Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fall Syllabus

Introduction.
For the past year, the Vermont Commons Co-op has been working to lower the energy consumption of the school community. We have enjoyed a fair amount of success by lowering the electricity consumption of the school by over 10% and creating a carbon sequestration project. This year we will continue our mission by expanding our work in the following areas:

  1. Build on the success of the year by continuing to perform the energy and ecological accounting at the school.
  2. Develop our own sustainable energy sources by ourselves or in partnership with other business and organizations and our own families.
  3. Improve our ecological restoration projects by developing more sophisticated ways of creating bio-diverse carbon sinks.

Responsibilities.
Students taking this class will be divided into four groups that will be responsible for creating and implementing a program to further the goals in one of these areas:

Energy and Ecological Accounting (Kyler Robinson & Joe Trask)
Sustainable Energy/ Solar Panels (Amber Romero & Andrew Jaffe)
Ecological Restoration/ Carbon Sequestration (Frances Russell & Michael Kidder)
Marketing (Griffen Fargo, Kate Costello, & Joey Wiles)

Since communication with the outside world is also a very important part of this project, students will have to complete several updates and articles on the on the Common’s Co-op Blog www.commonscoop.blogspot.com.

Finally, each group will need to write a grant and submit it to an appropriate foundation or agency that will support our work. Students will be expected to work independently in an organized manner.

Opportunities.
This fall the Commons Co-op will be meeting with Middlebury College’s Sustainable Energy Group to work on projects of mutual interest. In addition, Nancy Jack Todd will be working with us our carbon sequestration project with the goal of creating a Costa Rican carbon sink for the school and the entire region. This is a very exciting possibility and Nancy will be a great source of information. In addition, Cara Simone Bader will be joining us in our efforts as a grant writer and editor of the blog. We are very lucky to have her in this group.

Reading.
Students will be required to read the following books during the semester:

Wackernagel, Mathis, and Rees, William. Our Ecological Footprint. New York: New
Society Publishers, 1995.
Brower, Michael, and Leon, Warren. The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. New York: Three
Rivers Press, 1999.

Since the work of this class is heavily dependent on the concepts in this reading, it will be very clear to the instructors if students have not done the reading. I reserve the right to give pop quizzes on any part of the assigned reading.

Grading Policy.
Section Project= 40%. This part of your grade will consist of creating an action plan for your section. Implementing a strategy to make it successful and writing a grant to fund your part of the project. Students will be penalized for coming to class later and not working on task.
Quizzes and Homework= 30%. This consists of reading the books and making sure that the action plan you come up with makes progress every week.
Articles for the Blog= 30% Students are expected to write four articles every quarter for the blog during the course of the semester. The grade level of the student will determine the length of the articles. 7th and 8th Graders will write a two-page article, 9th and 10th Graders will write a 3 page article and 11th and 12 Graders will be responsible for section reports.
The Semester grade =(Quarter1x40%) +(Quarter2x40%) +(Presentation x20%)

At the end of the semester students will give a presentation to the school on their part of the Commons Co-op. Each student will be in charge of a discreet part of the presentation.

Final Words.

This project is a great opportunity for you to contribute to improve the environment of the planet and building a significant line on your resume for college.

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