Pilot learning community offers 360° view of sustainability

A pilot learning community program at UW-Green Bay is helping keep sophomores engaged in University life while inspiring a 360-degree view of the issues.

The Sustainability Learning Community is wrapping up its debut semester to acclaim from students and instructors alike. Truly interdisciplinary in nature, the community is a core group of students that explores environmental issues in three courses — Associate Prof. Christopher Martin’s intro to philosophy, Professor John Katers’ energy and society; and senior lecturer Don McCartney’s business and its environment course. A fourth common class meeting — and field trip and other experiences — complete this well-rounded program for students who say they love learning in new ways

“It’s really opened my eyes to how taking a course in something that isn’t your emphasis, isn’t your major, can still benefit you,” said sophomore Kelsey McCormick, an Environmental Policy & Planning major. “I feel like the value it’s going to have toward my environmental major — it’s just, it’s irreplaceable.

Classmate Marissa Michalkiewicz is a Business Administration major who is minoring in Environmental Policy and Planning. She heard about the pilot opportunity from her softball coach, and jumped at the chance.

“When I heard about this opportunity, I thought it would be great to have a real-world experience — and for a college student, that’s all you really want — to have a real-world experience with your classes and your information,” Michalkiewicz said. “So that’s why I chose to join this program.”

The Learning Community pilot has been a success, Martin said, further connecting sophomores to their University while encouraging collaborative thinking and learning in new ways. Those benefits will last throughout students’ academic careers and as they enter the workforce, he added.

“What people really need employees to do is solve problems, and so this is the exact kind of model for students to learn to do that,” Martin said. “(You) take a learning community on sustainability, you learn to address these issues from many different points of view and to solve problems with all of these different interests, if you will, in mind.

It’s something students say they’ll take with them even after the community experience ends.

“It was just a really good experience for me to see all the different problems that need to be solved,” McCormick said, “in order to focus on one aspect that needs to be changed.”