Meeting the class

I started this blog as part of an upper-level college class that I teach: Geography 313, Energy and Sustainability, at Illinois State University in the US.  Class met yesterday for the first time, so I thought I’d give you a brief introduction to them.

There are 15 students in the class, mostly geography and renewable energy majors, with one graduate student in hydrogeology.  Several of the students want to work in the environment / sustainability area in some manner, and the next largest career goal is secondary education.  Three females, 12 males.  All (I believe) 20-25 years old.  At least one with military service.  The class is a seminar, so we sit around a big table and talk (in a room where the heater makes too much noise – this is a state university.)

Each of the students will be writing their own blogs as well.  Students – if you want me to announce your blogs on this page, make a comment to this post with your blog’s web address.  I’ll post it in a later entry.

From this point on, may of my blogs will be responding to these students and what we talk about in class.  I look forward to seeing what happens next!


The book I lose the most

You can tell how good a book is by how quickly you give your copy away.  And, how fast you rush out to buy a new one.

Several students have walked out of my office with copies of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1966).  A couple of weeks later, I find I just need to read a section of it and head out to buy another copy.  I’m always looking for copies at used book stores, thrift stores, and library book sales – so I can stock up some in my office to lose them again.

While I love the major philosophical points of these essays – that we are part of the environment, it is part of us, and because of this land is a social issue and not an economic one. These are not my favorite parts of the book.

No, I love it because it presents tangibility and hope in our relationship to the environment.  “We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.”  When I read about mundane tasks such as splitting wood or watching migrating geese, it gives me hope that there are some small ways I can make a difference.

And, whenever I lose the book, I know that someone else is making a difference as well.

If I cannot put a copy in your hands, and you cannot find or afford one on your own, please visit some of these places online that are dedicated to preserve Leopold’s work and thoughts:

Thinking Like a Mountain

Discussion Guide for Sand County Almanac

Excerpts from the Works of Aldo Leopold

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections – Aldo Leopold Archives

The Aldo Leopold Foundation

Thank you Aldo. 


This blog explores the intersection of sustainability, energy and the environment.  Johanna Haas is a professor of geography at Illinois State University.

This blog is part of a course blogging effort for her upper level “Energy and Sustainability” class. I aim for it to be positive, solution-driven, and always written with my students in mind.

Johanna can be reached a