Russ McClain, director of the Center for Sustainability Studies and coordinator of the sustainability studies and environmental science academic curricula of Davis & Elkins College, was awarded a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellowship from the Appalachian College Association to attend an international conference in Austria this summer regarding global change.
The theme for this season's conference is "A Climate for Change: New Thinking on Governance for Sustainability," and McClain plans to use the experience to increase the scope of sustainability studies at D&E.
"I hope to broaden our students' sustainability horizons beyond the local and regional community," McClain said in commenting on the fellowship. "We regularly discuss issues of global sustainability, and provide outlets for exposure to these issues through student involvement with international conservation and refugee aid organizations. But we'd like to increase connections to international opportunities for exploration of topics in sustainability. This is where the Salzburg Seminar will be of assistance."
Participating in the conference is a perfect opportunity for McClain, who has been involved in sustainability at D&E since joining the faculty in 2004.
"The college recognized the need for a concerted, coordinated effort on the topics of sustainable economic development, healthy communities and environmental conservation and established the Center for Sustainability Studies and the B.A. program in sustainability studies. The goal of the program is to prepare students for positions of leadership in sustainable development and studies, through hands-on learning, internships, and community service and outreach."
"My experience with the Salzburg Seminar should result in exciting discussions at the college, one where students reach out geographically - taking our 'classroom to community approach' to learning outside the U.S. Students have already begun this discussion through forums on sustainability issues of national importance where they were quick to note our issues are also global issues. Concerns about resource use, real value of resources, and comparisons of global indices of health, lifestyle and life satisfactions, have all immediately been connected to ideas of international experience."
As part of the fellowship award, McClain will also oversee a mini-grant that he plans to use for promoting campus-wide forums as well as use in his sustainability courses.
"We may create another student-led project of similar approach to our current community garden outreach, where the students have organized, led and reported on outcomes," he said. "This spring I already had students asking about how best to start this process, making the Salzburg opportunity all the more exciting."
The Salzburg Global Seminar is an international institution focused on global change-a place dedicated to candid dialogue, fresh thinking and the search for innovative but practical solutions. Founded in 1947, it challenges current and future leaders to develop creative ideas for solving global problems, and has brought more than 26,000 participants from 150 countries and regions to take part in its programs.