One of the five core competencies we teach our students is collaboration (the other four, if you want to start studying, are systems thinking, future thinking, values thinking, and strategic thinking). The essence of this idea is that to understand or solve complex sustainability challenges, you need to be able to collaborate. No single person has the capacity or capability to tackle the really fundamental challenges we face. You will have to rely on others and actually learn the skill of collaborating.
Effective collaboration depends on a lot of factors, but building a sense of community and shared purpose is one key ingredient. The School of Sustainability is a wonderful incubator for building community, and for many of you it will start in the residences. The School of Sustainability Residential Community (SOSRC) is where many of you will begin building the collaborative networks that will help you succeed in classes, in university life, and in life after college. The SOSRC is located in Adelphi II, which recently underwent some renovations guided by sustainability principles developed with students (see photo above). This is a nurturing and supportive environment where you will learn how to work together to get things done. You will be surrounded by students from the same major who, like you, are looking for an education inside and outside the classroom that focuses on solutions. It is a wonderful community where you will quickly develop a sense of belonging.
The School of Sustainability provides a full-time staff member to be a resource for you in the residential community. This person helps you arrange special events (including dinners and lunches with the dean), pinpoint resources for projects (such as the SIRF I wrote about last week), organize outings on and around campus, design and deliver field trips, and in general make sure you get the most out of your experience in the SOSRC.
In previous posts I have written about the advantages of building community in a small college in a large research-intensive university. The SOSRC, as a small residential community within a small college, is a great way for you to develop that sense of belonging that we cherish in the School of Sustainability. Residential life is a beginning point in your development as a sustainability student, a great way to start learning the importance of collaboration to meet with confidence the challenges ahead of us.
Have a look at our residential life page and see how it can help you become part of the SOS team. I look forward to having dinner with you there this fall!