UW Sustainability offers a quarterly undergraduate seminar series through First Year Programs that gives students the opportunity to explore sustainability at UW and beyond. The winter quarter seminar explores the amount and breadth of sustainability-related academic programs and degrees in more detail.

Below are comments by students who have taken the seminar:

This is the second quarter I take a sustainability seminar and it was very different form the first course. I liked that we got to learn about a lot of different companies who are making sustainable choices. Apart from a lot of knowledge I will take a lot of new ideas of how we can make sustainable choices. I will be going home for the summer and I’m really excited to share my knowledge with my friends and family. I have two friends who own bakeries and I would like to help them save money and be more sustainable. I’m going to start off by helping my own family make sustainable choices. I’m going to have to start form the very basic things like composting and recycling. Freshman, Construction Management.

This class has opened my eyes to many new environmental organizations, environmental causes, and about business sustainability. I have enjoyed the open discussion about different business some local, other large corporations, and how they work to achieve higher levels of sustainability. I was surprised by some major companies that I am a regular customer at like Nike, who doesn't make the best efforts for sustainability and child labor. Or Apple INC and how their sustainability efforts are new under CEO Tim Cook. I am interested in pursuing a degree in Human Resources and adding a sustainability component to my education and resume is something I want to bring to the table to future businesses I’m involved in and work for. Similarly, I was shocked by how taxing the high quaility of life most Americans live is on the environment and companies need to reduce their waste to serve as a model for customers. Sophomore, Political Science.

Reflecting back on this quarter, I really enjoyed getting to hear what my classmates worked on for their assignments. Particularly, I liked the cause models because I felt inspired hearing about the other causes that people were passionate about. As someone who plans on teaching kindergarten, I think it was neat to learn more about sustainable ideas. I am excited to see how I can make my class more environmentally friendly and how I can teach my students how to live sustainably. I think especially for this next generation it’s important that they are learning how to care for our environment early on. I am looking forward to coming up with fun environmental lessons! Senior, Early Childhood & Family Studies.

I have attended quite many seminars since freshman year, and this by far is the most discussion-based seminar. When I first applied for the class, I assumed that it would be mostly about reading weekly assignments and writing a paper or taking notes during the full hour lecture. Surprisingly, however, the class has turned out to be the exact opposite of what I expected. Professor Schmidt invites several guest speakers - some from our age group and some from the faculty members - and introduces different aspects of sustainability. He also encourages us to freely talk about our thoughts on sustainability in our daily life. Sophomore, Public Health.

I enjoyed the class and topics as brief as they were. But getting a glimpse from everyone's insights/perspectives was particularly effective and eye opening. I think I've developed a better grasp of how sustainability plays a role in corporate markets, and understand what's behind the hesitancy for adopting efficient and non-wasteful behavior to optimize material, time, resources, and people. It was also great to hear what sort of opportunities are around us, especially at the school. I will be looking further into clubs, classes, and if not directly take action, I will consider sustainability in future projects, collaborations, and efforts. It was especially inspiring to hear about what individuals and organizations have done and can do in support of the movement, and these practices feel within reach, attainable, and beneficial to our life on Earth. I appreciate the resources and information you've provided greatly! Senior, Design.

I really enjoyed this class, especially when everyone shared out their own initiatives. It made me think about parts of campus that I usually don’t consider in a sustainability point of view, like the Greek System. Honestly, in the past when I thought about sustainability, I never considered the internal business aspects of it. I would silently criticize companies that use too much plastic packaging or source their goods irresponsibly, but now I realize that there are companies that have great sustainability initiatives, and that consumers do have a voice in helping change policies! Since I’m graduating in two weeks, I’ve been looking back on my time at UW and really wish that I had chosen environmental science or something similar as a minor or a double major. This class helped me see that even if I don’t have an environmental degree, I can still play a part in advocating for sustainability wherever I end up. For the coming year, I’m not sure where I will be working, but I will apply for the UW’s Masters in Teaching program next year – and if I become a teacher, that will be a fantastic platform to spread information about sustainability and the environment. Senior, Italian Studies.

This seminar has been a quite a surprise. I have been exposed to a variety of ideals through class composition and a variety of guest speakers, as well as from the instructor, having had a variety of work and academic experiences. I plan to continue my efforts at sustainability, while making every attempt to influence others to do the same—both professionally and in my personal life. Senior, Finance. I liked how we were able to discuss what we researched instead of being lectured at. I also like how people could bring up whatever you wanted because you knew whatever the person talked about is what surprised them/what impacted them. Being an environment major, my career goals already dealt with the environment but it makes me happy that this class brought up the environment to people that are not in the major. What I will take away from this class is I want to spend more time researching products I am buying and the restaurants/stores I am shopping at. Next big steps in my life are graduation on June 10, which is worrying me because I do have one job offer but I don’t really like the job so I am still searching. Senior, Environmental Studies.

First of all, this class was worth taking for me even though it is only 1 credit course because it gave me the chance to learn various and interesting things. At first, I was really not interested on sustainable life, and never thought deeply about it. Now, I know how and why sustainable life is important for all of us. And also, through this class, I learned that lots of companies, schools are already doing sustainable project. Even, there was something very new to me that I have never thought it could be a sustainable thing. I would continue doing many sustainable things and protect our environment. Senior, Communications.

Personally, I enjoyed learning about some interesting concepts and ideas, then going out on our own and researching to find examples of these concepts in the real world. Not only does this show how applicable the stuff is, but helps me remember what exactly the concept entails by putting it into a real-world example. This class definitely kept my interest in the environment and sustainability, and inspired me to learn more, as I am excited to take an environmental history class of the US, next fall quarter. Sophomore, Health Sciences.

I enjoyed this class this quarter! Even though it’s been a small time commitment, I had been missing my AP Environmental Science class from high school and the extracurricular work we did together around sustainability in my school district because since coming to college I’ve mostly taken polisci and econ classes so it’s been fun to get back into sustainability and see the cool stuff happening around campus. I enjoyed the many opportunities to learn about different initiatives some of my favorite brands have been undertaking to promote sustainability. I would say nothing in particular really jumped out and surprised me, most of what I learned was things that I expected. The big take away is that there’s always different opportunities to get involved in sustainability and to actively seek out different opportunities to make sustainable change, and then act on that opportunity. Since I’ll be graduating and moving onto the workforce, it didn’t drastically change my plans but reaffirmed my commitment to living a sustainable life. Senior, Political Science.

I enjoyed taking this class a lot. There were lots of interesting ideas that I had never heard of. I think I will take most out is that I can suggest ideas when I see a problem that I want to change but I just need to think about what the people I am suggesting to want. I liked learning about the different ways myself as a consumer can influence businesses into making more sustainable choices. I also want to continue to reflect and change things in my life and professional to live a more sustainable life since there are so many ways that can make impacts. Senior, Mathematics.

I really liked the short assignments in this class. They really got me to think about my impact as a person and a consumer, as I really had to evaluate the things I buy and use in my day to day life. I’m much more aware of how much or little I use now (I switched to a reusable sandwich bag instead of using Ziplocs everyday now!) and I am a lot more interested in researching the brands I buy not just for the quality of the products, but to see how much they care about their impact as well. It also never occurred to me that even just the act of asking about a business’ sustainable practices is sending a message to them that this is what their customers want. For now, I think I will stick to making little changes in my life like beginning my own compost bin at home, but I will definitely be making bigger steps later on, like some of the “want to” items on the list I wrote in the first few weeks. Applied & Computational Math Sciences