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This is my story

Katharine Owens

Campus Sustainability

I earned my PhD in the Netherlands, where I lived for five years. It was both challenging and rewarding adopting the culture and customs of Dutch society, which included home births for our two children. We lived in a wonderful, small rural town. People got around on bikes and went to school for everything, including service occupations. It was a tremendous experience and I hope to take some of my students there in the future.

My POL 201 class, The Conduct of Political Inquiry, conducted a survey last semester on the campus community's attitudes, behaviors, and information levels about the environment. The purpose of this research project was to understand how members of the campus community feel and act in relation to the environment.

We found that students are socially aware about environmental issues, but that this area competes with so many others vying for their attention. We must continue to emphasize education and outreach, increasingly using social media.

As co-coordinator for campus sustainability, I worked with a student last spring to conduct a greenhouse gas emissions inventory on campus. We gained a snapshot of the carbon footprint of campus, with the goal of reducing future emissions.

Beginning in January, I will teach a course titled Sustainability in our Backyard. Students will identify a change on our campus that would lead to greater sustainability. They will analyze every aspect of that project, including conducting a costs-and-benefits analysis. I want each student to get a holistic view of what implementing a significant sustainability initiative would mean.

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