Warren Wilson College News

Davis Foundations grant to support new environmental curriculum

By: Ben Anderson
Warren Wilson College has been awarded a $193,265 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to develop a groundbreaking environmental curriculum, Advancing Environmental Literacy.

Using the concept of "full cost accounting," the Advancing Environmental Literacy project will provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary study of the broad implications of critical environmental concerns. The goal is to better understand issues within a framework of sustainability – a "full cost accounting" that considers the environmental, economic and social/cultural impacts of realities and remedies.

"We are excited to receive this generous support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations," Warren Wilson College President Sandy Pfeiffer said. "We think the grant will enable us to lead the way in advancing a timely new curriculum model that directly and broadly engages students in pressing environmental issues."

Environmental advocate Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature," says Advancing Environmental Literacy "puts Warren Wilson College at the leading edge of the curve in undergraduate environmental studies, as one of the few [colleges] to make economics a full-fledged part of the ecological discussion. I’m convinced that this is the next critical wave in environmental studies."

Guided by faculty from environmental studies and many other disciplines, the new curriculum also will foster engagement in effective problem solving, as students examine issues of sustainability within the context of Warren Wilson’s learning triad of academics, work and service. Each year, on a four-year rotation, Warren Wilson students will examine the effects of land-use practices, water, energy and then air quality both regionally and globally.

Community research projects will be essential to students’ study of regional environmental issues. Other program components will include an annual speaker series, a publication of findings, and summer internships allowing students to fully immerse themselves in the issues.

Institutions such as Furman University; Centre, LaGrange and Randolph-Macon colleges; and some University of North Carolina constituent schools will participate in workshops held by Warren Wilson that seek to proliferate the new curriculum model.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, located in Jacksonville, Fla., were established through the generosity of the late American industrialist Arthur Vining Davis. The purpose of the Foundations is to provide financial assistance, primarily in the areas of private higher education, secondary education, graduate theological education, health care and public television.

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