Education and the ‘Real World’ Part One

Four years after undergrad, I’m still seeing what I learned in college unfolding in our world daily. As I have mentioned before, I attended a progressive university. Florida is a very environmentally-conscious state and my university was no exception. With nature and wildlife being around 365 days a year in Florida, is one reason the environment was always at the forefront of residents’ minds.
One of the requirements of graduation was a class called university colloquium. The focus of the class was the study of the environment, more importantly our impact on the environment and our individual environmental footprints.

As a class we did various activities to open our eyes to our environmental footprint, we took a ‘footprint’ test online, we kept a journal of all the food we had eaten in a 24 hour period, and we had to note all of the packaging the food came in. That particular activity was eye opening. For instance, cereal, it comes in a box, with a bag inside of that box. Lunch meat, comes in a plastic container, with plastic wrapping over it. And forget about fast food, everything is wrapped, and it comes inside of a bag.
We had to not only focus on the wrapping of our food, but what it took to get the food to us, it was boxed up, shipped by train or semi-truck, processed in a factory, etc, etc.
Another activity that really stayed with me was watching videos about people across the country who were radically trying to reduce their footprint. I remember watching a video showcasing a family in Portland, OR.
The family had one vehicle, and they only used it when they really needed it, like going across town to visit family and what have you. Their main mode of transportation was by bicycle. They also had an organic farm in their backyard that provided them with food and they had chickens they used for food, (eggs and meat) as well as fertilizing the organic garden.

Now, I took this class in the spring of 2006. Most of these ideas were radical and practically unheard of, even in an environmentally progressive state like Florida.
Flash forward four years and several crises later and that family doesn’t look nearly as radical, they look admirable, responsible and environmentally smart.
The above story is just one example of how what I learned four years ago is still unfolding in front of me. With what I learned becoming more relevant daily, I’ve decided to make this a series of articles I’ll post here to connect my education with real world issues.

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