an old movie last night.  Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.  1948.  Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglass.  A gentle comedy about a (generally) gentle man acting rashly, getting in over his head, coming out of it OK (because, after all, it's a Hollywood production).
November 28, 2012 - 8:16pm
OK, so I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  And my favorite Christmas decoration is the "Bah, humbug!" button my dame gave me years ago.  But I can still enjoy the occasional Christmas-related news item, especially if it has a sustainability twist to it.  Like this one does.
November 27, 2012 - 5:18pm
When I get off Greenback's campus and into the surrounding community of Backboro, I often work with local government and grassroots organizations concerned with sustainability.  The government groups, of course, are constituted within (and so inherently committed to) prevailing structures of governance.
November 18, 2012 - 6:02pm
Let's be honest. Almost any color, when paired with white, makes an endurable combination. But in the never-ending quest for uniqueness in branding, some school teams sport color combinations only a colorblind alum could love.
November 15, 2012 - 3:42pm
If you listen to the news coming out of New York and New Jersey these days, water is still on everybody's mind.  Not water per se, perhaps.  But certainly the long-lived impacts of water having been where no one particularly planned it to be.  Places like tunnels and electrical substations and the first floors of houses.  It seems that water is becoming an image, synecdochetic perhaps, for nature or the environment or the planet as a whole.

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