09.26.13 VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University senior Michelle Velez (Garden City, N.Y.) served as the only undergraduate on an important sustainability panel at the National Academy of Sciences Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. The event was part of the Sustainability Improves Student Learning (SISL) Convocation, supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Velez, an Environmental Science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS), spoke of how classes addressing sustainability across many disciplines at Villanova have shaped her undergraduate experience. Dr. Chara Armon, a Lawrence C. Gallen Fellow in the Humanities at LAS, recommended Velez to the panel’s organizer, Dr. Debra Rowe, who selected her to speak in the panel entitled “Faculty and Student Perspectives: How does learning in the context of sustainability contribute to student learning outcomes? What does it look like in the classroom?”
Dr. Rowe and the panelists were particularly interested in Velez’s sustainability learning in her core classes, such as the Augustine and Culture Seminar’s (ACS) Environmental Learning Community, a Philosophy course entitled “Food, Sustainability, and Place,” a Biology seminar, “The Environment and Human Health,” as well as a course entitled “Growing into Justice through Agriculture,” offered through the University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education.
Velez brought to the panel not only her coursework experiences at Villanova, but her recent involvement studying organic agriculture in Panama and her leadership on campus in relation to the Villanova Community Garden student organization, the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, and Villanova’s Chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby.
Other panelists at the Sept. 19 event included faculty from Wellesley College, Xavier University, and Shippensburg University, who highlighted how they incorporate sustainability into their curriculum in mathematics and computer science courses.
SISL is a collaboration of Project Kaleidoscope at the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS), and Mobilizing STEM Education for a Sustainable Future. This three- year initiative is focused on better preparing undergraduate students to address real-world issues of sustainability through coursework across disciplines.
Villanova continues to integrate sustainability programs into its curricula, scholarly research, academic and community events, and institutional policy and practice. The University has numerous academic programs that provide an emphasis on sustainability, including: master’s degree in sustainable engineering; first-year ACS Environmental Learning Community; bachelor’s degrees in environmental science, environmental studies, and environmental biology/ecology; undergraduate minors in environmental studies and sustainability studies; biology master’s degree, graduate certificate, and advanced graduate certificate with a concentration in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology; master’s degree in water resources and environmental engineering, a graduate certificate in urban water resources design, and graduate sustainability course in “Sustainable Industrial Chemistry.”