Environmental activist and author Annie Leonard will discuss consumption, waste, limited resources and sustainability – topics from her book “The Story of Stuff” – at Cal Poly Pomona on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. in Ursa Minor. The discussion will conclude with a question and answer session, followed by a book signing.
Leonard’s controversial book is on the required reading list for the majority of freshmen at Cal Poly Pomona through the First Year Experience program, whose goal is to help students understand and adjust to college academic expectations. Through First Year Experience classes, with specific curriculum designed in each college, students are analyzing Leonard’s assertions about the environmental and social costs of production and consumption of goods.
Academic Affairs started the First Year Experience program three years ago to help freshmen better connect with Cal Poly Pomona and their major, according to Claudia Pinter-Lucke, associate vice president of academic programs. Students learn about the method of critical inquiry that is required in college, especially in general education courses.
“Similar programs at other universities have shown that such programs help students succeed in terms of grades, time to degree and general satisfaction with the college experience,” Pinter-Lucke says. ” ‘The Story of Stuff’ is an attempt to give the freshmen a common experience, whether they are in agriculture or Collins, and whether they are in a First Year Experience class or not.”
Dale Turner, professor of philosophy and committee chair, adds: “The idea is to interact with the text and mull it over. The book is used in a way to get students to think about how they can take a text, challenge it, and decide to agree or disagree with it.”
“The Story of Stuff,” published in March, is based on a 20-minute video in which Leonard talks about how much Americans waste, from extracting the planet’s resources to producing goods to disposing trash. She describes how consumerism is linked to pollution, climate change and the expansion of corporations.
In addition to including the reading in First Year Experience courses, the university is offering several supplemental activities, including discussions, an essay contest, and a conference (Nov. 12-13) sponsored by the Ahimsa Center on nonviolence and sustainability. Plans are being developed for winter and spring quarters to show environmental documentaries and to host a speaker series on sustainability.
To learn more about the First Year Experience program, visit www.cpp.edu/~academic/fye/.