The Greening of Oberlin

Combine interdisciplinary academic studies with creativity to discover real-life solutions to environmental challenges and the rewards just might include greenery of the monetary sort.

Oberlin's environmental-studies program has won the Consolidated Natural Gas Company [CNG] Foundation's $100,000 Award of Excellence in Education for 1996. More than 70 colleges competed for the award, which recognizes innovative and effective programs at small, private liberal arts colleges.

"Oberlin College has built a model for environmental education in the 21st century," said a spokesperson for the foundation in a press release. "We were most impressed with the program's ability to apply practical and economically realistic solutions to environmental concerns."

Among the projects commended by CNG is the ongoing cleanup of Lorain County's Black River, one of 43 toxic hot-spots in the Great Lakes watershed. Over the last seven years, besides helping to establish the organization Friends of the Black River, Oberlin students have helped with public education, river monitoring, and research and data collection. Other student projects noted by CNG include: conducting resource- and energy-efficiency audits for the College and the city of Oberlin; planning and designing the 13,000 square foot, zero-emissions Environmental Studies Center; and reviving Camden Bog with new uses of restoration ecology.

--Marci Janas '91

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