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Environmental institute draws interest

David Moreau speaks at an open house offered by the Institute for the Environment and Curriculum of Ecology. Students were invited to learn about environmental majors, coursework, field sites and internships.
David Moreau speaks at an open house offered by the Institute for the Environment and Curriculum of Ecology. Students were invited to learn about environmental majors, coursework, field sites and internships.

In an effort to attract students to hands-on environmental work, the UNC Institute for the Environment took a face-to-face approach.

The ultimate goal is to involve students in on-the-ground research, and officials began promoting just that Monday at Wilson Library.

Co-sponsored by the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology, the event served as a faculty-led information session for about 40 environmentally conscious students.

The institute provides learning opportunities through field site networks, undergraduate research opportunities and internship programs, said Larry Band, the institute’s director.

He said the program has become less classroom-based and more centered on hands-on experience since its founding in 1998.

Band pointed towards the Environmental Field Site Network, which offers locations across North Carolina and abroad in places like Thailand and Cambridge, as an opportunity for students to organize semesters around their work.

He also encouraged students to consider a Capstone course, which allows students to work on interdisciplinary teams for environmental issues.

The institute also helps a variety of student groups connect .

Representatives from some of those groups, including the Sierra Student Coalition and the environmental affairs committee of student government, attended the meeting to recruit new members.

Sara Rafalson, co-chairwoman of the environmental affairs committee, said the institute has collaborated with student government on a variety of events and projects, such as the “Carolina Green” Sustainability Social that took place during the UNC Week of Welcome.

Stewart Boss, co-chairman of the Sierra Student Coalition, said his group has also collaborated with the institute.

“The institute has opened up great educational opportunities, and has helped in publicizing events for the coalition,” Boss said. “It’s a great forum for environmentally minded people to come together.”

Josh Meyer, a spokesman for the University who was present at the open house, said he hopes students who attended the event learned about opportunities with the institute and the importance of experiential learning.

“I hope that students realize how hands-on experiences can significantly impact their learning, as well as their careers,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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