Meet Dr. Christina Jarvis ....
Dr. Jarvis is a professor in the English department. Her research and teaching interests include 20th-Century American literature, gender studies, war and popular culture, American Studies, contemporary sustainability issues, feminist theory and family studies.
What contributions are you making to help SUNY Fredonia become more sustainable?
As co-chair of the Academics Sustainability Subcommittee, I’ve helped develop and propose a new Environmental Studies minor, which was approved by University Senate in February. I’m also chairing the campus committee charged with implementing the “Fredonia as a Sustainable Community” portion of SUNY Fredonia’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. As a committee we’ve developed metrics and goals in the areas of energy, education, land use/stewardship, food, water, waste/recycling, building/facilities, and purchasing, operations and investment.
What kinds of sustainability related research /projects do you pursue at Fredonia?
As Community Projects Coordinator for the FACE Center, I organize a lot of campus and community sustainability events. I’ve organized numerous beach cleanups, tree-planting events, CFL giveaways, campus and community environmental film festivals, park cleanups, local food tastings, panel discussions, nature walks, and scholarly presentations. While the primary goal of most of these events has been to educate people about specific sustainability topics, there have been some pretty big positive environmental impacts. For example, the 7000 free CFLs we’ve given away will collectively result in preventing approximately 1, 679, 335 tons of CO2 emissions and saving consumers $333,200 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulbs.
Are students involved in your work or if not is it something you would be interested in including in the future?
Although I work with community partners and campus colleagues on the organizational aspects of these events, student participation is vital to the success of these projects. While many of the events rely on student and community volunteers, sometimes I build sustainability service learning projects into my classes. For example, my “Environmental Literature” students have planted dozens of trees at Greystone Nature Preserve and my “Writing, Sustainability and Social Change” students have written grants for the Rural Ministry’s Gleaning Project and have published press releases, editorials and blogs about sustainability issues and events.
What do you do in your personal life to become more sustainable?
I embrace the five Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Restore), which means I try to be pretty mindful about personal consumption on a daily basis. Because of this mindset and avid composting and recycling, our household generates little waste. We’re also committed to making energy-saving and environmentally sound home improvements such as installing Pella windows and a tankless hot water heater. I also try to make sustainable food choices. We’re pretty lucky to have so many sources of local organic foods, so I’m able to get most of my vegetables, meats, dairy products, and summer fruits locally. Although I’ve always paid a renewable surcharge for all my electricity bills, more recently I’ve made a commitment to purchasing travel carbon offsets that invest in renewable energy, doing more socially responsible investing, and making international micro-loans through Kiva.
How do you think SUNY Fredonia can improve its sustainable efforts?
We’ve made a lot of progress since the Sustainability Committee formed in January 2007, but we’ve still got a long way to go. I’d love to see campus-wide composting, more renewable energy construction and investment (i.e., wind turbines and solar panels on campus), campus and community gardens, reduced car usage, and the radical reduction of disposable plastics—especially disposable plastic water bottles. I still think we need to do more to educate people about sustainability issues—whether through events or classes—and to encourage broader participation in campus sustainability actions and decisions. I hope more people will consider joining sustainability subcommittees and getting involved in sustainability initiatives.