Frey-Spurlock lands fellowship to pursue sustainability at SIUE

Professor Connie Frey-Spurlock landed the sustainability fellowship, the first among faculty at SIUE Photo Courtesy of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Marketing and Communications Department

Sociology professor Connie Frey-Spurlock was awarded the first sustainability fellowship at SIUE.

Frey-Spurlock will work across academic disciplines “to increase the awareness of sustainability among the faculty, foster the inclusion of sustainability into the curriculum and encourage original research and scholarly activity in fields related to sustainability,” according to the SIUE Sustainability website.

She started the three-year fellowship this fall and will present at conferences and produce publishable material based on her work.

According to Frey-Spurlock, there is much to learn about sustainability which focuses on the environment, social justice and economic equity.

“It’s a movement,” Frey-Spurlock said. “There is a lot to learn and relearn in terms of ecological terms, such as ‘limit’- there is a limited amount of water available. The earth cannot replenish itself–when that is even possible-at the same rate as humans consume natural resources.”

Frey-Spurlock said the sustainability fellowship allows her to do sustainability research and work with faculty members who want to incorporate sustainability into their curricula.

English professor Valerie Vogrin and Frey-Spurlock are working on an introduction to sustainability class for undergraduates.

A sociology student of Frey-Spurlock’s, Kevin Adkins, originally sparked her interest in sustainability when he wrote a paper in her Introduction to Sociology class.  Adkins’ background was in green building, which involves construction that uses materials and building methods considered eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious.

Adkins, now SIUE’s sustainability officer, said he thinks highly of his former professor, who is now a colleague and friend.

“I think she’s a great professor and I think she really cares about her students, and really cares [about] sustainability,” Adkins said.

Frey-Spurlock said she believes in the value of diversity-both human and ecological- and listening to people no matter where they come from, which is critical to sustainability.

“When someone is working from the perspective of sustainability, one recognizes that all stakeholders are experts in their own field – whether those stakeholders are professors or students. In other words, learning is democratic and egalitarian,” Frey-Spurlock said.

Frey-Spurlock said there is a finite amount of natural resources available.

She said people may think “we’re always going to have clean air, water, soil, etc. If we don’t change the way we live we’re not going to have them.”

Frey-Spurlock has been involved with campus groups, including the Student Organization for Sustainability and the Sustainability Advisory Group.

Sustainability efforts on campus have involved Leadership and Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings on campus such as Science Building West.

According to the SIUE Sustainability website, SIU Board of Trustees in 2006 stated in their Design Guidelines that “The building (new, addition or renovation) must be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certifiable, that is, designed in conjunction with the LEED point system so that the University, should it so choose, could have the building formally certified.”

According to Frey-Spurlock, LEED buildings have better overall quality in terms of energy efficiency and indoor air quality.

“They are constructed with local materials and materials that are environmentally friendly,” Frey-Spurlock said.

Adkins said he thinks the university has made progress since he became sustainability officer a few years ago.

“The university has come a long way but we’ve chipped the tip of the iceberg in institutional change,” Adkins said. “Sustainability is the most important issue at the end of the day.”

Click on to learn more about the sustainability movement on campus




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