An Emory Oxford College student takes notes during a recent geology field trip to the Georgia coast. Photos, above and below, by Carol Clark.
Ciannat Howett, director of sustainability initiatives at Emory, writes in Emory Report on the need to connect students with the natural world, starting in elementary school. An excerpt:
Emory has the longest-running faculty-development program in the country, the Piedmont Project, to encourage the use of nature as a classroom and the campus as a living laboratory.
In a course co-taught in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and the environmental studies department, students were asked to find a natural water source on campus and to calculate how much of their day they would need to set aside for hauling water just to meet their daily needs for drinking, bathing, and food preparation. They then were asked to test the quality of the water to see if it was something that they really would want to use. This simple lesson is a life-changer. Students from a land of safe and accessible water are awakened to the realities and hardships of water scarcity for millions of people around the globe.
Ideally, educating for a sustainable future begins early. Since 1992 Eloise Carter, an Emory biology professor, has taught K-12 teachers ways to integrate environmental education into their lesson plans and to develop their schoolyards into outdoor classrooms.
It is impossible to measure the impact on a child of being taken outside—away from the confines of a desk—to feel the wind and sun on her skin and to see nature as having important lessons to teach. Perhaps it is time to enact a national policy of “No Child Left Inside.” Here at Emory, the doors are thrown fully open—for 60-year-old professors or 18-year-old first-year students.
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