Video Transcript – The School of the Environment at Boise State University
>> ALEJANDRO FLORES, School of the Environment Design Team, Associate Professor of Geosciences, Director of the Lab for Ecohydrology Applications and Forecasting: It’s been a long process but I think it’s been a great process and the reason why is that a lot of this has been driven just by conversations.
[TITLE: Boise State University. School of the Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences.]
>> KEVIN FERIS, School of the Environment Design Team, Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences, Director of the Feris Lab: It’s a school that’s going to provide high value inter- and transdisciplinary learning opportunities for students.
>> EMILY WAKILD, School of the Environment Design Team, Professor of History, Director of Environmental Studies in the School of Public Service: Basically, the School of the Environment is an idea for elevating collaborative research and highlighting the educational potential we already have by building on our successes and trying to work towards something bigger.
>> KEVIN: It’s a novel support system for faculty scholarship that crosses disciplines.
>> ALEJANDRO: First and foremost, the School of the Environment, I think of it as being a community of people. It’s students, faculty, staff and external partners from outside of Boise State that are interested in creative and interdisciplinary ways of both understanding environmental challenges and finding solutions to them.
>> KEVIN: And it’ll sort of encourage the cultivation of partnerships with folks in the community for implementation of scholarly work and outcomes and you know solving problems in the environment out in the world.
>> EMILY: The School of the Environment gives us this enormous opportunity to harness the intellectual, and the technical, and the applied expertise of the university to some of our largest environmental challenges that exist everywhere.
[TITLE: Designing the School of the Environment]
>> EMILY: Designing the School of the Environment is sort of like doing a jigsaw puzzle in the dark, right? It’s putting all these pieces together in conversation with other people.
>> ALEJANDRO: And that’s why it’s kind of taken longer. It’s driven by this bottom-up process rather than somebody coming along saying, “we need a School of the Environment.” It’s driven by people saying, “here’s what our shared experience is and here’s what our shared vision is.”
>> EMILY: So it’s a collaborative endeavor, it’s a collective enterprise, and our philosophy on the design team has really been to throw the gates wide open and invite everyone into the party.
>> KEVIN: We’ve worked with faculty across campus to gather input on sort of like what the shared values and vision for a school might be.
>> EMILY: But it’s also mostly connecting people and having conversations about how we might go forward doing really exciting and interesting things for and with our students.
>> ALEJANDRO: It’s been a balance of both, “hey, what is kind of getting in our way, what are the barriers that we have to kind of working more together” and then the other part has been really about like what are the opportunities? What do we want? What do we want to see in a school?
[TITLE: Strategic alignment with Boise State and the College of Arts and Sciences]
>> ALEJANDRO: There’s a lot of intersection with the strategic plan and a lot of things that resonate. I think that what’s interesting about the strategic plan, and sort of the outcomes of it, is a lot of the School of the Environment, it’s not just about like all of the boxes that we check, but a lot of this has been about like, “wow, we check this box in a number of different ways.”
>> EMILY: I think the School of the Environment is aligned with all the aspects of the strategic plan. We pay particular attention to student success and access, and students have been voting with their feet for environmental programming for a long time.
>> KEVIN: There was definitely a feedback loop there between what was happening in terms of goals and envisioning the future at the university level, and then also thinking about what are the desires and the values and the vision of the school.
>> ALEJANDRO: When it comes to, for instance, you know the strategic idea of serving all Idahoans, we think about that not just in an educational sense, but we also think about this from sort of a research and scholarship perspective, thinking about the research that we’re doing having potential impacts and benefits for rural communities in Idaho.
[TITLE: What’s next for the School of the Environment?]
>> EMILY: One of the main goals is to make sure to be able to demonstrate that it takes the whole community to make progress on an environmental issue.
>> ALEJANDRO: And so we’re going to be looking a lot, you know, towards opportunities to partner with people, to, you know, shine light on existing great programming, bring together programs that maybe didn’t know they had as much overlap and intersection as they did.
>> KEVIN: Really am excited about expanding the experiential learning opportunities that we can provide for students and doing that in a way that supports both the student partners and the faculty partners in that engagement.
>> EMILY: So one important part of the structure of the School of the Environment is that we are not advocating moving people or programs into the school. We are interested in building connections and relationships among things that already exist.
>> ALEJANDRO: I think one of the great things that the School of the Environment could do early is just develop some capacity to just meet with those students kind of where they are and figure out, you know, what makes them tick, why are they interested in the environment, what impact did they want to have?
>> EMILY: So I think what people can expect and hope to see is a series of programs, a series of engagement activities, and really a more vibrant network and community of conversations around these pressing environmental issues.
>> ALEJANDRO: I really kind of look at this as a way to sort of provide collaborations and partnerships between the university and the business world, government, the non governmental world, and really is kind of a place where we can partner and work on these really significant challenges that are out ahead of us in terms of the environment.
>> KEVIN: So what we’ve designed in the school are support systems to broaden and expand experiential learning opportunities for students and connect that to sort of inter- and transdisciplinary work that the faculty are doing, and then tie some of those pieces together with relationships that either exist or ones that we want to build with community partners. By taking some of those learning opportunities and some of that scholarship and knowledge generation from faculty, and take it out of the university and go solve some problems out in the world.
[TITLE: Boise State University. School of the Environment in the College of Arts and Sciences. www.boisestate.edu/coas/soe]