Student Greening Program

Sustainable Works wishes to thank City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment and Edison International for funding the Student Sustainability Workshops at Santa Monica College


What is a Student Sustainability Workshop?

The Student Sustainability Workshop is a unique, peer-to-peer educational program where students learn about important environmental issues and the ways that they can incorporate sustainable practices into their everyday lives, improve their quality of life, and save resources while saving money. Student also learn about careers in the emerging green economy and the paths they can take to pursue them.

Each Workshop is made up of a group of 20 students who meet once a week for 8 weeks. The Workshops are structured around the exploration of the issues and solutions related to 6 key topics: water, energy, waste, chemicals, transportation and shopping/food. Guided by the Workshop Leader and the program text, the Sustainable Worksbook, students learn about the local, regional, and global environmental impact of their daily choices and the solutions they can use to reduce that impact. In addition to the weekly Workshop meetings, students are given the opportunity to apply what they are learning about environmental stewardship by participating in a 3-hour community service project with a local non-profit or on-campus organization.

The Student Sustainability Workshop is a comprehensive program that provides educational, student leadership and community building opportunities to its participants while helping to shape the next generation of environmental leaders.

If you are interested in bringing the Student Sustainability Workshops to you college or university please visit our Services page for more details.

Who are the Workshop Leaders and what are their responsibilities?
Students who have completed the Sustainability Workshops during prior semesters can apply and be trained as Workshop Leaders, making this a truly peer-to-peer program. Student Workshop Leaders attend two 8-hour training sessions to learn how to successfully facilitate the Workshop meetings and fine-tune their leadership and problem solving skills.

During each weekly meeting, Workshop Leaders are responsible for:

  • Following meeting agenda
  • Leading group discussions
  • Highlighting information about the week's environmental topic
  • Facilitating interactive activities and games
  • Recommending specific solutions that reduce participants' environmental impact
  • Tracking participants' attendance and completion of program requirements
  • Providing encouragement and support to participants

To ensure student success and program consistency, Workshop Leaders are supervised and mentored by the Student Program Coordinator throughout the length of the program. Meet the current Student Sustainability Workshop Leaders here.

What will students do in the Student Sustainability Workshops?
Students will meet for 90 minutes each week for 9 weeks. With the exception of the first and last workshops, which focus on introducing and concluding the program, each week's workshop will be spent exploring environmental issues and solutions related to 6 key topic areas: water, energy, waste, chemicals, transportation and shopping/food.

Topics are explored in a variety of ways including:

  • Group discussions
  • Interactive games and activities
  • Video and PowerPoint presentations
  • Student presentations
  • Show-and-tell items
  • Fieldtrips (both on and off campus)

Regardless of the method used to explore the topics, emphasis is placed on student participation in discussions and activities, creating an inclusive atmosphere where all students are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. Students are also asked each week to choose at least 3 solutions from the Sustainable Worksbook that they will commit to implementing and are later asked to share the successes and challenges they experienced while implementing those solutions. In these ways, the Student Sustainability Workshop creates a fun, engaging and effective learning experience that truly impacts students' everyday lives and choices.

Who can participate?
Students and faculty at our participating college and university campuses.

Students: This program specifically targets college students because of their involvement in an academic community where they are encouraged to explore themselves and the world around them from a variety of perspectives. Since many college students are in the process of deciding what career path to follow, the information they receive in the Workshop about green job opportunities and the emerging green economy can be extremely helpful in informing their decisions. In addition, given that many college students are or will soon be moving into their own residences, we have identified them as a highly motivated population willing and able to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily lives.

Faculty: The success of the program is largely dependent on the partnerships we build with faculty members. Because the Student Sustainability Workshops are extra-curricular and not offered for college credit, we rely heavily on sustainably minded professors who recognize the value of the program to offer extra credit in their courses to students who participate in the Workshops. The promise of extra credit greatly incentivizes and increases student participation and gives us the opportunity to reach a demographic of students who might not otherwise be drawn to the program.

What are the benefits of participating in the Student Sustainability Workshop?
Benefits to students include:

  • Providing you with the practical solutions you can use to reduce your environmental impact
  • Learning how to save money by conserving resources
  • Exposing you to green careers that may interest you
  • Earning extra credit from participating professors
  • Increasing your public speaking and leadership skills
  • Enhancing your resumes and transfer/scholarship applications
  • Connecting you to the community both on and off campus
  • Receiving a Certificate of Participation from Sustainable Works at the end of the program
  • Making new friends
  • Improving your overall college experience

Benefits to faculty include:

  • Providing a turn-key option for introducing an environmental education component into your existing curriculum
  • Promoting retention by enhancing students' overall college experience
  • Providing international and ESL students with a unique opportunity to improve English speaking and writing skills
  • Encouraging more actively engaged students by promoting involvement in community service and other environmental programs, initiatives and events already in existence at the college
  • Connecting you with other faculty, student groups, and administrators who are also interested in promoting the culture of sustainability on campus

What are the program requirements?
Students who join a Student Sustainability Workshop are expected to:

  • Attend all workshop meetings
  • Complete weekly reading assignments in the Sustainable Worksbook
  • Fill out a comprehensive Sustainability Survey to assess their resource use and behaviors at the beginning and end of the program
  • Complete 3 hours of community service
  • Attempt to choose and implement at least 3 sustainable solutions each week
  • Actively participate in group discussions and activities

Only students who meet all these requirements will be eligible to receive extra credit from their participating professors or apply to become a Workshop Leader.

What are students and faculty saying about the Student Sustainability Workshops?
At the conclusion of each Workshop series, an anonymous program evaluation is conducted so that students can share their candid feedback about the program. Students and faculty at participating campuses praise the Student Sustainability Workshops for contributing to the ecological literacy of individuals as well as the educational experience overall.

"I truly enjoyed my Sustainable Works meetings and always left feeling enlightened and empowered to improve our way of life." – Santa Monica College Student

"I think this program informs the students involved on a level that most classes do not. This workshop is able to achieve this through involving the student's lives with the topics" – Pierce College Student

"I really enjoyed the workshops. Maybe it was because I saw the workshop leader's motivation and how she was leading by example…" – West Los Angeles College Student

"Sustainable Works is an asset for any campus or instructor with the aspiration to go green. The students in my classes who are enrolled in the program are regularly making the connections between our course material and their lives. After their Sustainable Works meetings they come to class and office hours full of bright green ideas and the confidence that the changes they can make constitute a meaningful contribution toward a more sustainable future for us all."
Amber Katherine, Professor of Philosophy & Environmental Politics

For more student and faculty testimonials, including video testimonials, check out our testimonials page.

How can I bring the Student Sustainability Workshops to my college/university?
Sustainable Works is ready to launch the Student Sustainability Workshops at any college or university that is interested in offering the program to its student population. For more information about how to bring the program to your campus please see our Services page.