Most campus sustainability programs end with individual action, but St. Olaf’s SustainAbilities
goes the extra step, helping students to practice the systems thinking that allows for institutional action as well. By getting to know the St. Olaf campus and the staff who make it work so well, students learn how one particular institution converts ideals to action.
SustainAbilities also helps students to understand how the basic institutions of American life promote sustainability in their activity as well. Alumni and speakers will tell stories about the ways that businesses, churches, schools, and community organizations are working to sustain the planet by sustaining practices that protect biodiversity, reduce carbon (and often costs too), and enhance human communities as well. They’ll talk about skills you might need to be catalysts of social change, including the ability to see how the good life might be better, the ability to talk to others when you have ideas and ideals to share, the ability to understand different points of view, and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Complementing your in-class education, you’ll also practice the ability to synthesize information to make persuasive arguments, and the ability to organize or to get involved in organizations that support your values.