Ohio University Lancaster's first meeting of the Kanawha Environmental Education Project for this academic year was held on Tuesday.KEEP, as it is also called, is a voluntary collection of faculty, staff, and students across Ohio University's campuses who work to promote environmental and sustainability themes in existing curriculum at the university.
"The KEEP group has inspired conversations across disciplines at Ohio University Lancaster that have led to invited speakers, a roundtable on local sustainability, a grant-funded beekeeping workshopand an interdisciplinary class," said Matt Wanat, English professor. "The vegetable garden on campus is also a KEEP activity which started three years ago."
On the Lancaster Campus, KEEP has collaborated with the Cultural Events Committee, the Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and student organizations, and faculty have incorporated sustainability activities into a number of classes.
"I think that it is important, particularly on a regional campus, that higher education remain connected to the local, and one of the essential local connections is ecological," said Wanat. "An additional benefit of KEEP at Ohio University Lancaster has been the interdisciplinarity necessary to effectively discuss sustainability. Sustainability cannot be fully achieved in disciplinary isolation. Indeed, many a specialized solution has become some other specialization's problem. Because of the necessity of interdisciplinary discussion to sustainability, KEEP has gotten a lot of professors out of the office and into the rich environment of liberal arts."
Wanat hopes Ohio University Lancaster's KEEP group grows this year in faculty participation and student knowledge.
"I hope that KEEP activities inspire students to study broadly and deeply, to think critically about consequences and possibilities, to consider the effects of today's decisions on the places where they live and the future people who might live there," said Wanat. "And to see that the challenges that face us won't be solved with a single degree, but rather through the cooperation of multiple, well-educated people from within academia and from the communities in which we work and live."