Student Orientation Focuses on Sustainability
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – As part of its orientation for new students, Smith College is going beyond the perennial sessions about how to select courses or navigate the housing lottery. This year, incoming students have the chance learn how to minimize their environmental impact on and off campus.
The new pre-orientation program, open to about 30 students and titled “Sustainability and Ecological Literacy,” will run from August 28 to 30.
“One of the most important questions facing humanity is how can we live in an environmentally sustainable fashion,” said Professor L. David Smith, the director of Smith’s Environmental Science and Policy Program. “According to one calculation, the average U.S. citizen has an ecological footprint that is five times greater than what the planet can support. We can do better than that and it starts with education.”
Prof. Smith plans to explore such topics as where the water and food at Smith comes from; where waste goes; what system powers campus and how students can save kilowatts and BTUs.
There are also such basics to address as how to recycle here, how to travel around the area without a car, and what kinds of environmental courses and student organizations are options at Smith.
It won’t all be classroom work; Prof. Smith will introduce students to the key people on campus who work to make operations more sustainable and the curricula more environmentally focused. Short field trips to locations such as the city’s water sources, wastewater treatment facility and Smith’s power plant, will give the students an ecological sense of place.
Smith College is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country, enrolling 2,800 students from nearly every state and 61 other countries. Smith educates women of promise for lives of distinction. By linking the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, Smith is developing leaders for society’s challenges.