How SBCC Goes Green

Uploaded by SantaBarbaraCC on 19.05.2011

I'm Dr. Adam Green. I'm a Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology here
at Santa Barbara City College. I direct the Center for Sustainability.
My classes include Humans in the Biological Environment. It's an introductory class that looks at all the
different ways that humans populations interact with the environment, and in essence how the
environment then turns around and impacts human populations. There's a lab that goes
with that site and we travel around to different places in Santa Barbara and look at how the
human population is impacting the environment, and I teach a projects class that actually
asks students to conduct their own projects, they decide what they're passionate about
to make either the campus or the community more sustainable, and they have to design
and implement the project and turn in a report and do a presentation on the project at the
end of the semester. Quite possibly one of the best learning experiences for students
is really that class because they actually have to do the work, and have to learn by
doing, which is something that is unfortunately all to rare in colleges and universities now.
The Center for Sustainability is one that actually started with student energy, and
student effort from the student sustainability coalition. There's a group of very passionate,
well intentioned students that were looking to make a change here on the campus, and looking
to create a positive influence for students and for the community, and they started doing
a lot of projects here on the campus. They started working with the staff and the administration
here on the campus. They started networking out to other universities, and other parts
of the state, and one of the things that came out of that was a desire to institutionalize
sustainability. In essence, to make sustainability really a part of the campus. And obviously
the term sustainability is challenging because what is it that you're actually trying to
sustain? But basically what it is that we're looking at is, how do we create a system that
is respectful of the environment, of social systems, that is really something that protects
and at times even rehabilitates what we call ecosystem function. In other words, how do
we preserve our environment in a way that allows future generations to actually make
use of it and benefit from it, and not create a system that degrades those services. So,
what we did was we created this center which is really not a place so much as it is an
idea. And it's mission is to initiate and support sustainability, in the curriculum,
on campus, and in the community. So it's a broad mission, and we basically look at and
do projects in all those different areas. We work with a curriculum where we're helping
other faculty to understand sustainability and how to infuse that into their curriculum,
and we have a project called one planet faculty training, where faculty get together each
year and we talk about how they might incorporate some of these aspects that students are generally
very curious about interested in, but may sometimes falsely think that that's only in
the realm of environmental studies, so faculty in the English Department and Math and Political
Science, Construction Academy, Horticulture, Political Science, all these different arenas,
are able to discuss sustainability from either how it is associated with their discipline
or especially in the classes that are really skills based it provides them with another
option for content. We found this to be very successful & about 20 faculty have gone through
the program and we're working on more.
We work on campus trying to improve the sustainability of the campus itself.
We've been instrumental in the purchase of a 235 kilowatt solar array
on West Campus. We work with facilities on a variety of different programs to reduce
waste. We've improved the recycling program, we've been part of a pilot program to compost
food scraps. We are constantly working on decreasing single occupancy vehicles coming
to campus with our Transportation Demand Management Plan. In other words, trying to create a system
where the college is more efficient, more environmentally friendly, and at the same
time, the method of doing all that, is that we try to expose students to this process.
It's not easy. This kind of work, it's not something that, you just snap your fingers
and there's a change institution wide. You have to get in there, you have to talk to
staff, you have to make meetings, you have to deal with bureaucracies, you have to deal
with economic political and social environmental challenges. And you have to come up with solutions
that make sense on all of those realms. And it's probably one of the best learning experiences
a student can have is going through that struggle. If we just present it to you in a book, if
we just lectured to you about how it could be done or should be done, all you've done
is learn one perspective. You've got to learn it for yourself. And that's one of the great
benefits of a community college, and one like Santa Barbara City College, is that we are
truly connected to the community. We actually create opportunities for students who are
passionate about this to really learn how to do it themselves. One of the things we
do to encourage is that our community programs where we actually bring in well known speakers,
people who are doing this type of work on a national or international scale. They give
talks they run workshops, students have that opportunity to interact with them, then we
try to put together programs where students are able to put that new knowledge to work
and to use. It also connects students with this community of Santa Barbara, which is
so rich, with non government organizations and non profit organizations that are working
in a variety of areas, with businesses that are trying to find new ways and new solutions,
with municipalities that are all going through the same process of trying to decrease their
environmental impact, become more efficient, more resilient. And we've created some very
good programs for students to get involved with.
One of our programs is actually installing gardens in elementary schools.
We have partnered up with the Orfalea foundations' School Food Initiative,
And we're actually going into elementary schools throughout the county and
we're installing gardens so that children can learn where their food comes from so that
they can better connect with their food and with the environment. We have several city
college students and paid positions on that staff we also have numerous opportunities
for city college students to volunteer, and to get experience doing this type of work.
It's one of the more rewarding things I think for a student to be able to put to use these
skills and their time and their energy, and what they leave behind is something that's
growing. A garden that kids are using, and they're learning about food and the environment.
Something that is really a legacy that they leave behind and they can come back and look
at many years later and know that they actually contributed to that. So, what we really, one
of our real goals in all of this is, to really embody the idea that education goes beyond
the walls of the classroom. You can sit in a classroom and stare at a teacher and take
down notes and look at slides, but is that really education in its fullest? And we don't
believe so We believe that to really learn you have to combine that knowledge from the
books that knowledge from listening to lectures and getting that foundation with real world
on the ground struggling to actually make this thing work. and we're going through a
major transition right now. Everything is pointing to the fact that our economy is going
through a transition. There's going to be an entirely different job market out there.
Students in college right now are facing unprecedented challenges and at the same time quite possibly
one of the most exciting revolutions in our history as a society. We literally have to
change nearly everything that we do in order to maintain and really in many ways rehabilitate
an environmental system that has been degraded for far too long. That's going to impact every
single job sector. That's going to impact every single student coming out and going
into a career. And a student has a choice to either be negatively affected by that or
to actually take advantage of it and turn crisis into opportunity. And of the things
that I like to think that we do here with the center for sustainability with the environmental
studies program, with one of the best groups of faculty probably in the country at a community
college is we really create that opportunity for students to actually address these issues
that they face in a positive way in a solutions based approach, so that they can really see
that they can be part of the solution and create a career out of that, and enjoy a good
life style and basically be able to go home and sleep well at night.