Fresno State's Beth Weinman on Creating Real Sustainability Projects in Higher Education
By Katrina Hagedorn
Image by David Prasad via Flickr
“This is a time of change…I think everywhere... uncertainty and change.” - Beth Weinman
Dr. Beth Weinman, faculty member in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Fresno State, knows how much the world is changing and how much need there is to build a sustainable workforce in order to address the shift towards greener infrastructure. She believes that in higher education this change can be navigated by strategically bringing together people across the university - administration, faculty, facilities and students - to see what can be done better.
Through SEI’s Energize Colleges program, Beth fosters collaborative relationships to institute the campus as a living lab model and provide sustainability-focused internships to university students at Fresno State. These internships are a part of a high impact practice for since students who participate in internships and other hands-on extracurricular engagement tend to perform better post-graduation. Beth believes that the Energize Colleges internships empower students to help the university, and provide something that the classroom cannot.
Having been hired to teach hydrology, Beth didn’t expect to end up where she is today. But upon seeing the need for partnered efforts in sustainability in higher education, she knew that something had to change. Beth believes that the Energize Colleges program can do great things to facilitate that change; specifically it can help bridge the gap between faculty and facilities through the involvement of students.
Beth’s vision for sustainability in higher education is to have students working on real projects that contribute to society. Students need foundational knowledge, but they also need career preparation. She said, “kids are so talented. They have so much to give - they can give so much, and so if they were actually working and involved in real projects while they were doing their learning… you could take education and use it to make huge differences in the world.” Beth is excited to see this vision realized, and she believes that the partnership with Energize Colleges has helped in making it happen.
For anyone interested in sustainability in higher education or who asked the same questions as Beth as to how to prepare the younger generation for sustainable careers, you too can get involved. Visit our Energize Colleges website to learn more about our university-focused program and our Climate Corps website to learn more about our post-graduation career-readiness Fellowship program. SEI is also excited to partner with EPIC-N, a higher education catalyst that brings together the greatest resources in academia — professors, students, laboratories, research libraries, existing curriculum — and creatively draws them together to tackle the biggest challenges in local communities.
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