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Sustainability Scholars learning community launches in fall 2017.

By the Sustainability Office

The University of Utah Air Quality Monitoring Station, the beehives on top of the Marriott Library, the Social Soup lectures — what do these three sustainable initiatives have in common? Each of them started as a student project.

Students at the U have long been a driving force behind campus change, though typically, sustainability study and application have been separate processes with dovetailing interests. Now, the Sustainability Office and the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program are launching the Sustainability Scholars, a new academic learning community that brings study and application together to transform campus.

Sustainability Scholars spend a year as part of a small interdisciplinary cohort, taking five credits of courses and collaborating on projects. The program is open to undergraduate students in all stages of their academic careers from programs and departments across campus. Only 20 scholars are accepted for each cohort, and the 2017-2018 application is due Aug. 25.

“The Sustainability Scholars program creates an exciting space for students to experiment with sustainability concepts and their own innovations. Combining diverse curriculum, small class sizes and the support of their peers and professors, students will use our campus as a lab for positive change,” said Adrienne Cachelin, sustainability education director and associate professor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

Program coursework includes ENVST 2100, a three-credit seminar course that explores how environmental and sustainability research is conducted in various disciplines. Scholars also take ENVST 3960 and 3802, one-credit design and project-based courses. In the fall, students develop their project ideas. During the spring semester, students implement their ideas and present the results to interested faculty, students and community members.

Students may take ENVST 2100 concurrently with ENVST 3960 while a Sustainability Scholar, or if they have already taken ENVST 2100 prior to applying for the scholars learning community, they may count those credits towards the program requirements.

Scholars will receive support for their projects, including mentorship from faculty and staff members, and the ability to apply for funding from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, the university’s green grant program.

“For the last eight years, the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund has been a resource available to students with a sustainable vision for campus,” said Emerson Andrews, the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund coordinator and scholars program manager. “With the introduction of the Sustainability Scholars, the practical power of SCIF meets the intellectual rigor of the classroom in a supportive and innovative learning community.”

Successful applicants to the scholars will have a 3.2 GPA and at least one year left before the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Up to 20 scholars are accepted for each cohort, with applications due Aug. 25.