The Beloit College Pathways to Sustainability Leadership Program: Integrating sustainability across the curriculum
Beloit College’s Pathways to Sustainability Leadership Program supports the college’s mission of empowering students to “lead fulfilling lives marked by high achievement, personal responsibility, and public contribution in a diverse society” by working to integrate sustainability concepts across the liberal arts curriculum. Pathways develops student expertise and capacity for action, links learning opportunities with the creation and implementation of sustainability-related solutions, and promotes an intentional long-term approach to sustainable living within the college community. The developmental approach to student leadership offered by Pathways aligns well with Beloit College’s Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum and includes multiple facets. Sustainability Citizen activities in courses, residence halls, and work/study jobs introduce sustainability-related concepts to students to help them gain an understanding of sustainability and develop skills and practices that support responsible citizenship. The Sustainability Fellows Program gives students mentored summer internship opportunities in a variety of campus-and community-based settings. Sustainability Leaders Teams are three- or four-member collaborative teams of students and faculty and/or staff members who engage in a major sustainability project. Pathways is supported by an interdisciplinary Steering Committee, a Sustainability Coordinator, and a Hall Director, and coordinates with the Beloit College Revolving Loan Fund for sustainability infrastructure changes.
Pathways to Sustainability Leadership grew out of several campus activities, including the Sustainability Fellows Program, which began in 2010, pilot citizen courses in Political Science and Anthropology, and a leaders team that engaged in economic analysis of several carbon-reducing and water-use efficiency projects. In its first year of formal activity, Pathways succeeded in engaging students, faculty, and staff in sustainability-related activities across the curriculum. Students pursued projects that were mentored by faculty members from the humanities (Art History, History, English, Modern Languages and Literatures), the social sciences (Economics, Museum Studies), and the natural sciences (Biology, Geology, Physics). In addition, staff members from Communications and Marketing, International Education, Physical Plant, and the President’s Office; the Dean of Students; the Sustainability Coordinator; and the Sustainability Hall Director engaged students in a wide variety of projects. Examples of these projects include a series of public presentations and a museum exhibit on the extinction of the passenger pigeon, proposals for art installations at a proposed riparian restoration site, health and wellness proposals for a new athletic and recreation center, insulation of several campus houses, and a plan for the reduction of paper use on campus.