Over spring break, I took the opportunity to try something different—I decided to spend my break volunteering. Like many Tech students do, I participated in an “Alternative Service Break” project with the Office of International Education (co-sponsored by Serve-Learn-Sustain); our destination was a small city in Florida called DeFuniak Springs, where we would take up residence for several days. Disembarking from the school on Sunday, March 19, our trip began like any other—no one really spoke to each other, or in certain cases came already with a friend.
Aglanta 2017, the first ever Urban Agriculture Conference held in Atlanta, was truly exceptional. As members of Engineers for a Sustainable World’s Hydroponics research team, we thought attending this conference would be a great way to network with the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) community, as well as with sustainability professionals in Atlanta.
This Spring 2017, the Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design course, Sustainable Systems Design, performed streamlined social and environmental assessments of everyday objects. They are streamlined, in that they provide back-of-the-envelope style assessments and did not include data directly from the producers. These are rough estimates and do not claim to be definitive. The three blog posts explore the potential social and environmental impacts of a water bottle, a stapler, and a stick of deodorant.
We teach students factual knowledge and expect them to assimilate critical thinking and synthesis, but this has always seemed odd to me; even presenting knowledge in a certain order, discussing assumptions, and pointing out flaws does not replicate the process of discovery and analysis that goes on when one is problem solving. I want my students to be, first and foremost, good problem solvers. Most of them will not be ecologists, but all of them will need to solve problems.
“The College of Sciences is all about knowledge creation…” When my fellow liaison Marc Weissburg said this during a discussion of the role of the College of Sciences in promoting service learning and sustainability, I was immediately struck by its truth.
During the Zika Outbreak, lessons our nation’s leaders learned about proactive response and preventive public health measures after Ebola made little difference in countering the disease, as Congress delayed funding for its efficient control.
Recently, the Georgia Tech Alumni magazine wrote an article exploring what “sustainability” means. Considering how much buzz (I know, it’s bad, but they make that joke too!) surrounds this word these days, many prominent figures around campus were asked to weigh-in.
SLS has a sophomore-level class called Technology and Sustainable Community Development. I coordinated the first offering in Spring 2016, with a team of diverse intellectual characters -- Sabir Khan (Architecture), Betsy DiSalvo (Interactive Computing), Jennifer Hirsch (SLS and City and Regional Planning), Wayne Li (Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering) and Dan Matisoff (Public Policy).