For the first time in its history, SUNY Oswego will embark on a campus-wide initiative later this year. Students from multiple disciplines will collaborate to present solutions for a global issue.
With Lake Ontario as the backdrop, "fresh water for all" will be the focus of SUNY Oswego's first Grand Challenges project. Leigh Wilson, director of the college's interdisciplinary programs and activities center, says individual classes will be tasked with exploring fresh water issues and developing potential solutions to those problems that draws on their specific area of study.
"It’s a matter of the different disciplines finding creative ways into that topic," Wilson said. "There’s everything from microplastics, which would seem to be a chemistry or biology interest. But the fact is, I think an art student talking about micro plastics and worrying about whether anybody understood that was and what the dangers were could start doing drawings and posters that could be very impactful across a wide audience."
The Grand Challenges project is expected to take two academic years and along the way, Wilson hopes to amass hundreds of artifacts ranging from papers to research projects. The college will profile the results online and pass some of their findings onto local organizations that work with the Great Lakes.
Wilson says students will be the ultimate beneficiary in the project, though.
“Once they apply their learning, once they work with other disciplines, once they have a civic engagement experience – they’re really beginning to use their knowledge in ways that the real world is going to ask them to use it and that’s obviously very important for them,” Wilson said.