Documenting Sustainable Practices

Instructor Name: 
James Hillegas
Course Description: 

Documenting Sustainability in the Pacific Northwest  In 1989, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "[development that] meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations." As the 21st century progresses, the concepts of sustainable development and sustainability have become increasingly complex. Partnering with Northwest History Network, this class will explore the idea of sustainability by looking at its historical meaning, and connect with and chronicle sustainable enterprises in the Willamette Valley through oral histories.

Students will apply sustainable ideas and themes within the context of events, movements, and people in and around the Portland metro area involved in what can be called “reclaiming urban space.” Students will explore the complexity of the subject by engaging diverse perspectives including historical, cultural, economic, and ecological.

Work will build upon previous research conducted as part of the Sustainability History Project (SHP). Over the past few years, PSU students have gathered over 100 oral history interviews with people from a range of Pacific Northwest industries including timber, green building, agriculture, burials, and ranching. These recordings are archived at PSU for use by researchers and will eventually be made available through the Internet. As sustainable practices continue to be evaluated and developed throughout the world, and as the Pacific Northwest becomes known for innovative economic and cultural practices focused on sustainability, student work on this project will be a benefit and inspiration to individuals and communities throughout the region, nation, and world.

Project Description: 

The primary components of this course, in terms of projects engaged in and products produced, are a recorded oral history interview, community service, and an essay. Students are highly encouraged to
correlate the focus of each of these three components to optimize efficiency and enhance each individual project.

This course is built around gathering an oral history interview. This process involves, first, learning about the fundamentals of oral history; second, researching the subject of the oral history; third, conducting the oral history interview.

Students will be required to complete at least five hours of volunteer service during this quarter, unless prior arrangements have been made with instructor. Ideally, this service will be with the organization that the student is concentrating on for the oral history interview, but final choice for the focus of the service component will be left up to the student, with the approval of the instructor.

The essay component of this course is composed of two stages. The first stage will be a 4-6 page version of the essay. Students will then enhance and expand this version over the course of the quarter to produce a more refined 6-8 page essay.