Oberlin College has been awarded a grant from the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA)—a consortium of 13 private liberal arts colleges located in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—as part of its “Expanding Collaboration Initiative” funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant is awarded for a project in partnership with Albion College, Antioch College, DePauw University, and Hope College.
The project, called “Environmental Dashboard Implementation in Multiple GLCA Colleges to Foster Collaboration across Campuses,” will foster programs of teaching, research, and outreach across college campuses to heighten awareness of how human behaviors affect the well-being of the natural environment, as well as the sustained vitality of human society in local settings and the broader global context. It includes collaborative initiatives that seek to educate populations on college campuses, in public school systems, and in local communities about how changing practices can result in a more vibrant and sustained future for humanity.
Developed at Oberlin College, the Environmental Dashboard is a communication technology that combines real-time display of water and electricity use in buildings, organizations, and whole communities with photographs and words contributed by community members that celebrate positive thought and action. Using LCD monitors and websites, the dashboard employs compelling graphics to reconnect people with the natural world by making flows of resources visible and promoting sustainable behavior.
During the next two years, a core team of faculty and staff across the five participating campuses will work to install Environmental Dashboard technology to engage their respective institutions in curriculum development, research, and community outreach around the tool and instill cross-campus dialogue and collaboration. They will be joined by an extended team of up to 25 faculty from multiple academic disciplines who will be recruited through a series of workshops and outreach initiatives that will take place on the five campuses in spring 2015. The project seeks to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, administrators, facilities personnel, sustainability officers, and students, to make the Environmental Dashboard a common digital platform for communication, collaboration, and creativity.
“Creating a shared vision of a sustainable community requires the culmination of questions, perspectives, interactions, and actions of a diverse group of stakeholders,” says Md Rumi Shammin, associate professor of environmental studies and project leader. “An ongoing challenge is to provide meaningful opportunities for people to have closer ties with nature, natural resources, and each other in this digital era. This project opens up exciting new possibilities for interdisciplinary innovation on sustainability within and across the participating campuses and their communities using the interactive digital landscapes of the Environmental Dashboard.”
The project is a collaborative effort of a team of 17 faculty and staff members from the five campuses, including Cindy Frantz, associate professor of psychology; John Petersen, director and professor of environmental studies; and Deborah Roose, director of the Oberlin College Educational Alliance Network (OCEAN).
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