Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.24
Liaison Rob Andrejewski
Submission Date March 4, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Richmond
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Rob Andrejewski
Director of Sustainability
Office for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:
Yes

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:

Sophomore Scholar in Residence (SSIR) Programs nearly always include at least one sustainability-focused opportunity. The SSIR program combines a traditional academic course with co-curricular learning activities throughout a student's entire sophomore year. Each community consists of a one-unit course in the fall semester and a half-unit group project in the spring semester, with various co-curricular experiences that enhance learning. Throughout the year, students are working on both individual and group capstone projects that they present to the University community each spring. SSIR students live together as a cohort in co-ed residence halls with other SSIR students of all communities, creating a unique academic community within the residence halls, so that students have opportunities to interact with students of differing communities, while having a shared experience. The communities are small, with only sixteen students participating per community, allowing for great discussions and strong group-bonding and friendships to be made.

Sustainability Focused SSRI Courses
Paradox of the Cultivated Wild (Sophomore Scholar in Residence Program). Inside the Classroom: Explore the variety of strategies employed by the NPS for caring for the environment, preserving history, revitalizing communities, and inviting stewardship; consider the unprecedented challenges the national parks face in the coming decades, such as climate change, budgetary restrictions, and the need to make the parks relevant to an increasingly diverse society through consideration of preservation of historical, cultural, and environmental resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. Outside the Classroom: Local field trips to National Park units and protected lands in Virginia will be used to develop initial impressions of the challenges confronting those who are working to enhance public engagement while reinforcing conservation. A fall break trip to the world's first national park, Yellowstone National Park, where students engage with diverse stakeholders to explore the complex and dynamic issues facing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Toxic Communities: Investigating Environmental Justice in the U.S. (Sophomore Scholar in Residence Program). Inside the Classroom: History of the environmental justice movement in the United States, including a review actual cases of environmental racism in the United States. Students examine the social and political factors that contribute to populations being disproportionately impacted by environmental pollutants. We investigate the negative impacts of lead exposure, persistent organic pollutants and particulate matter (primary component of air pollution) on human health. This course provides an overview of the field, discusses the general mechanisms of action of classical toxicants and environmental pollutants, explains how toxic chemicals interfere with essential biological processes and biological systems, and helps students understand how toxicants, or poisons, impact cells and living organisms as a whole. Outside the Classroom: Students apply concepts learned in the classroom to real-life experiences through experiential learning opportunities. We meet with experts in the fields of air and water quality, tour to a local water treatment plant, and visit the EPA Human Studies Facility to learn how government agencies are working to protect citizens from the dangers of environmental pollutants. We also travel to the Richmond City Health Department to learn more about their Lead Safe Richmond Program and meet with various members of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative. Trip possibilities for this course include Puerto Rico or New Orleans. Travel to Puerto Rico includes learning about ongoing efforts related to environmental justice, as Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017) have greatly contributed to the longstanding and widespread environmental contamination in Puerto Rico. Travel to Louisiana's Cancer Alley in Louisiana, a region along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that contains numerous industrial facilities, will focus on clusters of cancer cases in this region.

Endeavor Program: The Richmond Endeavor is the University of Richmond's premiere living-learning experience for first-year students. It is designed for students to create meaningful bonds and friendships with their fellow classmates, develop a relationship with a faculty member during their first year at Richmond, and connect their interests both inside and outside of the classroom. The program includes dedicated academic advising by a faculty mentor, participation in the popular Roadmap to Success pre-orientation program, opportunity to connect with and get advice from a dedicated peer-advisor, enrollment in linked courses in the fall and spring semester led by the same faculty mentor who is also your academic advisor, and cohousing as a cohort in Lora Robins Court residence hall, one of the largest residence halls for first-year students.

Sustainability-focused Endeavor Courses:
What's Hot in the City: The Earth is changing in unprecedented ways. This course introduces the characteristics and interrelationships of the Earth's climates, landforms, soils, and natural vegetation, with special emphasis on human relationships with their environment. The subject matter is particularly relevant to current social and scientific interest in global climate change and the spatial inequalities in environmental pollution and resources that benefit some communities and disadvantage others. The material is global in scale, though we will illustrate many of the concepts using local examples from campus and the city of Richmond. Short Course Description: URiver. Welcome to Richmond, the River City. Did you know that the James River is less than a half-mile from campus? Or that you can walk to the City’s popular James River Park in thirty minutes? This course will explore the connections between UR and the James. It will illustrate how campus is used as a living laboratory in many UR classes. We will physically follow the path of water onto campus, into the lake, under the Commons, into brand new campus Eco-corridor, and eventually out to the James River. We will then set-up a network of time-lapse cameras along this pathway to investigate the different types of movement (people, animals, and material) that make this transit in a 24-hr period. Following the short course, students continue to study together for the next two semesters. Fall - GEOG 250: Planet Earth: Wind, Water, Fire. Basic concepts of earth systems science and physical geography. Topics include: introduction to mapping, GIS and remote sensing; weather and climate; drought, floods, and environmental hydrology; earthquakes, volcanos, landforms and geomorphology; and the interactions of all of the above with humans and the earth’s biota. Climate change and the spatial inequalities in environmental pollution and resources are emphasized. Spring - IDST 190: What’s Hot in the City Seminar. How can society create and sustain thriving, equitable environments in modern cities? Students will hear firsthand from local environmental leaders and learn about recent environmental initiatives in Richmond like RVAH2O and RVAgreen 2050, the City’s ongoing effort to create an equity-centered climate action plan. Students will contribute to these initiatives by gathering new data to map distributions of temperature, air pollution, and water quality in the City as group projects.

Exploring the Cultural Landscape: In the short course, students use a participatory mapping exercise to discuss the cultural landscapes of their hometowns. Then, we will take a field trip to one of Richmond’s immigrant neighborhoods to read the cultural landscape and reflect on difference, resiliency, and place-making in a globalized world. Following the short course, students continue on with GEOG 210/GS 210: Geographic Dimensions of Global Development where they learn geographic concepts to facilitate interpretations of our relationship with the world and each other. Place, space, scale, landscape, distance, accessibility, networks, and human-environment interaction are just a few fundamental aspects of human geography investigated. The course engages global development from a sustainability perspective and utilize geographic tools and concepts to envision a sustainable future across the globe.

Study Abroad: Many opportunities for meaningful engagement in sustainability are available to students through the University of Richmond Study Abroad program. The International Education of Students (IES) program in Freiburg, southwest Germany offers a program titled “Environmental Studies and Sustainability.” Also, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark, offers a multitude of hands-on sustainability options. Additionally, the School for International Training (SIT), the School for Field Studies, and the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) provide field experiences in locations such as Australia, Madagascar, and the Caribbean.


Website URL where information about the institution’s immersive education programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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