2009: A Green Odyssey

CONWAY, Ark. (Aug. 3, 2009) -- Hendrix College is helping its students study green, without spending much of their own. The Committee on Experiential Learning has allotted tens of thousands of dollars this year to support Odyssey projects about sustainability and environmental issues.

Twenty-two students have traveled the world on eco-Odyssey trips, studying successful sustainability efforts and conducting research that could contribute to our understanding of climate change. Here’s a sampling:

  • Cameron Crane worked with Dr. Courtney Hatch, assistant professor of chemistry at Hendrix, to research the impact of mineral dust deposition on ocean bioproductivity. The dust may influence the marine food chain, and therefore Earth’s climate.
  • Leanne Mathurin spent months assessing water quality at Lake Brewer, the water source for the city of Conway. The lake’s watershed includes shale oil drilling sites, which has raised concerns about contamination from drilling chemicals. She found no evidence of pollution.
  • Brendan Moore and Meredith Strong studied the way residents and politicians of Homer, Alaska, have reacted to recent climate changes. The mayor of the coastal fishing town, which depends on strong salmon and halibut harvests, has made combating global warming a top priority.
  • Melanie Morse and Lilly Stewart followed in Gandhi’s footsteps, volunteering with organizations across southeastern India. The groups have created small, environmentally sustainable communities through Gandhian principles and an emphasis on personal dignity for the poor.
  • Dmitriy Nurullayev returned to his native Uzbekistan to teach a four-week camp for Uzbek high school students. The students learned about global warming, particularly the impact of declining water levels on the country’s agrarian economy. Each received four trees to plant in his or her neighborhood.
  • Ben Samuelson studied dozens of ecologically constructed homes in California. By visiting construction sites at varying stages of completion, he learned how to install rain collection and filtration systems, greywater systems, composting toilets, solar water heaters, energy-efficient awnings and soy-based insulation
  • Matt Youngblood lived and worked on an organic farm in the rural village of La Rinconada, Argentina. The farmers use compost, rather than petrochemicals, to fertilize their fields. They also utilize management-intensive grazing techniques to carefully rotate crops and animals.

Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning” is a major component of the Hendrix curriculum. The philosophy is, “You learn more when you do more.” Each student is required to complete three Odyssey experiences selected from six categories: artistic creativity, global awareness, professional and leadership development, service to the world, undergraduate research, and special projects.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is among 165 colleges featured in the 2009 edition of the Princeton Review America’s Best Value Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.

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