Conversations on Sustainability

Sustainability is an idea that reaches far beyond the scope of renewable energy or individuals trying to “live green.”  So far, our class has delved into the topics of food production, consumerism, recycling, packaging waste, industrialization, economics, energy production and usage, global warming and climate change, and personal, corporate, and governmental accountability for sustainable practices. Our students seem to really enjoy thinking about new and complex material, and have proven to be very adept at making observations about the interconnected nature of many of these concepts. So far, our class discussions have been incredibly rich and engaging.

VAMPY 2012 Sustainability ClassBesides conducting seminar-style roundtable discussions, we are using various Web 2.0 tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between the students on sustainability topics. One of the more popular tools has turned out to be an online tool called “Spiderscribe.” Students log in to our class account to access one of our discussion webs. Essentially, it is an interactive concept-mapping tool in which students can ask questions, post links, add comments and respond to one another’s ideas in a non-linear, visually oriented fashion in real-time. Follow this link to view some of the Spiderscribes we’ve created so far.  As teachers, we have been very impressed with the thinking that has been going on in this class, and we think you will be, too!

Another Web 2.0 tool we are using is called Diigo. We have a class Diigo account which acts as an online library of bookmarked links on the topic of sustainability. Any member of the class can quickly and easily add or access links of interest from our Diigo site. It is a wonderful tool for collaboration and for research…it puts the old stack of index cards of references to shame!

Students have also been learning how to create their own “glogs.” What are glogs, you ask? Glogs are essentially interactive, online posters (in the spirit of a blog in a more visual format) that allow users to easily embed links to websites, videos, audio, slide shows, photos, and other glogs. Most of the students are still in the process of creating their glog pages at this point, but we will post a link to their work when things are farther along.VAMPY 2012 Sustainability Class

Some of the students have chosen to upload their “100 Things” list to their glogs.  We did a highly engaging activity on “stuff” this week called “100 Things.” Each person in class, including the teachers and our teaching assistant, had to write a list of what we would keep if we were forced to whittle down our possessions to only 100 things. We collectively decided that 3 pairs of underwear would count as one item, as would other basic clothing items. This turned out to be a necessary amendment. Otherwise some students would have ended up with nothing on their lists except clothing, while others apparently would have chosen to live wrapped in a blanket instead of having any clothes at all to avoid wasting any space on their lists for some of life’s other necessities: multiple computer peripherals and cable adapters, a plunger, and a goat. The goat is to act as a sustainable alternative to owning a lawn mower that would also provides milk, hair for yarn, and companionship. The plunger was simply a plunger. Both very practical choices in their own right — but you still need some clothes!

Stay tuned for our next blog enty: Thursday’s field trip to Western Kentucky Minerals and the Ohio County Balefill.

VAMPY 2012 Sustainability Class