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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pick your commute for One Less Car Day on Oct. 6

UF is challenging students, faculty and staff to give up their cars and use alternative transportation throughout the fall semester and especially on Wednesday, October 6, One Less Car Day, with the hope that it becomes a habit.

As part of the One Less Car Challenge, a celebration for participants will be held from 11 AM to 1 PM on October 6 on the Reitz Union North Lawn (or the Colonnade should it rain). The event will include free cupcakes for decorating, prize drawings and giveaways, and various games where attendees can have fun while learning the benefits of alternative modes.

Tickets to the Women’s Volleyball match against Tennessee—this season’s green game—will be distributed to the first 200 staff and faculty attendees, compliments of the University Athletic Association. Office of Sustainability Director Anna Prizzia and Student Body President Ashton Charles will also speak and honor those who have committed to alternative transportation through the challenge.

In the evening, Chipotle Mexican Grill on University Avenue will offer free burritos from 5 PM to 7 PM to anyone wearing a One Less Car t-shirt or button and RUB Entertainment will host an Alternative Transportation Forum from 8 PM to 10 PM in the Orange and Brew. The public is invited to join City Commissioner Randy Wells and Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon to discuss energy conservation and alternative transportation in Gainesville.

The One Less Car Challenge runs through November 19, with various mini-challenges and prize opportunities along the way. For more information, visit or follow One Less Car on Facebook.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Curriculum Development: First Annual Prairie Project Workshop Held

While most of campus was on summer vacation, a small group of dedicated faculty participated in UF's first annual Prairie Project Workshop. The two-day event drew together 28 faculty from diverse fields across the university (and Santa Fe College) to learn about environmental issues and sustainability. Based on a national program started at Emory University, and endorsed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the program was designed to provide the foundation for the development of new courses or course materials and to build a skill set for leaders in the effort to infuse sustainability concepts into university curricula.

During the two-day workshop a professional facilitator led discussions about sustainability, environmental issues, the local Florida/Alachua County ecosystem, and the political, economic, social, philosophical, and ethical dimensions of these issues. Local resource experts provided information on local ecology, public health, environmental justice, and an overview of campus environmental efforts. The lectures, discussions, outdoor time, and workshop materials highlighted connections among these issues, the campus, and broader national and international issues of sustainability.

At the conclusion of the workshop, each participant was asked to develop a work plan and become a sustainability resource person within their college. Throughout the school year, Prairie Project fellows will attend follow-up meetings to report on their progress and share their experience integrating sustainability into the curriculum at UF.

Faces of Sustainability - New Student Programs

The Division of Student Affairs as a part of the University of Florida is dedicated to creating and supporting a sustainable UF. As part of an educational institution we believe it is our responsibility to not only be good stewards of the environment in our day to day work, but to also help educate our students and community about sustainability and the important role they have in creating not only a more sustainable UF but also a more sustainable world. "We are in a unique position when it comes to reaching the student audience, and while we work hard to be more sustainable internally, it is a key focus of ours to spread the message and create the experience of sustainability for students," said Jaime Gresly, Assistant Dean and Director of New Student Programs.

As a member of the Division of Student Affairs, New Student Programs is committed to exemplifying these values and behaviors in their facilities, programming and daily work. These efforts come in many forms, from printing double sided to using compostable plates as well as reusable plates, cups and silverware when possible at large events. This year's preview staffers received a specific presentation on sustainability so they can inform incoming students and their families about the various efforts and opportunities that exist at UF, and the selection for the 2010 Common Reading Program (CRP) similarly reflects a commitment to provoking thought and passion around sustainability. In addition to bringing the CRP book author - William Kamkwamba - to campus, other speakers in their Featured Speaker Series focus on topics of social and environmental sustainability. "It is our hope that the students who interact with our staff, utilize our facilities and engage in programs will not only learn about how we incorporate sustainable practices in our daily operations but in turn will learn how they can incorporate sustainable practices too!"