Cathy Middlecamp takes sustainability out of the classroom with Sustainable U
Recognizing the potential of the initial project, Waste Eliminators, the UW–Madison Office of Sustainability awarded Cathy Middlecamp and Field Day Lab a Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education (SIRE) grant to develop and redesign Waste Eliminators into a game for the campus and general public. Piloted in Spring 2014, Sustainable U criss-crosses the UW–Madison campus with twenty levels of place-based and experiential activities and simulations to showcase underlying systems of sustainability across the four themes outlined on the We Conserve initiative: water, energy, materials, and transportation.
In the two-hour class experience, each location focuses on one or two themes and builds on prior ones. Several “mini-games” allow players the opportunity to test their understanding of sustainable systems. For example, after they see some of the variety of waste and recycling receptacles on campus, they can try a trash sorting game — What does it take to have a recycling program on campus? What does one do with the greasy pizza box?
Based on the evaluative data from the pilot in Middlecamp’s class, the game is being refined and expanded. People are now able to spend as much or as little time as they want exploring the UW–Madison campus from the perspective of Environmental Sustainability.