Learning and living sustainability

SEEDS and Sustainable by Design, CU’s two newest Residential Academic Programs, feature an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability and innovative problem-solving.   

In addition to the learning opportunities offered by the LEED Platinum design of the residence hall itself, students take part in RAP courses and activities aimed at designing self-sustaining solutions to critical social and environmental issues, ranging from fracking to food shortages to campus and community concerns.

Social Entrepreneurship for Equitable Development & Sustainability (SEEDS) and Sustainable by Design (SbD) began in fall 2011. Students in the first year—who came from arts and sciences, engineering, environmental studies and business—found themselves working with socially conscious entrepreneurial ideas and putting them into practice.

"This experience is devoted to those who would like to make a difference. It’s like a leadership experience.  It is innovatively thinking rather than textbook thinking, " said Mario Gjurekovec, an engineering student in SbD.

Taking on real issues, they discovered, requires building a community of peers—through group work, in classes and on field trips—and then reaching out to communities, learning hands-on through active problem solving. As English major Joseph Lee notes, the RAP living experience is unique, with “the culture in the dorm being an incubator for complex ideas and discussion as opposed to a typical dorm.” 

Business student Lauren Potter agrees. “I also really appreciated the environment as a whole, working with peers going through the same thing, working on it together, finding the steps we need to take, while following the framework laid out by our professor,” she says.

Both Lauren and Joseph see the RAP courses as changing the way they view the world. Lauren claims the fall course titled Social Innovation and Design for Sustainable Communities “completely re-engineered how I learn.  And now, in the second-semester course, Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability, I am taking it on and being a social entrepreneur, taking risks in the context of potentially failing at the project. But now I find that is all right, because bumps mean coming up with something new.”

And according to Joseph, “I’ve been opened to other issues along with the environmental. What’s been interesting is approaching problems with a sustainability mindset, such as addressing poverty without impacting the environment. The RAP has brought a lot to my (English) major which has been interesting, opening my mind to a larger scale.” 

“I want to go out and listen to people," says Lauren, "to interact with people as they are coming up with some real solutions to today’s problems. I’m a fan of learning by trial, figuring stuff out, and the process gets you a group of people who are motivated and ready to do something.”

Incoming CU students can make your reservation with either SEEDS or SbD RAP on the Housing & Dining Services website.