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Senate recommends sustainable education

By | April 23, 2010 | News

At the Associated Student, Inc. (ASI) meeting Wednesday, the Senate made strides toward minimizing the burden of expensive textbooks and passed a resolution that will recommend incorporating sustainable education into Fresno State’s general education (GE) curriculum.

Sen. Selena Farnesi, who sits on the GE committee, presented the solution. She said that there has been much discussion regarding possible changes to GE because of an executive order.

After the Senate passed the resolution, it will move to the sustainability sub-committee. If it passes there, it will go to the GE committee.

The GE curriculum, which is already on their agenda for 2010-11 school year, would be re-written.

Farnesi said it will positively impact the school financially, while also allowing students to graduate sooner because Fresno State requires more general education than other California State University (CSU) campuses.

“It takes our students – especially high-impact and high-unit majors like engineering and nursing – longer to graduate because they are required to take more general education units than students at other schools,” Farnesi said to the Senate.

Cody Madsen, senator-at-large for residence, said the GE committee is already moving in the direction of adjusting GE requirements for the school, and that he sees expressing support for sustainable education to the committee, on behalf of the student body, as a positive development.

Sen. Brie Witt, who represents the Jordan College of Agricultural Science and Technology, favored the resolution like the other senators, but was also concerned about the actual development of the sustainable education curriculum, because there are some misconceptions about what “sustainable” means.

“Sustainability and going green often go against each other,” Witt said. “Organic farming in my opinion is unsustainable, because you can’t feed the world.”

Witt said while sustainability should always be strived for, Fresno State is in the breadbasket of the world and if the school intends to encourage sustainability, it should be done in a way that considers all angles of the discussion.

Farnesi said now that the resolution has passed, ASI can make recommendations to the committee before it makes the inevitable changes to GE curriculum.

The Senate Bill 1045 requires all textbooks offered on campus to be available online as an e-textbook. The e-textbook must be a full and complete version of the hard copy.

Farnesi has been organizing a textbook study to gauge how students acquire and use their textbooks. Among the studies included will be a survey of students who have used e-textbooks as a requirement for a math class, which will be reflected in a future Senate report.

Farnesi said she hopes to generate focus groups with the help of other senators that will provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of using traditional textbooks in order to find optimal solutions.

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