A new student instigated class on sustainability will be coming to Goshen College in the upcoming semester.

Sustainability has always been a vital part of Goshen College.

Last May, Goshen announced that it would voluntarily purchase all of its energy from renewable sources. The Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center earned the Platinum LEED certification, the highest ranking for green buildings, in 2007. Students have initiated projects such as the SunShower project, which harnesses solar energy to heat the shower water in the Roman-Gingerich Recreational Fitness Center.

This new course, entitled Sustainable Living Skills, will focus on various sustainable lifestyle skills. It will take place on campus and at Merry Lea, on Mar. 21, 22 and 23, and it is worth one credit.  Plans for the course include planting home gardens, bread baking and making eco-friendly home products. Various community and faculty members will teach different areas of the course.

Last fall, Rachel Smucker, a senior, dreamt up the course.

“I couldn’t believe a course like this didn’t already exist at Goshen,” she said.

After talking with Rachel Shenk from Rachel’s Bread, the course began to come together. Shenk and Smucker designed a course within the limitations given by Goshen College. Then, they got in contact with Lisa Zinn, assistant professor of sustainability and environmental education.

“I knew I was leaving for SST in the spring so I connected with Lisa Zinn at Merry Lea and she kind of took over the project for me when I left. She deserves all the credit for bringing this course to life. She worked really hard on writing out a more concrete syllabus, what goals would be accomplished, what knowledge people could walk away with, etc.,” Smucker said.

Zinn will be the professor running the course.

This year, Smucker, to add input for the class, put a panel of students together. The panel consisted of Sam Carlson a junior; Hannah Barg, a junior; and Karsten Hess, a senior. The group met with Zinn to decide details about the course.

This is only a trial run for the course, but if it is successful, the class will be offered again next year.

Goshen College offers other sustainability courses, such as Roots of the Environmental Crisis, or two full semester courses at Merry Lea--Sustainability Semester in Residence and Agroecology Summer Intensive. The college also offers a sustainability minor, which this class would count for.

Unfortunately, the registration is already full.

“It maxed out at our 15 person limit within the first day, according to Lisa. So she bumped up the limit to 21 and in the second day, it maxed out again. So unfortunately there's not enough room for the first trial, but if it's a success, the class will be offered again next year,” Smucker said.