International Educator - May/June 2012 - 50
raymond Sova, an architectural student at alfred State college, created this design for the port of Sorrento, Italy, as part of a class sustainability project there.
InternatIonal educator M AY + J U N E .1 2
that sustainability goes way beyond alternative energy sources and generation; it is about creating and designing communities that can become self-reliant, and can sustain itself indefinitely.” Revitalizing Sorrento’s Marina Piccola not only changed Sova’s personal perspective of sustainability, but he also now believes that all college students could benefit from learning about it. “Sustainability is incredibly important for college students to learn as a concept because it is something that all professions can relate to, and there is an incredibly high demand in today's modern economy for sustainable practices in all fields,” he says. “Since I have been an architecture student for all of my undergraduate career, I have become very accustomed to how the concept of sustainability relates to architecture; studying abroad showed me that sustainability can relate to not only the field of architecture, but to all fields and professions.”
Ecovillages are increasingly popular as destinations for education abroad programs, both in partnership with individual institutions like Madison College and Rancho Mastatal, but also through programs like Daniel Greenberg’s Living Routes. Steve Whitman began taking students from Plymouth State College in Massachusetts to ecovillages in Sweden in 2004, and he has helped develop short programs for Living
Routes. Williams has supervised students planting crops in Findhorn, Scotland; constructing a sandbag dome building in India, and studying permaculture in Australia. The courses provide three credits and run 10 to 21 days. Ecovillages are intentional communities that are on the cutting edge of appropriate technology to make our lives more sustainable, explains Whitman. “When students have to walk the walk, even for a short time, when they have to carry a budget of water for a shower—they have a totally different reverence for water.” When students return to the Plymouth State, they can choose to live in EcoHouse, where they implement projects to make the house more sustainable. Whitman visits all overseas sites ahead of time to make personal connections, develop curriculum, and select the most affordable options. For many Plymouth State students, these trips are their first venture outside the United States. He’s now working on a new project in Haiti with a focus on water conservation and reforestation; he expects to involve students in the program’s development. To Daniel Greenberg, ecovillages are living laboratories for a sustainable future. Students at Living Routes ecovillages may study leadership for social change at an artist community in Mexico, biodioversity and spirituality in Peru, permaculture in Brazil, or photovoltaics in Israel.