The Green LearningCommunity and its Impact By: Alli Tadlock
About the GLCThe GLC is a small group of about 30 USC students.They live together on the same floor of West Quad C.This group was made for students who want to promote green living and create a more sustainable environment.
Why I chose this as my topic I am a member of the GLC this school year, and I have really enjoyed it. As I spent more and more time in this group, I began to question whether we were actually making an impact as a group. When talking with other students in the group, I felt they were wondering the same thing too. I decided this project would be the perfect opportunity to find out the answer to this.
ObservationsI completed two separate observations of the GLC.There are two classes for the GLC that meet each week.The GLC was only supposed to have one class, but not everyone could fit that time into their schedules.So, I observed both class times.
Observations cont. Both of my observations gave me the same results. Both classes showed how the students are really a tight knit group that gets along very well. The environment for both observations was very relaxed and fun. The main thing I noticed during both observations was how little time was spent discussing environmental topics.
Observations cont. Only about ten minutes of each class were devoted to these ideas. The rest of the class time was spent mostly on random conversations and just hanging out. This is a problem because the students are supposed to be learning and discussing new environmental concepts during class.
Three Cultural Themes I found three themes that are present in the GLC. They are: Appearance vs. Actuality Cooperation Education
Appearance vs. Actuality There is a big difference between what the GLC looks like from the outside and what actually happens. The brochure states that the main goals for the GLC are to teach the students how to live more sustainable lives and help the environment. These goals were one reason why I decided to join the group. Since being in the group, I have found that these goals are not being met.
Appearance vs. Actuality Cont.Only spending about five or ten minutes of class each week talking about environmental issues is not going to save the environment.If the group really wants to make these goals happen, there has to be some changes.
Cooperation All of the students in the GLC get along really well, and we have all become good friends. We went on a community building retreat at the beginning of the school year, and we had to do a lot of tasks that made us work together. I think this trip really made us bond with each other, and it showed we all work well together.
Cooperation cont.Since the members of the GLC work so well together, it shouldn’t be a problem to obtain the group’s goals.But there are some things standing in the way of the group doing this.Once we make the right changes to the group, we will work hard and cooperate to help the environment.
Education All of the students in the GLC joined because they wanted to learn ways to help the environment and live more sustainably. Learning new things helps us grow as people. Being part of this group is supposed to broaden our knowledge. The problem is, that isn’t really happening.
Education cont. One of the students I interviewed, Rachel, told me why she thinks this is happening. She said that “the students in the GLC have become unmotivated and lazy as the year has gone by.” She told me this is happening because the GLC lacks guidance. The only person that helps with the GLC is a graduate student.
Education cont. The graduate student was helpful at the beginning of the school year, but as time went by she stopped helping us for the most part. She leaves it up to us to plan activities and events, and this is part of the problem. We don’t know what to plan because she never told us how to do that. We tried to make events, but most of them fell through.
Education cont.After that happened, the students pretty much quit trying.Without the graduate student, we aren’t learning anything new.We need someone who cares about the group who will teach us because that is the only way we will learn.Learning new things is how we can make a difference.
Structure Another problem with the group is that it doesn’t have enough structure. This problem can be seen in our projects. Each student in the GLC has to complete a project each semester that the student puts 15 hours into. The only real guideline is that it has to be environmentally related. This seems like a great way for the students to work with environmental ideas, but that’s not what happens.
Structure cont. These projects are graded very easily, so the students aren’t putting any effort into them. There has to be a change in the way the projects are set up in order for the students to take it seriously. Another student from the GLC I interviewed, James, told me what he thought should be done. He said “students should have to complete an hour each week for their projects and keep a log of their hours.”
Structure cont. He thinks this would work a lot better, and the students would really earn the 15 hours this way. James also said that “the green learning community could be a strong force if everyone put in the correct amount of time because our combined hours could really make a difference.”
Conclusion I found out that the GLC is not making an impact as a group. This is caused by lack of guidance and weak structure of the group. These problems can be fixed with some planning and work by the students involved and some faculty members. Once this happens, the GLC can really make a great impact.