While many professors hope their courses will transform their students, Doug Graber Neufeld and Jim Yoder, both associate professors of biology at Eastern Mennonite University, have even higher goals. They hope their students can transform their campus.

During the 2007-2008 school year, Graber Neufeld and Yoder offered a course entitled “Green Design,” using the planned addition and renovation of Suter Science Center as an opportunity for hands-on learning. Students studied the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEEDTM (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system and researched green building strategies in areas such as water usage, energy efficiency and recycled materials. Fifty percent of the grade for the course came from a semester-long research project culminating in recommendations for the new Science Center.

Students met with members of the EMU administration and with Troyer Group, the architectural firm that is designing the science building. They visited a living machine that processes wastewater in Charlottesville, VA, and a local hospital that is a registered LEED project.

Below is an excerpt from Neufeld’s and Yoder’s syllabus:

Your job in this course is to help us decide what green technologies will be incorporated in the new science center. The overall goal of the course is broad: How can a building be successfully designed that is environmentally friendly and that serves the functional and aesthetic needs of the people that use it? Our route to that goal passes through the new science center–we will use this as a case study that drives our learning…

…This course is as much about learning process as it is about learning technology. You will be learning about science, but also about economics, about education, and about how to resolve competing demands and differing opinions about a project. We will spend significant time in conversation with representatives from all of the stakeholders for this project.

@ @For more information, visit Eastern Mennonite University’s “Be Green” page at http://www.emu.edu/begreen/ Dr. Doug Graber Neufeld can be reached at neufeldd@emu.edu. Dr. Jim Yoder can be reached at yoderjm@emu.edu.

Action Step: Design a course based on an environmental challenge that faces your campus.