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In each issue of the Sustainable Fredonia Newsletter, Fredonia faculty are interviewed
for a glimpse of their professional and personal lives and how sustainability plays
Meet Dr. Mike Jabot....
Interview with Michael Jabot
Q: What is your main focus with students?
A: I try to reshape education courses for future educators around sustainability. We try to model for future teachers how they can take these ideas and bring them into their own classrooms. I take the opportunity to point out issues around sustainability in the classroom.
Q: What courses do you teach at Fredonia?
A: Right now I teach the elementary science methods course and a course on issues and trends in science education.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I got my PhD at Syracuse University for science education and my undergraduate degree was from St. Bonaventure in engineering physics and education.
Q: Have you taught anywhere else besides Fredonia?
A: I taught high school science for fifteen years in central New York Before coming to Fredonia.
Q: When did you first get involved with sustainability at Fredonia?
A: I wasn’t always on the committee. A lot of the work that we were trying to do in science education focused towards sustainability with biodiversity and conservation and reconnecting kids with nature in classes. Then I joined the sustainability committee three years ago.
Q: What types of things do your students do to improve sustainability on campus or off campus?
A: We have done lots of things with the community. The education students work in the schools and the students have been involved with food gardens, world food day and also we inform them about water education. What I do for them is try to give students an opportunity to use what we have learned in class with students out in the schools. The students that I have the privilege of working with aim more to impact the community and schools that they work in, rather than Fredonia’s campus specifically, because it is in alliance with their goals of becoming teachers in the future.
Q: How do you feel about Fredonia’s growth regarding sustainability in the past years?
A: I think we have done some really great things. I think that we were ahead of the game as for as the SUNY energy initiative. We did some things that were unprompted by SUNY to become more sustainable in the years past that are now being required of SUNY schools. We changed all of our lights to improve efficiency in the past years before many of the other schools. Every campus kind of started off with a base line of where they wanted to improve, and our baseline was established after we already had done many conservation efforts. This is exciting for us as a school to have been inspired to do all of these great things and know that other campuses are trying to catch up with us. FSA has done great things around locally sourcing food and I think we are a leader in that and that’s really great.
Q: What are some things you would like to see Fredonia do in the future to further our sustainability efforts?
A: It isn’t so much a comment about the campus specifically, but I think we could do things around transportation. I know Sarah Laurie has been doing things with the car-pooling program and if we had people less willing to bring cars I think we would be modeling a better, more sustainable college campus. Transportation would be something to further improve in a direction of change.
We have been blessed with great leadership around sustainability at Fredonia. We are not perfect but I think that a lot of the things that people point out that we can do better are really simple solutions. The idea that lights are left on at night in empty rooms, those are the kinds of fixable things to make improvements upon.
Also, we are trying to integrate some ideas of sustainability into course work. I think that moving in that direction is great as far as educating students.
Q: Outside of working on campus do you do anything on your own regarding sustainability?
A: I work with lots of schools around the ideas of placed space education. I work with water education as well.
Q: Do you feel that our students are well informed about the importance of sustainability and the efforts that Fredonia has made to improve our campus?
A: I think that they are well informed about the issues around sustainability and why, as future teachers it is important to take these issues on. I think like lots of things on our campus though, some of the positive things go unnoticed. There are a lot of great things that don’t get recognized. For example the water fountains that refill water bottles; many people don’t recognize the impact that they have had. I think that the number on the machines that represents the number of plastic bottles it has saved goes unnoticed, which is supposed to have big impact on people. If we could come up with a visual to try and show what those numbers are equivalent to, I think that could have a really great impact.
A lot of the ideas around suitability come down to behavioral changes. If we could get people to live and adjust to the room temperatures being a few degrees cooler or using LED lights in rooms instead of regular light bulbs, it could have an improvement. It’s the little things that I think add up.
Q: where do you hope to see Fredonia in about 10 years?
A: I would hope that maybe some of the things that we do that aren’t as openly recognized might start to be acknowledged. I would love to have students either say they came here because of the great work we do around sustainability, or as they graduate leave saying wow, “I’m really happy that I made the decision to go here.” Fredonia is a great place. Ten years from now, I would love to have us less hidden from the great things that we do.
Q: What is the best part of your job working at Fredonia as professor, and being on the sustainability committee?
A: The best part of my job, by far, is the students. We have great students and incredible colleagues that are so passionate about the things that they do. Everyone has such different perspectives on learning and teaching, which is a great thing. It’s amazing to see things from different ways, to get better understandings and results around what you are trying to teach and learn.
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.