Sustainability Semester: Information for Advisors

Spring 2016

Breaking news!  First Year students may apply for the Sustainability Semester (next semester). Cathy Shrady will be offering an FYS as part of the course load. You might want to mention this option to FY students during advising sessions. The deadline is November 1st: here is a link to the online application. If students choose to do the Sustainability Semester FYS, they would live off-campus (route 68) and take all of their courses in the house. Below is the information sheet that Cathy Shrady put together with more details.  

Sustainability Semester: Information for Advisors

This is an opportunity, unique to St. Lawrence. It is an off campus-semester that takes place in the spring during which approximately 10 students live in an intentional community immersed in the study and practice of sustainability on a working farm 4 miles from the SLU campus. Students take a full academic course load (including, if they are first year students, FYS) on site. Each class examines sustainability through a different disciplinary lens (see below for course descriptions and credits for Spring 2016). Experiential learning is a key component of the semester. Students plan and cook meals together using produce grown and raised on the farm, participate in decision making regarding energy and resource use on site, help with farm activities such as animal care, food preservation, garden planning, seed starting, planting, green building design and carpentry. The deadline is November 1st to submit the general information form which can be found in the online application to indicate intent to apply. The rest of the application is due November 13.

In addition, all students participate in a CBL with a local organization doing work relating to sustainability and spend two weeks in Boston studying urban sustainability. While this is an off-campus semester, the Sustainability Semester is unique in that it offers students the option of maintaining close ties with friends and activities on campus as we actively encourage cross-fertilization and participating students may return to campus to take advantage of people, facilities and events on campus, and we encourage visitors to the Sustainability Semester site.

The Sustainability Semester is open to all class years. We aim to help our students become leaders in the area of sustainability. Career exploration is actively supported with resume and cover letter writing workshops and the opportunity to meet with many environmental and sustainability professionals.

Other facts:

  • It is possible (and common) to participate in the Sustainability Semester and a second off campus program
  • Students live in a newly-renovated farmhouse with electricity, running water, showers, and all modern technology (computers, cell phones, wifi, etc.). There is also a wood-fired hot tub!
  • Like other off-campus programs, students pay the same room and board as they would on campus
  • Students may continue to participate in on-campus activities such as club membership, etc. as it fits into their schedules. They generally find their schedules may prevent participation on sports teams and campus jobs

Spring 2016 Courses:

ODST 248 Sustainability Studies:/FRPG2076CBL Living on the New Earth: Building a Sustainable Future [CBL] Dr. Cathy Shrady
Global climate change and related human activity has rapidly transformed the Earth into a new planet, a planet in which, by conservative estimates, 50,000 species become extinct each year, a planet with far more extreme and violent weather, a planet with devastating drought, floods, and fires, a planet where famine and political and economic refugees have become common. While it is important to, and we will examine the interrelated causes of these phenomena, the focus of this course is on how we can and are, right here and now, building a future that is sustainable and equitable. In this course we will ask, and answer for ourselves: what does it mean to live more sustainably? What lifestyle choices can we make with respect to our resource and energy use? And, how, if we care about the environment and this planet, can we “walk the talk” and make a real difference? As part of this course, we will meet with many organizations and individuals in the North Country and the urban setting of Boston and discover a wide variety of lifestyles and career paths toward a more sustainable world. This course includes a CBL (Community Based Learning) placement with local organizations whose missions relate to sustainability as well as a two-week, intensive study of urban sustainability in Boston. All students in this FYS will live at the off-campus Sustainability House and farm in a community of like-minded students. Together they will practice living in a manner that is mindful of sustainability and will learn practical skills applicable to more sustainable living. (1.5 credits)

ODST 247D Sustainability Theory and Practice: A Critical Assessment Dr. Bill Vitek
This course will offer an overview and critical assessment of some of the founders, fundamental assumptions and contributions of the environmental sustainability movement in an effort to evaluate its effectiveness as an inside the paradigm response to the most critical challenges of our time.  How does sustainability stand up as a social movement, or as a successful response to the greatest challenges of our—or any—time in modern human history?  Can we speak of it as a single movement?  Does it represent a true social and conceptual revolution, or is it operating largely within the status quo worldview that brought us our environmental challenges in the first place?  Can it do the work we need it to do as an inside-the-paradigm movement or does the heavy lifting in response to climate change, soil erosion, a burgeoning human population, and the energy and material demands of complex cultures demand a fuller, deeper and more radical approach?  And if a more radical approach is necessary, will sustainability give us the time we need? (1 credit)

ENVS 367 (ESP) Ecological Restoration - Dr. Sara Ashpole
This course examines how the principles and techniques of restoration ecology are used in planning and implementing projects in degraded landscapes. An introduction to restoration ecology, conservation of biological diversity, ecological integrity, and sustainable land-use are major themes. Students learn field and analytical techniques pertaining to ecosystem management. Comparisons of restoration frameworks through case study analysis illustrate modeling and analytical techniques for the restoration field. A course field report gives experience in restoration approaches, planning, and implementation.  Where possible, guest lectures by professionals or stakeholders augment student experience (1 credit)

ODST, STPT Tiny House - Phil Royce & Everett Smith
In this course, students will learn the theory and gain the skills necessary to design and build a tiny house and, under supervision, will build the tiny house. They will consider energy efficiency, aesthetics, green design and materials. As a part of this course, students will visit other tiny and “green” homes in the North Country. (1 credit)

Credits/University requirements met:

Students participating in the Sustainability Semester, Spring 2016 will earn:

  • 4.5 credits
  • 1 ESP Environmental Studies credit through ENVS 367
  • 1 Environmental Studies credit possible through ODST 247D or Philosophy credit
  • 2.5 ODST credits
  • EL (Environmental Literacy) requirement met through ODST 248
  • Entire semester meets IL (integrated learning) requirement
  • 1.5 credits for FYS requirement FRPG2076CBL

On line applications for Spring 2016 Sustainability Semester due by Nov. 1, 2015:
The deadline is November 1st to submit the general information form which can be found in the on line application to indicate intent to apply. The rest of the application is due November 13.

View a 3.5 minute video on the Sustainability Semester:

For more information:

Questions: Contact: Dr. Cathy Shrady, Director ODST, Adirondack and Sustainability Semesters,, ext. 5015.