Sustainability Leadership Semester

"Learn here. Lead anywhere."

What is the Sustainability Semester?

The Sustainability Leadership Semester is an integral part of the sustainability track within the Goshen College environmental science major. Moreover, the Sustainability Leadership Semester satisfies nearly all of the requirements for the Goshen College sustainability minor, and is therefore open to all majors.  

Broadly, Sustainability Leadership is an interdisciplinary fall semester program designed to provide students with hands-on, experiential learning. This is probably not the teaching style you're used to, but it is more effective (proven fact) and way more fun (our humble opinion). We tackle the curriculum via problem-based learning where students engage real environmental issues of local concern while earning 15 college credits. To aid immersion into the topics, only two courses are taught at once, for a month at a time. This variation on a "block" schedule allows more interaction between faculty and student than one could ever hope to get in a traditional classroom. The courses, briefly:

  • Landscape Limnology - examine chemical and biological properties of water and their effect on the environmental, economic, and social health of a watershed
  • Faith, Ethics, & Ecojustice - study the intersection of environmental issues, social justice, and faith traditions
  • Sustainability & Regeneration - integrate the theory and practice of sustainable living
  • Environmental Policy & Politics - gain an understanding of the policy making process; analyze the interaction of social issues and scientific data
  • Environmental Problem Solving - use knowledge gained from the other courses to evaluate a real local problem, and arrive at an implementable solution

Note: The Landscape Limnology course fulfills the requirement for a Goshen College Student's Natural World Perspectives course.  Also, the Environmental Problem Solving course can serve as biology major's Junior Seminar class.  

There is also a strong focus on building and maintaining healthy communities. Students interact intensively with each other, a team of faculty, and community members to wrestle with the complex and interdisciplinary nature of the issues and possible steps toward positive change. This learning community provides an opportunity for students and faculty from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise to contribute. This is a crucial component of the SSR, because the hope of a sustainable future lies in our ability to communicate and cooperate with all stakeholders in a given issue. Our aim is to equip students with that ability.

As if that all weren't enough, Sustainability Semester students get to spend the semester living in Indiana's first LEED Platinum set of buildings: Rieth Village. Two cottages are available with all the sustainable features one could want: solar panels, solar water heaters, local timber, pervious pavement, ground-source heating and cooling, a wind turbine, an adjacent kitchen garden...and the list goes on. Moreover, Rieth Village is situated on the northeast corner of the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center's 1,189-acre property. This affords students with full access to 8 miles of hiking trails through a mosaic of restored native ecosystems, four bodies of water for boating, and ample space for personal recreation or meditation.

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Sustainability Semester