Professor, students attend AASHE conference, discuss sustainable design

(Photo by Adrienne Schwarte)
Students Shelby See and Laura Greeley attended a conference on sustainable design in Los Angeles, Calif.

Oct. 14-17, Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of design at Maryville College, along with seniors Laura Greely and Shelby See, attended the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) annual conference in Los Angeles, Calif. Schwarte, Greeley and See presented a paper entitled, “Connecting Visual Art/Design and Environmental Studies Courses to Develop Integrated Solutions to Sustainability-Focused Campus Projects: A Service-Learning Model.”

Schwarte wrote the paper in collaboration with Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of environmental studies program. The 30-minute session, led by Schwarte, included a brief presentation of the paper, along with reflections given by both Greeley and See. Greeley and See worked as design consultants in O’Gorman’s environmental politics class.

Greeley, an art history major, and See, a design major, both committed 30 hours worth of design work between the four projects that were included in O’Gorman’s class. Schwarte also presented the conference with the framework for how Greeley and See worked with O’Gorman’s class. Schwarte and O’Gorman developed a problem-based, service-learning model, which assesses potential problems on campus and how to fix them.

“I wanted to participate in this pilot program, because I think it’s important for students to get involved on campus especially in relationship to sustainability,” See said. “I also love working with Adrienne on different projects outside the classroom for the real world experience.”

See said she also found the conference inspirational, because there were “so many aspects of sustainability.” Along with the presentation, Greeley and See were also able to attend a student summit.

“It was nice to chat with other universities to find out what programs they’re engaged in and what works for them,” See said. A few of the keynote sessions that they attended discussed subjects related to student involvement, as well as how the classroom could be moving online.

Greeley and See were also able to take part in a community service project while at the conference. “This year we planted trees at the community college,” See said. “It was a great experience, and I can’t wait to go back next year.”

Schwarte also did a presentation on the importance of social justice in design. “The core thematic reference of the conference was connecting art culture and social justice,” Schwarte said. See said that the session on social justice was the “best lecture she had ever heard.”

“The idea that our attitude should be sustainability first, before we try to save the planet, really stuck out to me,” See said. See was also able to experience the Los Angeles atmosphere.

“L.A. was simply breathtaking,” See said. “We got to see Hollywood, sunset strip, all over downtown and the Getty museum. The AASHE conference will be held in Nashville next year. “I hope to get more students involved in this area of design,” Schwarte said. “I hope that next year I can have even more students presenting in Nashville.”

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