Stony Brook Southampton Combines Curriculum with Sustainable Operations

NWF   |   August 26, 2008

Students at Stony Brook University’s new Southampton campus will help determine building design, campus energy decisions, cafeteria fodder and waste systems, as well as their own coursework, as part of an interesting real-time experiment on the intersection between university curriculum and operations.

Three new majors, available for the first time this fall, aim to give students a thorough grounding in the kinds of fields they will encounter in the sustainability world: ecosystems and human impact;
environmental design, policy and planning; and sustainability studies. A recent
article in the New York Times
cites the interdisciplinary nature of every Southampton offering; for example, “a course that deals
with endangered species could draw on climate change and land use as well as
literature, with a reading of Moby Dick. The goal is to create a synergy of science and humanities, engineering and literature, statistics and poetry, all in the same syllabus."

Perhaps most importantly, the program invites students to participate in the management of
their own campus. Students get to join committees to decide which speakers come, how to design new buildings, and what vegetables are grown in the greenhouse and provided to the cafeteria, and how to go paperless where possible.

It’s an interesting experiment, and we’re curious to see how much the subjects that students choose to study in the classroom will influence the decisions they make for the university.