Jim Feldman believes in hands-on learning. For his Environmental Studies 390 students, that means spending a semester digging through trash, visiting a landfill and participating in a national recycling competition.
The discussion and project-based class offers University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students a unique perspective on sustainability and its context in society.
“I like the hands-on approach of the class and have wanted to take it for some time,” said Kaci Worth, an environmental studies major. “There is nothing I like more than getting away from a desk to learn.”
Feldman utilizes the campus’s stature as a “green leader” to help students think critically about what a University should be doing about sustainability.
“We are looking at all the things that enable our University to operate that people don’t always consider,” Feldman said, referring to a recent field trip his class took to learn how UW Oshkosh is heated.
Students’ grades are measured largely by attendance and participation, plus one large project to measure how the University is managing its sustainability efforts.
“Students are required to conduct a real-world environmental audit and provide a report to UW Oshkosh’s sustainability council,” Feldman said. “This class is also focused on making the processes that manage our resources more transparent to the community.”
Raising awareness and encouraging participation in RecycleMania, a national recycling and waste reduction competition, is also a task for Feldman’s students.
Worth and her fellow classmates are planning a “Recycling Pile” event starting March 1 outside Reeve Memorial Union to visually represent the importance of recycling.
“We are setting up a small area for students to throw cans and plastic bottles through a hoop within a fenced area to demonstrate how much recycling we do as a campus,” Worth said.
Events like the “Recycling Pile” not only raise awareness but also give Feldman’s students valuable career experience.
“All of these things directly relate to the passion I have to make difference in my career,” Worth said. “I leave class almost every day with new ideas brewing in my mind that I have to work through a while just to bring it into my own philosophy.”