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Learning, working and living sustainably

Students to work with local sustainable producers in Germany this summer
April 16, 2013
By Lesley De Marinis

Six Concordia students will participate in a pilot project this summer that will provide them with first-hand sustainability training in Vogelsberg, Germany.

The project will have the Concordia students pair up with students from the Technical University of Fulda for two courses - Local Sustainability and Community Building in Germany (LOYC 398D) and Field Work in Germany (LOYC 398I). Students will learn about the history of sustainability as well as working with small-scale sustainable businesses.

Next summer, the six German students will visit Canada to work with sustainable initiatives in Montreal.

Photo by Concordia University

The project was created by Rosemarie Schade, an associate professor of history and principal of the Loyola College of Diversity and Sustainability. “These kinds of things were available to me as someone who lived in this town but I was thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful to introduce this to some of my students in the sustainability program because they’re thinking about these kinds of issues a lot now,” Schade says. “The idea behind it, too, was to expose our students to that culture and then let’s expose their students to what we do.

“We have managed to negotiate internships with three small-scale producers. We were looking for small-scale, local, sustainable producers who were willing to show how they do what they do to the students.”

The producers include a Demeter farm (an organic form of self-sustaining agriculture) that sells vegetables and dairy locally, a producer of water and wind power, and a producer of rainwater-catching systems.

The Concordia students, who will live with host families in Germany from June 28 to August 24, will receive six academic credits and will be graded on their participation.

Sean-Anthony Di Paolo, a biology student with a minor in sustainability, was selected to participate in the pilot project. “I’m interested in doing hands-on work and sustainability is something that I see coming up in the future that is really, really strong,” says Di Paolo. “Living in Canada, there’s only so much I can see, and I think going to Germany, or any foreign country, and seeing what they’re doing, will kind of have this great contrast.”

Schade says the pilot project has multiple benefits. “It will be academically rigorous but at the same time it’s going to have an experiential learning component in the sense that they are going to be learning very practical things, whether it be how to farm, or how to set up an energy producing outfit, she says. “I think that’s a useful way to approach learning because learning doesn’t always take place in a classroom, and I think it’s a form of learning that is really part of our tradition of trying to provide the best type of student experience.”

Read related Earth Day articles.

Related links:
•    Loyola College of Diversity and Sustainability
•    Rosemarie Schade’s faculty profile page

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