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Sustainability in Academics

Sustainability-Related Minor Programs

Interdisciplinary opportunities at Young Harris College allow students to express academic creativity by bringing together scholars from various disciplines who work together to advance our understanding of vital topics that cross the boundaries between traditional departments and degree programs.

Minor in Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement

The minor in Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement focuses on the rich and diverse cultures of the region, the natural history and rich environmental resources in the region, the experiences of the Appalachian people, the varied depictions of the region in popular culture and literature and the many challenges facing the region. Find out more>>

Minor in Sustainability

The Sustainability minor provides students with the background necessary to understand and tackle these challenges. Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary approach bringing together the knowledge and disciplines of environmental science, business, economics, politics, public policy, law, public communications, ethics and more. Find out more>>

Sustainability-Related Courses

Biology Courses (Biology 2208 – Native Flora of North Georgia, Biology 3301 – General Botany, Biology 3401 – Dendrology)

Each of these courses explores native plants in the area and involves their identification, taxonomic treatment and more. In addition, students aware made aware of the ecological roles each plant encountered may have in the ecosystem, as well as any ethnobotanical uses of the plant. Among many topics that arise during these plant encounters include the current problems related to exotic species invasion such as Chestnut blight, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Kudzu, Wisteria and Privet, to name a few.  Students also have the opportunity to discuss the ecological impacts of the process of photosynthesis, including its role in greenhouse gas reduction, the water cycle, atmospheric evolution and maintenance and, of course, the role of plants as producers in food webs. During encounters in the field, the idea of having a low impact on ecosystems by encouraging proper ‘trail ethics’ is encouraged during field trips. In addition, other topics addressed include sustainable forestry, agriforestry, herbal medicine, the ecological impacts of the “green revolution,” germplasm preservation and biodiversity issues.

English Courses (English 4301: Global Environmental Literature, English 2215: Wilderness Literature, English 1102: Food Fights and Futuristic Farms)

Students can choose from a variety of English courses related to sustainability topics. In Global Environmental Literature, students perform in‐depth study of global environmental literature, focusing particularly on the ways the assigned texts represent the natural world and issues of environmental sustainability—and the ways that these concepts are inflected by race, class, gender, and geographical location. The course blends literary analysis with discussion of the environmental issues that the texts highlight. In Wilderness Literature, students examine the idea of wilderness as it has been expressed through American literature and develop their own definitions of wilderness based upon the ideas from readings as well as field experiences. Because this course is cross-listed in English and Outdoor Leadership, the course balances experiences with the texts and the natural environment around the Young Harris College campus. In Food Fights and Futuristic Farms, students examine many dimensions of eating—nutrition, the ethics of eating animals, agricultural practices and how we might go about addressing what Michael Pollan calls the central dilemma of our time: “What shall we have for dinner?”

Honors Program Courses (HONR 1101 – Physics of Energy: The Role of Energy in Our Modern World)

This course centers around an introduction to energy, its history and limits and the basics of the physical concepts of energy. It also incorporates a discussion on the generation and transmission of electricity. In thermal aspects of energy generation, chemical energy is discussed, followed by thermodynamics—the study of converting heat energy to work. Nuclear reactions, reactors and safety are also discussed, along with solar energy and how it compares to nuclear power.

Academic Research

Dr. Jim Bishop - Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Bishop has begun work on a chapter, titled “The Real Big Kill: Authenticity, Ecology, and Narrative in Southern Frontier Humor,” for an anthology titled Beyond Southern Frontier Humor: Prospects and Possibilities edited by Ed Piacentino. Dr. Bishop presented a shortened version of this article at the biannual conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment in Bloomington, Ind., in June 2011. The paper examines the “big kill” in Southern frontier humor, tracing it to the influence of Baron Münchhausen’s Narrative of His Marvelous Travels and Campaigns (1785) by German scientist and tall tale writer Rudolph Raspe.

Dr. Bishop is also currently working on an anthology, titled Currents of the Universal Being: Explorations in the Literature of Energy, which he is co-editing with former colleagues Scott Slovic and Kyhl Lyndgaard. The anthology focuses on literary texts that deal in some way with energy—energy as a spiritual or philosophical concept, energy as fuel for our bodies and our machines and energy as an issue demanding political, economic and environmental solutions. The book is intended for a general audience but will be especially useful in college interdisciplinary courses dealing with issues related to energy. The book is slated to be published in 2012.

Dr. Bishop’s review of the Discovery Channel’s popular television series Man vs. Wild was published in the Summer 2010 edition of Precipitate 1.2. The article focuses mainly on the environmental values expressed in the show.

Dr. Paul Arnold - Professor of Biology and Dean of the Division of Mathematics and Science

Dr. Arnold regularly conducts research regarding Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) biopredatory control, attempting to find a sustainable solution to the problem of HWA, an invasive species of exotic insects that is currently destroying native hemlock populations. The YHC Hemlock Project is a volunteer organization housed on the campus of Young Harris College that Dr. Arnold began in May 2005 in an attempt to stem the growing  infestation of HWA in the hemlock stands of the north Georgia mountains. Biopredatory control of this disease is currently utilizing specialist biopredatory beetles that are the HWA’s native predator in Japan. Dr. Arnold and his colleagues have been actively releasing beetles—more than 250,000 of them over the past five years—into the environment in an effort to control this disease in a non-chemical, sustainable fashion.

Through his research of floral composition in the Southern Appalachian forests, Dr. Arnold has also studied the distribution of mountain plant species relative to slope and aspect on mountains in this area. It is Dr. Arnold’s hope that this research will contribute to the knowledge of environmental requirements and ecological niche of various native plant species in the area.