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Students in sustainability course preparing for challenges ahead

Led by Adjunct Professor Dr. Cari Bourette, eight WKU students studying sustainability are engaged this semester in a community practicum that addresses the challenge of transitioning to a more sustainable environment.

After taking previous courses that examined the concepts of sustainability and the implications of reaching limits to resources in the face of a growing world population, students in the Transition Community Practicum at WKU are preparing for the challenges ahead.

Offered by the Department of Geography and Geology, this practicum is a hands-on experience that explores the implementation of strategies to respond proactively to the new reality that post-peak oil implies.

Students participating in the practicum experience are Celena Allen, geography major from Hayward, Calif.; Ian Blaylock, a meteorology major from Lexington; Martha Caudill, a history major from Franklin; Tony Mann, an agriculture major from Jamestown; Daniel Price, an environment major from Harrodsburg; Kristin Smith, an advertising major from Lexington; Brenna Tinsley, a biology major from Glasgow; and Jon Zambrano, a geography major from Prospect.

“Ideas in this course are put to the test as to their practicality in the lives of the individuals taking the course as well as in a real community, such as the city of Bowling Green,” Dr. Bourette said.

Daniel Price practices using a blow gun during a sustainability community practicum course.

On an individual level, students have turned to planting gardens to supplement their food supply and to exploring non-fossil-fuel-based alternatives to fertilizer and pesticide. Students research and share primitive technology with each other, such as learning to make a fire bow, building snares to trap animals, and creating blow guns for hunting. Several students organized a trip to Lost River Cave to explore foraging for edible plants they have learned about.

At the community scale, a meeting is planned with the City Manager of Bowling Green to discuss the city’s plans to deal with the potential fuel and food scarcity issues that are likely to be faced in a post-peak oil world.

On a global scale, students are learning to watch for trends in current events and to spot signals for changes and challenges.

“Needless to say, this course keeps them busy and actively engaged in their world,” Dr. Bourette said.

“Sustainability is much more than just reducing power consumption or driving smaller cars,” said Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling. “These students are actively engaged in putting theory into practice by thinking about the limits to contemporary sustainability practices and by exploring the very real challenges faced by communities as traditional resources become less viable.”

Contact: Cari Bourette, (270) 745-4555.

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