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Suggested Activities for University Seminar Classes

Adapted from Instructor's Guide for No Impact Man

Suggested In-Class Activities for University Seminar:

  1. Class discussions — see reflection topics in Intructor's Guide
  2. Aquarena Springs glass-bottom boat tour
  3. Trip to Freeman Ranch
  4. Assign two students each week to bring a sustainability theme-related article from any major newspaper (available online) and share it with the class
  5. No Impact Week class discussions
  6. Have a "local eating potluck"
  7. Invite students from the Bike Cave to class
  8. Use calculators to tally the class’s total carbon footprint or water usage and discuss ways the class can reduce
  9. Discuss incentives that the federal government could realistically offer energy companies to move to renewable energy

40 Out-of-Class Assignments for University Seminar:

  1. 4Cs: ask your class to plan and implement a project or marketing campaign that would Create Campus Culture Change. (Keep it simple. Perhaps launch a campaign on a single issue, such as the use of plastic grocery store bags.)
  2. Participate in No Impact Week
  3. Journal for each day of No Impact Week
  4. Beavan’s methods are not suitable or even possible for everyone. Choose a way to lead a more sustainable lifestyle and adapt it in your own way.
  5. Volunteer at a San Marcos River cleanup.
  6. Volunteer at a Spring Break beach cleanup.
  7. Participate in Earth Day activities.
  8. Suggest sustainable projects for Bobcat Build.
  9. Participate in Texas Recycles Day.
  10. Participate in Groundwater Festival at Aquarena Center — a free day of learning about the importance of groundwater.
  11. Participate in San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance events. The Greenbelt Alliance is a community group that protects the natural areas of San Marcos.
  12. Writing Prompt: comment on the Austin Chronicle’s article "Green Guilt." The article proposes that guilt is a reason why so many Americans are interested in going green.
  13. Organize a Texas beach cleanup for spring break.
  14. Energy use/water use—sponsor reduction contests.
  15. Plan a campus "black out": everyone stops using energy for one hour simultaneously.
  16. Don’t buy anything new for a month. Report to the class.
  17. Choose a related topic and write a class letter to your congressman stating your opinion. Pay a personal visit to your congressman.
  18. Interview students who don’t have cars. How do they make it?
  19. Find out how the garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean got there and report to the class.
  20. Petition Associated Student Government to implement a “borrow a bike” program for the campus.
  21. Writing Prompt: Comment on the Austin American-Statesman’s opinions article "The dramatic decline of honeybees poses a serious threat to the planet."
  22. Writing Prompt: comment on the Austin American Statesman’s article "How green can we get?" (pdf)
  23. Writing prompt: As a result of reading No Impact Man, how have you been inspired? If you are not inspired, why? (Be specific.)
  24. Keep a log of everything you throw away for one week and share it with the class.
  25. Choose three ways you will live more eco-friendly this semester and report to the class at the end.
  26. Choose any statistic from the “Notes” section (pp 245-255). Research & expand upon it. Report to the class.
  27. Research Germany’s system of "extended producer responsibility" and share with the class.
  28. Live without television for a week (this means you can’t record your favorite shows and watch them next week — that would be cheating). Report to the class on your experience.
  29. Give up your car for a week and report back to the class.
  30. Find out how landfills work and report back to the class.
  31. Research alternatives to landfills.
  32. Find out what the Edwards Aquifer is and explain "recharge zone."
  33. Research how recycling works. How do we keep up? Do we keep up? Where does it go? What is the cost?
  34. Report on the costs of solar power.
  35. Work out (using one of the elliptical machines at the Rec that have been fitted with kinetic energy converters) half an hour for every hour of power you use on your laptop. This makes your laptop have zero impact.
  36. Create a list of all the places to buy groceries that come from less than 200 miles away.
  37. Founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and forest environmentalist Wangari Maathai will be visiting Texas State on October 4th as part of the Common Experience. Video: click here
  38. Comment on if fossil fuels are more cost efficient than renewable energy. Agree? Disagree? Why?
  39. Ask students to find a partner and assign each pair a "Worst Enemy" of the planet (according to Rolling Stone, 1.21.2010). Each pair will research the "Enemy" and present both sides of the "Enemy's" story to the class.
  40. Writing prompt: Beavan mentions "engaged citizenship" in the epilogue. What does "engaged citizenship" mean to you?

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