e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | May 7, 2013 Twitter Facebook

Three generations of sustainability classes reunite

Sustainability students enjoy an evening at the home of Theresa Dougal.

Photo by Karen Purkey '13

In late February, Theresa Dougal, associate professor and chair of the English department, prepared a homemade dinner of vegetarian chili and fixings and welcomed 15 students from her freshman sustainability classes into her home. The social evening (supported by Student Services and Nicole Loyd, vice president for student affairs) was a chance for her students from the last four academic years to meet and interact.

In 2009, Dougal began teaching a freshman seminar on the topic of sustainability. “The course provided an opportunity to teach writing while also talking about what I feel is a very important topic,” says Dougal, who has been an environmentalist since her early 20s. In the class, Dougal introduced various topics relating to sustainability, encouraging her students to look at the evidence, think about it, and then write about it.

Caiti Campbell ’13, who in her sophomore year served as the 2010-11 sustainability seminar’s student advisor and resident advisor, says, “Having the sustainability course was awesome. Dr. Dougal taught us about different lifestyles and solutions. It was very eye opening and so much more than just learning about environmental problems.” 

The first two seminars were living and learning communities, meaning that the students not only had class together, but also lived together in a suite in the HILL. Being in the living/learning community gave students the opportunity to extend what they learned in class to their daily lives. “The cool part about it was we brought everything we learned in the classroom into everyday conversations with others in the suite,” says Margaret DeOliveria ’13.

Dougal was part of a living/learning community when she was a student at Boston College, and wanted to give her Moravian students a chance to reminisce about their experiences together and re-cement their bonds. She appreciated the opportunity to see her first class of freshman students again as seniors. “It’s gratifying to know students as first-years and then again as seniors, to see how they’ve been transformed by their own personal growth and their education at Moravian.”

The strong connections between the teacher and her students were evident throughout the evening, as were the bonds the juniors and seniors had formed with each other, thanks to their living/learning experience.

“The friendships we made were so strong,” says Campbell. “Sometimes we wanted to kill each other, but we were really close. In class, people weren’t afraid to speak their minds.” Campbell and Gina Seier ’13 were both students in the first living/learning community and have lived together for four years.

Mary Petrik ’13, who was a member of the second living/learning community, says, “Our community was very close. We all kept in touch. Our personalities really mesh.” One of the closest bonds formed in the living/learning community was the bond between Petrik and Andrew Benson ’13. During their first semester at Moravian, they became friends. Every Sunday, Petrik made Benson breakfast and Benson walked Petrick to Mass on the South Side of Bethlehem. During their second semester, they began dating and have happily been together ever since. Benson reflected on meeting Petrik in the living and learning community. He says, “I don’t think we would have met otherwise.”

The relaxed atmosphere allowed the students to openly share their experiences, with the upperclassmen offering advice to the freshmen, who were happy to hear how the seniors carried their first-year experiences with them throughout their college experience.