This semester I’m taking a senior seminar course as a junior. For biology majors, it is required to take a senior seminar, senior research, or a practicum in biology. So, I decided to get a jump on it and added the class to my schedule this semester.
The cool thing about the biology senior seminar is that the topic changes every semester! Two semesters ago it was focused on conservation biology and the class was so well received that they decided to make it an actual course, which I took (and literally loved) last semester. This semester the senior seminar is focused on urban ecology.
The first few weeks of class we went over various case studies and developed a working definition for what urban ecology means to us. Now we’re in the midst of planning a green initiative yard sale for the end of the semester (so people don’t have to throw away things at move out!) Another aspect to the class now is that we have various guest speakers come in and talk to us about the different facets and multitudes to urban ecology.
This past week President Hutton came in to speak to our class. As all Utica College students, faculty, and staff are aware, our president is actively involved in many campus activities. He is also actively involved with the city of Utica. He is currently a member of the city board and gives input on various issues. (He has been a member of several city planning communities throughout the country!)
He also told our (enraptured) class about the various conservation efforts he and various other Utica College officials have taken to ensure our campus is staying up to date in the world of sustainability.
Did you know Utica College (along with the hospital) was the first school to produce its own energy? I had no clue! That building back behind Burrstone Hall is actually a microgrid that produces energy that is used by the hospital and our campus. During the day the micrgrid produces about 80% of our energy and the other 20% is supplemented from National Grid. At night, all of the energy being used on the campus is produced by the microgrid.
The campus is also looking into other sustainable options. Unfortunately full solar power for the campus is simply not a feasible option as of now. However, they are looking to put solar panels in above the pool in the athletic center so it can be heated that way! Little steps add up!
It was definitely a really cool experience to have the president of Utica College come in and talk to my senior seminar class. We’re only a class of 7, yet he still treated us as if we were a larger class. He asked us our opinions and seemed genuinely interested in our thoughts. I got to talk about my favorite issues, and felt like my opinions were actually being heard. It was probably my favorite class hour that I’ll ever have at Utica College!