Eco-minded students will now have an opportunity to get internships with the environmental organizations. They will also be able to get an out-of-sight view of the operations of UB this year, all thanks to the new Sustainability Academy by the university. The program that was unveiled this fall is one of the 5 Undergraduate academies, which enables the students who have the same interests to learn and live together at UB. Each of the academies host activities that are exclusive to its theme, which range from movie nights to seminars. For instance, the Entrepreneurship Academy during this fall co-hosts a boot camp for entrepreneurs, while the Civic Engagement Academy organizes events for service learning, which brings the students into Buffalo so as to work with organizations such as Buffalo Niagara River keeper.
In its initial year, the Sustainability Academy will place undergraduate students on internships with GrowWNY using the Western New York Environmental Alliance, host seminars that relate to the sustainability and facilitate the participation of students in a variety of projects such as a food garden planting during the next spring on the North Campus of UB. The partners play a crucial role in assisting to facilitate these activities and others like them, which include the Campus Dining & Shops and UB Office of Sustainability.
The members of the academy can reside in the residences including the Lehman Hall that the university has plans of installing dashboards for tracking, in real time, the amount of energy that the building is used. These devices will provide the residents with a means of monitoring their joint consumption and then compare it with the current and past usage. In the future, the technology will set off another opportunity for the students as the university has planned to give the students a chance to look at how the various facilities of UB, such as the Campus Dining & Shops run low-waste dining halls, operate out of sight.
The Academic Director of the program, Kenneth Shockley, said that the aim was to provide the students of Sustainability Academy with tools so that they can effectively reflect on the effect they are making on the campus and on their life. He also added that they intended to use the community and the university as a living laboratory, and they also wanted the students to see how they could live a more responsible life and how they may trend on the planet lightly.
The first class of the Sustainability Academy includes 48 freshmen who are majoring in diverse fields. Most of the students took part in the first event of the academy on the 21st of August where they headed out to Buffalo city to shovel, weed and make paths in the gardens of the community as a part of a day for service learning, which brought all the 5 undergraduate academies together. The event, which benefited the Food Bank of WNY and the Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo, was the first of many in this year that associates the Sustainability Academy with other organizations inside and outside UB.