C&ES Professor Jack Kloppenburg loves to garden. But the new GreenHouse he has worked to build on campus will be growing citizens, not plants! Fall semester 2010 will see the inauguration of the GreenHouse, a residential learning community which takes sustainability as its constitutive theme.
Convinced that a residential learning community focused on sustainability would be a timely and pedagogically productive addition to campus life and learning, a group of faculty, staff, and students led by Kloppenburg have spent the last year developing a plan for its implementation.
The GreenHouse is being materially underwritten by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the College of Letters and Sciences. It is also affiliated with the Nelson Institute and the Division of International Studies. Kloppenburg will be Director of the program.
The GreenHouse will be located on two floors of Cole Hall and will welcome 46 freshmen in its first cohort. The GreenHouse will offer its residents the opportunity both to contemplate the meanings of sustainability and to actually enact sustainable practices with the guidance and active participation of faculty, fellow students, staff, and citizen mentors.
C&ES undergraduate major Ashley Lee has been a part of the initiative from the very beginning. She explains, “I became involved in planning the GreenHouse because I’ve heard and truly believe that the best way to predict the future is to help create it. This is the place for students who want to make a lasting impact on the campus community and the world.”
Cole Hall itself will be a key component of GreenHouse programming. Built in the 1960s with an almost Soviet institutional aesthetic, the dorm will offer students the challenge of making their own accommodations more sustainable. There are plans for residents to work with an Electrical Engineering professor to put solar collectors on the roof. A kitchen is being installed in the basement to make that space into a place where GreenHouse students can come together to create community by efficiently and pleasurably learning to cook meals for each other.
Attention to food will be a major feature of education about sustainability in the GreenHouse. Kloppenburg claims that “one of the most intimate ways that we’re engaged with the world around us is through the food we eat.” University Housing’s food service staff will offer training sessions for all GreenHouse residents on cooking techniques.
The GreenHouse Planning Committee has prepared programming that integrates in-class learning with out-of-class experiences in a framework that encourages undergraduates to explore what it means to be citizens as well as students. The core pedagogical component of GreenHouse programming will be a portfolio of 1 credit “GreenHouse Seminars” led by faculty and staff that offer students the chance to use their hearts, hands and heads to explore what it might mean to live sustainably or, as Kloppenburg defines the term, “peacefully with each other, within the means of nature.”
Visit the GreenHouse web site at http://www.housing.wisc.edu/greenhouse/