USG discusses sustainability education

USG senators speak on adding environmental courses to the general education curriculum to promote sustainability. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan)

Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Mahin Tahsin presented updates on projects revolving around changes to coursework at the USG meeting Tuesday. Changes involved making THRIVE: Foundations of Well-Being a required first-year course, as well as implementing sustainability education in more courses in the general education program or within existing courses.

The student-organized THRIVE course was initially created by a USG project and is offered by the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. It consists of a lecture about a specific topic, such as religion or mindfulness, and a discussion in which students talk about what they learned in a smaller setting. Students meet with faculty and are tasked with stimulating their true selves and practicing self-care. 

“It’s a course that ensures that students practice well-being, and it could really improve the culture that students have or their understanding of what it means to be a student and a well-operating human,” Tahsin said.

Tahsin has begun making plans to meet with Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni to add THRIVE to the freshman course sequence. 

“Given that it’s already a class that exists, the next steps would generally be working with Dean Soni, working with the provost’s office and working with all the academic deans to figure out how we can implement it into this curriculum for all students,” she said. 

Tahsin also prioritized incorporating sustainability education into University-wide coursework, including more general education courses with environmental focuses. 

“The sustainability education is still very much in the preliminary works, but we’re hoping to expand the number of sustainability-related courses that are offered in the GE program,” Tahsin said. “[There’d be] very small bits and pieces of takeaways that students can have from their courses that they already take or get offered more courses that are related to sustainability.” 

Tahsin hopes to work with the Environmental Student Assembly and other campus organizations to create a proposal to present to University administration. 

“I just think that generally, students can learn more about how their day-to-day affects the world around them,” Tahsin said. “It’s how the changing environment is affecting your allergies and stuff like that, which are very relevant and important for everyone to know, and how they can take a part in changing that and being involved in the change process for the entire world.”

Sen. Emily Donahue also gave a presentation on her ongoing projects. Tahsin, Sens. Emily Johnson and Omar Garcia and another representative will be presenting their proposal for a first-generation student resource center to President Carol Folt and Vice President of Student Affairs Winston Crisp in two weeks before passing a resolution of support for the creation of the center. 

Donahue, along with Sen. Christopher McMorran, will also meet with the transportation department to go over the results of last week’s undergraduate transportation survey, as well as potential next steps. The survey attempted to gauge student interest in subsidized public transportation.

The tampon initiative, which is designed to provide free feminine hygiene products to students, will be implemented in Residential Education facilities. However, Donahue said she hopes to find a way to make these products accessible outside of these spaces. 

“Most of the senators that I’ve been checking in with were like 80 to 90% done on things, so I’m really hoping to bring a lot of those projects over the finish line,” Donahue said.