Source: O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Earlier this month, 18 high school students from across the U.S. joined IU faculty for an in-depth exploration of environmental sustainability issues through the seventh annual Summer Experience in Sustainability and the Environment (SESE).
Sponsored by IU’s Integrated Program in the Environment (IPE), the summer experience was designed to engage youth as they face the uncertainty of global environmental change. SESE participants explored sustainability and environmentalism beyond the scope of what would be covered in a traditional environmental science class, and they gained an understanding of the breadth of interdisciplinary approaches to environmental studies by touching on issues from the technical hard sciences, public health, arts and humanities, and more. The program also provided students with information about Indiana University-Bloomington’s many related degree programs and resources, as well as careers in the environmental field.
Climate change, fast fashion, and environmental ethics
This year, SESE was conducted virtually over a five-day period. Each day was led by a different instructor focusing on a new topic.
- Dr. Ben Kravitz led the students in climate modeling and encouraged participants to pool their collective knowledge of our natural environment to analyze how such models are used to understand climate change.
- Dr. Brian Forist taught about outdoor recreation and public health. After collaboratively designing a survey to measure how people engage with nature, students went out into their local parks and greenspaces to bathe in our natural environment and create a work of art based on their experience.
- Lori Frye lectured on the intersection of fashion and sustainability. After calculating the cost-per-wear of their own articles of clothing and calculating their personal fashion footprint, the students worked together to create an awareness campaign about the environmental impacts of fashion.
- Dr. Sarah Mincey had students gather data from their backyard urban forests and calculate how sustainable their local woodlands are.
- Emily Miles taught participants how to effectively communicate the information they had learned throughout the week using activities that emphasized the importance of ethics and equity, hope, fiction, and poetry in the environmental movement.
Inspiring the next generation of environmental leaders
The week was a transformative experience for all involved. The instructors’ comprehensive knowledge of sustainability created wonderful and diverse experiences that captivated these future leaders. While the participants were all passionate about sustainability and knowledgeable about our planet’s ecosystems prior to SESE, this experience allowed them to explore aspects of environmentalism of which they may not yet have been aware.
Reed Rouch, current IUB undergraduate student and 2022 SESE intern, shared, “It was incredible to see the campers engage with the material. While every day was a different topic, seeing the students combine the many aspects of sustainability into a multifaceted understanding of the topic was amazing to be a part of. It really gives me confidence in the next generation of leaders of the field.”
About the Integrated Program in the Environment
IPE is jointly administered by IUB’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Public Health, and College of Arts + Sciences. IPE’s interdisciplinary nature reflects a commitment to preparing the next generation of scientists, policy-makers, communicators, and leaders who face significant and complex environmental and sustainability challenges.
Students interested in SESE for future summers should keep an eye on the IPE website. For information about applications and other details, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.