Sustainability through Place Values
Students in Assistant Professor of English Judith Madera’s Literature and the Environment seminar (ENG 341G) class spent the fall semester exploring different sites of belonging through world literature and reflecting on the ways sustainability connects them to different communities of practice. Students considered the ways environments are composed through participation, and wrote about their relationships to the Wake Forest environment in these essays.
With Professor Madera’s guidance, students urged each other in class and around campus to be fully present in the ways they interact with their campus environment. They also proposed solutions for more sustainable technological practices in their essays. These papers reflect on the ways Wake Forest has shaped students as engaged individuals; students have come to understand the ways the college’s environs have provided a vital resource for their spirits. Though all of these short essays are different in their approaches to place values, they all share an important central insight: Sustainability is something that needs to be grounded in communities of belonging.
I am a huge advocate for sustainability. It is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. It is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.
And that is why at Wake Forest, the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) engages our community and links it with the global community to create more sustainable human and natural systems. Like Professor Madera did with her Literature and the Environment seminar students, college faculty encourage, teach and inspire our student scholars to collaborate in the classrooms and through the center to advance research opportunities, sponsor thought-provoking events, and delve deeper into some of the most crucial issues. The opportunities for research and collaboration are limitless.
Sustainability is big business and it is an important business. Sustainability must be incorporated into every life and business practice. I am encouraged by Wake Forest’s new master’s program created by CEES that will give students and early to mid-career professionals the diverse skillset they need to carve out a place in the growing sustainability marketplace.
Titles of essays submitted by students in ENG 341G include:
· Bioregionalism: A Mindful Walk into the Greater Living Community, by Sarah Millsaps, Hannah Padmos, Jenny Miller
· Responsible Progression: An Analysis of Wake Forest’s ThinkPad Policy, by Alex Gibson
· Spirit Places, by Sophie Kacha and Anmargaret Warner
· The Upper Quad, by Marina Flick, Jenny Magruder, Gordon Maas, Helen Williford