Student Sustainability Research

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This collection highlights the work of students in the Environmental Studies course "Applied Sustainability Practicum." All work was created in Spring 2015 under the direction of Dr. Barry R. Muchnick.


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Now showing 1 - 13 of 13
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    Reducing Paper Consumption at St. Mary's College of Maryland
    (2015) Whiteis, Caitlin; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    In attempts to decrease resource consumption at St. Mary's College, I am trying to lessen paper usage on campus. In order to accomplish this I will be encouraging students and professors alike to use Blackboard in order to reduce printing assignments. I will also be placing signs around computers and printers encouraging students to reduce the margins on the pages they print and reminding them to print correctly the first time. Lastly, a group of students from this class will be providing a procurement plan to administration which will include purchasing double sided printers and more environmentally friendly paper.
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    A History of Sustainability at St. Mary's College
    (2015) Weller, Katherine; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    For my project I am looking at the history of sustainability at St. Mary's College, through the different research and projects that have been done. Over the years there have been countless environmental projects and research done but not an easy way to access it. As a part of my project I hope to compile most of this information and have it in an easy accessible location on the St. Mary’s website. As I gather this data I plan on documenting ways in which St. Mary's can improve their sustainability efforts. While our school has made strides in the right direction there is much more to be done. One of my main focuses for this project will be sustainability through the curriculum. I am currently in the process of creating a survey to send out to the professors of St. Mary's. This survey will be a sustainability course evaluation report and will allow professors to vocalize a course they teach that they believe incorporates sustainability. This survey will also allow professors to begin to formulate ideas for future classes within their discipline that incorporate sustainability. This project will encapsulate sustainability efforts that have happened already at St. Mary's and those that are to come in the future.
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    Green, Blue and Gold: Recommendations for Environmentally Conscious Athletics at SMCM
    (2015) Schneider, Lilian F.; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    As sustainability becomes an increasingly important issue around the world, people are looking for more ways to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices into their lifestyles. Athletics and recreation have a tendency to get overlooked when thinking of ways to increase sustainability. Additionally, many people ignore or do not realize the capacity of athletics to bring together communities, thus serving as a perfect platform for reaching out and encouraging environmental stewardship. That is why for my project I am putting together a list for feasible, sustainable practices that St. Mary’s athletics teams and the Athletics and Recreation Center can implement now or in the future, depending on their interests and availability of funding. Not only will these ideas help "green" the ARC and athletics teams, but they will increase environmental knowledge within the community, with the ability to transcend that knowledge to other fields and "green" St. Mary’s as a whole.
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    EnvironMentors Chapter at St. Mary's College of Maryland
    (2015) Rupard, Whitney D.; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    Launching an EnvironMentors program at St. Mary's College of Maryland will establish a secure relationship between our educational facility and St. Mary’s County Public Schools with the objective to increase environmental literacy of all students in the community regardless of their race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. This program will help disenfranchised high school students gain access to STEM related programs to decrease the achievement gap, promote environmental awareness and sustainability, and to increase interest of underrepresented youths in the Environmental Studies program at SMCM.
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    St. Mary's College Sustainable Community Cookbook
    (2015) Kersey, David; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    The community members of St. Mary's College of Maryland are interested in and responsible for sustainability because of the rich ecological, historical and cultural resources on campus. This sustainably minded approach has already begun to manifest itself on campus in the food system, however, we are required to continue its development. I wanted to create an avenue through which the wealth of food knowledge and wisdom held by individuals on campus could surface and become easily accessible community information. I opened dialogue with the vegetarian cooperative, whose goal is to eat sustainably, and eventually broadened the conversation to all community members in the form of all-campus emails calling for contributions. I was pleased by the enthusiastic response of the community, confirming my initial suspicions that a sustainable community cookbook would be supported into its completion. Based on support and feedback from the campus community, the cookbook is planned to be released online both in a printable hardcopy form and as an open sourced webpage, accessible to anyone. This will ensure that the cookbook serves as an evolving source for sustainable food initiatives on campus.
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    St. Mary's Day of Service
    (2015) Irvin, Lucas; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    One of the defining principles of the St. Mary's community, as stated in the St. Mary's Way, is a culture of community service. Whether this is a characteristic of the college or a goal for it, there is not sufficient participation on campus to support this ideal. Awareness of service opportunities is presently limited by a lack of visibility. Enhanced publicity of service events both around campus and online would cultivate awareness, but more could be done to cultivate interest. Service provides an opportunity for action and socialization, and I would emphasize that in promoting a campus-wide day of community service. For this event, student clubs and staff departments would organize several separate and interdisciplinary on- and off-campus service opportunities. This event would strengthen community bonds and provide academic enrichment, giving real-world context to abstract issues affecting our community. I am working with the Office of Orientation and Service Activities to plan this event for April 2016. I hope that it becomes a popular annual event and that it strengthens appreciation service and its benefits.
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    Saving Energy: Occupancy Sensor Lighting
    (2015) Derlan, Benjamin H.; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    In order to supplement campus efforts to reduce carbon emissions, I have conducted research on tactics to reduce lighting energy use. This included the history of sustainable lighting at St. Mary’s College, case studies from other institutions, and technical specifications of lighting options. After I established a substantial body of research on the best options available, a project was devised to implement occupancy light sensors into all of the dormitory hallways. In conjunction with the Sustainability Office and Student Government Association members, grant money has been secured to make this project a reality. When implemented, these sensors will not only save energy and money, but teach a new generation of students the importance of ecological responsibility.
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    Proposal: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland
    (2015) Chimento, Cyrus A.; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    In order to see progress towards climate neutrality, and sustainability in general, a baseline measure of campus emissions must exist. The goal of this project was to build a foundation for this baseline measurement by augmenting St. Mary’s College’s current efforts to quantify greenhouse gas emissions with other institutions' metrics and practices such that St. Mary’s College could eventually publish its own greenhouse gas emissions inventory report. This would have many benefits for the college including more targeted efforts to reduce environmental impact, increased financial savings, an engaged student body with an expanded educational experience, and increased value of the institution as a whole. After summarizing current efforts at St. Mary’s College and reviewing other institutions' greenhouse gas emissions inventories, I developed a list of emissions metrics that should be used at St. Mary’s College, as well as the sources, or likely sources, of those data. Further, I outline a system of reporting these data that incorporates individuals across campus, including students, faculty, and staff, into a relatively effortless and highly educational collaborative process of updating the emissions inventory. While this project was limited by time, the next step is clear: contact and organize the various individuals (outlined in this proposal) necessary for data collection. Successfully doing so initiates the process of annual reporting necessary for a greenhouse gas emissions inventory at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
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    Waste Disposal Action Plan for St. Mary’s College Pub
    (2015) Braker, Andrew; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    To promote a more sustainable St. Mary’s I am going to increase organization and efficiency of waste disposal practices at the Pub/Grab & Go on campus. Through the introduction of effective signage, the sorting of waste between compostable material, recyclable material, and trash will be improved. Sorting these waste types will increase the amount of compostable and recyclable material produced on campus, as well as decrease the college’s total garbage output. This initiative will improve the college’s waste disposal practices by diverting a large portion of waste from going to the landfill, supplying the school with increased amounts of compost for the campus farm, and promoting environmental stewardship across campus. Due to the simplistic nature of this sorting system, it is not constrained by scale or location. This plan can be replicated, scaled up or down, installed anywhere on campus, or even beyond the college’s boundaries. Introducing improved waste sorting practices to the Pub is a simple, straightforward way of promoting greater sustainability on campus, as well as initiating a far-reaching effect on the greater world.
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    Caffeine Without Consequence: Implementing a Reusable Cup System at The Daily Grind
    (2015) Lee, Eric; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    Waste reduction is one of the main concerns when it comes to sustainability, and college campuses around the world have a big role to play in that. Disposable food and beverage containers comprise a significant portion of trash from universities, making sustainable alternatives such as reusable cups a viable way to reduce overall waste. At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the on-campus coffee store The Daily Grind offers discounts on drinks for patrons who bring their own coffee mug in an attempt to encourage people not to use disposable paper cups. However, these efforts are currently not well advertised and used infrequently as a result. It is the goal of this project to improve on the existing system at The Daily Grind through improving awareness of both the program and the impact of disposable cups on the environment. In addition, to make it easier for students to participate in the program, reusable coffee mugs from the Campus Store will also be sold at The Daily Grind at a discounted price. With these additional measures put into place, I hope that more students will use reusable coffee mugs over disposable paper cups, reducing overall waste at St. Mary’s and contributing to a more sustainable future.
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    Sustainable Seahawks: The Opportunity for St. Mary’s Eco-Reps
    (2015) Beker, Max W.; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a small liberal arts college that is trying to be more sustainable, and although environmental and sustainability focused education is not part of our core curriculum, the St. Mary’s campus has an opportunity for great improvement. By taking advantage of peer education, the core principles of sustainability could be made accessible to every student without the addition of more classes to the Core Curriculum. By recruiting students to teach other students via an Eco-Reps program, students can engage in discourse about sustainability, and could do so via hands on learning. Interactive learning can be more effective than in-class teaching and can help to build habits that will stay with them beyond their time at college. Also, by taking advantage of the Eco-Reps disparate fields of study, such a program could help to integrate multiple disciplines such that students are made aware of the importance of all disciplines to the cause of sustainability. The research laid out within this report helps to lay the ground work for an Eco-Reps program that can then be organized and structured over the course of the next academic year. After the proper arrangements have been made, the St. Mary’s Eco-Reps program should go into effect fall of 2016.
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    Greening the Grab n' Go: Reducing the Plastic Waste of Dining Services at St. Mary’s College of Maryland
    (2015) Caradine-Taber, Sophia; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    This project aims to reduce plastic waste of the Grab n’ Go food service at St. Mary’s College of Maryland by stopping the usage of plastic bags and by replacing plastic utensils with compostable wooden utensils. Stopping the usage of plastic bags would be done most effectively by giving each student a reusable bag for usage at the Grab n’ Go. Students could purchase more bags at the Campus Bookstore if bags were to get lost, ripped, etc. This initiative would prevent the usage of 2,000 plastic bags per week. Plastic utensils would be replaced by compostable wooden utensils from the company Aspenware, which uses waste trees from the logging industry to produce utensils that could be collected and composted at the Campus Community Farm. A successful trial run with compostable utensils could help to start the composting of other compostable food service products that are already used at SMCM but that are thrown away with regular trash. I will be meeting with David Sansotta and Pat Hunt this summer (in charge of Bon Appetit dining services and Procurement at St. Mary’s, respectively) to discuss the designing and ordering of reusable bags and the trial run of Aspenware utensils. Both initiatives would be tried out during the fall 2015 semester.
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    Reviving the SMCM Healing Garden
    (2015) Piegols, Joseph; Muchnick, Barry Ross; St. Mary's College of Maryland. Environmental Studies Program
    Since the first Earth Day in the 1970s, countries around the world have been taking steps toward a greener planet and toward a more sustainable lifestyle. A relatively young concept within the realm of sustainability initiatives is that of integrated landscaping, loosely defined as the design of a space so that natural ecosystem elements are enhanced and/or mimicked for a domestic human setting. Sustainability efforts like these have become an increasingly popular focal point on college campuses, including St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM). Healing gardens are spaces that reconnect users with nature and that provide a physical or psychological restorative effect. As of late, SMCM's healing garden has fallen victim to neglect and is no longer a functional site. Through this document, I aim to highlight the topics of sustainability, of sustainable landscaping, and of healing gardens, and to propose the process by which the SMCM healing [garden] can be restored to a greater level of functionality via integrated landscaping methods for the benefit of campus residences and the local community.