International Educator - May/June 2012 - 48
Students on Madison college's renewable energy for the developing world program measure the output of a solar panel before installation.
other small-scale technologies. Madison partners with Solar Energy International, a nonprofit organization that develops hands-on projects in Costa Rica but does not offer academic credit, and Rancho Mastatal Environmental Learning and Sustainable Living Center, an ecovillage providing lodging and meals for a nine-day stay. The trip is preceded by an eight-week online course. Now Madison College is administering a Capacity Building in Study Abroad grant from the U.S. Department of State to help other community and technical colleges offer similar study abroad programs. The first cohort of schools invited to the training had sustainable energy programs on campus but no study abroad. The second cohort included schools with more robust study abroad programs, but fewer options in renewable energy. Participating faculty attend Madison’s program in Costa Rica and then develop their own short-term, faculty-led programs in engineering, renewable energy, sustainable development, or a related field. Madison provides mentoring and best-practice workshops on curriculum development, health and safety issues, and liability mitigation. Participating institutions market their new programs to all the partner institutions.
Maine Maritime Academy is launching a spring break program in Nicaragua while Heartland Community College in Illinois is partnering with Spanish language classes on a solar energy installation project in Belize. Geoff Bradshaw, director of international education at Madison, hopes to have a network of 24 colleges working together on sustainable development programs. “One of the sea changes in the last five to ten years is the globalization of employment in every sector of community college employment,” says Bradshaw. “Ten years ago, we thought we were training for local companies and global education was a nice add-on. Now virtually every academic and technical vocational training program agrees that global competency is critical.” Alfred State College, part of the State University of New York system, sends architecture and business students to Sorrento, Italy, each spring. Architecture professor Jeff Johnson learned that the city had commissioned a study to develop a new piazza near the ferry boat port. So he had the Alfred students investigate the potential for an economically and architecturally sustainable rehabilitation and expansion of the port. Associate professor Dianne Tuzzolino asked her business students “to think about the port through the eyes of business sustainability—social responsibility, environmental accountability, and economic vitality.” The students rejected the idea of expanding the port to accommodate more cruise ships in favor of a proposal to bring in more pleasure boats, whose owners would be more likely to patronize local businesses. The students presented their ideas to Sorrento Mayor Guiseppe Cuomo, who is still evaluating all the options. “We have increased students’ awareness about how they can influence what happens in the future,” said Tuzzolino. “In business we often think of the bottom line, but we have to think about the social and environmental aspects and create spaces for all people.” Architecture student Raymond Sova designed a spiraling three-tiered solar-powered lighthouse and park using traditional Italian columns, stone work, and fountains. He considered the project “absolutely a valuable use of my time overseas,” even the challenge of finding a “compromise between the modern sustainable practices of today with the historic cultures of Italy’s extensive past.” In fact, the experience changed Sova’s view on sustainability. “This project changed my perspective on my personal commitment to sustainability because it gave me a whole new outlook on sustainable practices in an entirely different culture,” he says. “It showed me
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