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Sustainability Council Interns Focus on Expanding Sustainability in the Curriculum

By Students Naomy Garcia, Shoshana Heerter, Alice Hurst-MacDonald and Robyn Lipkowitz

The Sustainability Council Internship is a new opportunity for Salem State University students to make their voices heard in a collaborative setting while addressing concerns regarding campus sustainability. This year we have reviewed and provided feedback on the sustainability webpage, addressed sustainability concerns with Salem State's new food service, and have been conducting research into adding a sustainability component to the school’s curriculum in some capacity. We hope to continue this research into the next semester and future, eventually creating a curriculum proposal. 

There are four of us in the first cohort of sustainability council interns, working with Tara Gallagher, SSU sustainability coordinator, and receiving academic credit from professor Steven Silvern in the geography and sustainability department. For all of us, the opportunity to help improve sustainability programs at Salem State is providing real-world experience that will help us in our careers, regardless of what we go into because sustainability is widely applicable to the study of  the environment, economic growth, hunger, poverty, health, education, peace and justice.

Alice Hurst-MacDonald is a senior majoring in peace and conflict studies with a concentration in nature and a minor in sustainability. She is passionate about environmental justice and addressing global climate change. Alice notes, “This internship has been and continues to be a great opportunity to collaborate with other students who have similar values and goals to improve SSU’s sustainability.”

Shoshana Heerter is a junior at Salem State, majoring in environmental sustainability and obtaining a certificate in GIS. She intends to pursue a career in global water policy, inspired by her time spent living in water-scarce Israel. “The SSU Sustainability Internship has taught me about sustainability efforts at an institutional level, and what a holistic approach to sustainability looks like,” says Shoshana. “I have also enjoyed working with like-minded students who are  passionate about helping lead Salem State to a more sustainable future.”

Robyn Lipkowitz is in her last year at Salem State studying environmental sustainability and world languages and cultures with a concentration in Spanish. She is particularly interested in coastal management and sustainable community development, and hopes to work in the world of conservation after graduation. She says, “this internship has been a great opportunity for me to understand how to make sustainable changes in an institution from an administrative perspective. Connecting with similar individuals while building work experience has been extremely rewarding.” 

Naomy Garcia is currently in her last year at Salem State majoring in healthcare studies with a minor in human biology. She is excited to make a difference in peoples' lives through a career in healthcare. The internship has provided her with a new perspective on the parallels between healthcare and sustainability. “Sustainability is a topic that is worthy of the world's attention. It speaks to the wellbeing of our earth, environment and even our own bodies. If real change is the goal,  we need the participation of willing individuals who truly care about sustainability, The simple act of being mindful with our actions toward the environment could create a much better place for all of us now and for future generations as well,” says Naomy. “The internship has been a great opportunity to contribute to something much bigger than ourselves,”

This semester we have focused on elevating sustainability education on campus and integrating it into the core body of academic knowledge that all students will possess upon graduation. This process has involved researching sister schools, meeting with SSU’s registrar, Megan Miller, and professor Liz Duclos-Orsello, chair of the curriculum committee, in order to learn what the process of incorporating sustainability as a core educational component could look like at Salem State. Through our meetings, we have learned that it may be a lengthy process, but it will absolutely be worth it.

Tara Gallagher
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