GOLD Jade certificate updated for practical applications

The Jade Leadership in Sustainability Certificate for the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program has a renewed focus, undertaking several changes in requirements. The Jade Certificate is meant to focus on the merits of sustainability and on the environment. Directors in the GOLD program coordinated with the Office of Sustainability over the past year to assess the Jade program as it existed.

“So there are the actual changes that manifest in terms of the workshops that are given and things like that, but I think the biggest change was more about creating an overarching goal for the program,” Director of Sustainability Dan DeZarn said.

According to DeZarn, this new goal for the program places more focus on “hands-on” components. One of the new requirements is for 10 hours of service in sustainability. DeZarn noted that this requirement will allow a variety of different interests to be met, allowing for a given session to function “more like a workshop as opposed to a mini-class, which is what I think these were before.”

In addition, the workshops required for Jade certification have been altered. “Following the Money: Economics and the Environment” and “Unpacking Portrayals of Sustainability” are two of the four required workshops.

Office of Sustainability intern and GOLD leader mentor senior Meghan Barrett coordinated many parts in the reworked system and she revealed some of the thinking behind the workshop alterations.

According to Barrett, “Following the Money” “[is] about supply and demand and the economics of environmental things … so if you are not sure why something isn’t happening, follow who has the money and you’ll figure it out.” “Following the Money” is instructed by Chris Annala and has not changed significantly since the switch.

According to both DeZarn and Barrett, participants were not always prepared to get the certificate under the old Jade program. “Opportunities in Current Environmental Issues” and “Reflection in Current Environmental Issues” are intended to allow students to become more acclimated to working with current issues regarding the environment.

“[OCEI] introduces some of the things and resources there are around Geneseo … with professors they can contact that might be interested in working with them,” Barrett said. RCEI focuses more on the evaluation of service and what that service means for the future. DeZarn runs OCEI and Office of Sustainability intern seniors Joshua Murphy and Joanna Ostroot lead RCEI.

The last of the four required workshops is “Unpacking Portrayals of Sustainability.” This is a new course and will look at how the media portray environmental issues. According to Barrett, these portrayals may include conflicting messages regarding issues such as fracking and recycling. Murphy and Ostroot direct this course as well.

The reworked programs display a wide range of topics in environmental fields. One class led by Barrett discusses eco-feminism, while another led by DeZarn takes a focused look at the environmental impact of fracking. Some others include “Building and Sustaining Organizations,” “Evaluating Agriculture’s Environmental Impact” and “Your Happiness and the Environment.” As with the other GOLD certifications, the Jade certificate necessitates completing eight workshops total, including the four required.

“You can talk about the historical origins of the current environmental crisis from now until the end of the semester and not cover everything,” Barrett said. “So how do we not overwhelm people, get them engaged, active and involved and structure it so it’s fun and people are learning applicable skills? All those sorts of things are what this new workshop structure is about.”