International Security and Conflict Resolution 310: Our Global Future, taught by Dr. David Larom, is a dynamic overview course of the resource and social crises that beleaguer the world, which range from overpopulation, urbanization and migration, to ecosystem services and biodiversity, to food and water security, to fossil fuels and Peak Oil, to waste, pollution and toxicity. The fall 2013 and spring 2014 students of Our Global Future participated in the Sage Project and its partnership with National City by conducting a two-week sustainability project in National City’s Kimball Park. Dr. Larom incorporated the project into the course for students to inventively and practically apply principles of sustainability—for example, recycling a former “waste” product of rainwater runoff from urban hardscapes—they conceptualized throughout the semester on the basis of interdisciplinary thinking.
The project, titled “Rainwater/Runoff Garden for A Avenue Project”, required the students to develop a rainwater collection and restoration scheme that could irrigate proposed gardens along A Avenue and in Kimball Park. The mission of the project was to reduce storm-water management costs and runoff, redevelop or restructure the park with a low-to-zero water bill, and turn Kimball Park into a shady and food-producing park that is watered mostly by rainwater, and that is drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, a practical contribution to material security, and a center for community building. The class divided into groups of 3 to 8 students; each group then created a PowerPoint presentation of a demarcated zone of the park that rendered various proposals of sustainable developments.
The overall purpose of this project was to generate a whole-systems approach to sustainability, namely to: 1) provide students with a real world project to investigate; 2) enable students to apply their training; and 3) provide real service and movement to a local city ready to transition into a sustainable future. Joint ventures typified by the Sage Project are not only beneficial to the community in question, but are also integral to redefining higher education for the public good and catalyzing broad community change towards sustainability.
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