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University-Wide Environmental Literacy

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A Call for University-Wide Environmental Literacy To Whom It May Concern, We, the student body of the New School, applaud and appreciate the commitment that our university has made to sustainability. We believe that a school like ours has a responsibility to minimize its ecological impacts and advance the cause of environmental awareness, and when our school succeeds in this effort, it makes us proud. However, as ideas about sustainability begin to penetrate into a wide range of curricula, a discrepancy is emerging. Many students do not have the basic environmental literacy to engage these topics in the way they would like to, and can be put at a disadvantage. In many programs, a writing class is required in the first year to ensure that students have a grasp on good academic writing, a tool they will need in every other class in their college career. The same is true of visual communication and history in most design programs. While issues of sustainability can arise in one way or another in almost any class, there is no such ‘baseline’ course related to it. This letter asks for such a course to be created and implemented in the earliest stages of the career that New School students embark upon when they enroll. If the school is to effectively advance the ideals of sustainability and environmental awareness, it needs to be giving its students the tools they need to engage these issues at a basic level, whether or not they comprise their main field of study. Curricula and courses of this type already exist at a number of other universities. A simple course, integrated within the structure of the first year programs, would inform our student body and elevate the discourse on sustainability at our school. Because sustainability is not a discipline, but an ideal that can and must permeate all disciplines, we believe this is a necessary measure.


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