April 20, 2020

Mark Abendroth

Putting the Ability in Sustainability

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Mark Abendroth kayaking along the Chippewa River in Wisconsin.

To Mark Abendroth, associate professor of education in SUNY Empire’s School for Graduate Studies, “sustainability” is more than a buzzword. To him, it’s a necessary path forward, a concerted effort to create social awareness, a way to right environmental, economic, and social wrongs.

And he’s eager to add his passion and knowledge to the college’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

In addition to sitting on SUNY Empire’s newly revamped sustainability committee, Abendroth is hard at work writing curriculum for a three-week virtual residency focused on sustainability. Piggybacking on the success Rhianna Rogers, associate professor of anthropology and history, has achieved with virtual residencies as part of her Buffalo Project, Abendroth is working with Linda Jones, associate professor and chair of the Department of Natural Sciences in the School of Undergraduate Studies, along with Rogers, to promote course study in local and global sustainability movements.

The three-week virtual module will be cross-disciplinary, joining instructors and students for discussions, assignments, and a keynote address from an expert in sustainability.

Abendroth anticipates that two of the three residency weeks will focus on the science of sustainability, as well as an in-depth look at past and current social movements. The third week will be spent exploring “signs of hope” – real-world examples of movements that are making progress.

He says one real-world example – one people might be surprised to learn is connected to the future of our global environment – is the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The current situation is an environmental issue, similar to the 1918 flu pandemic,” Abendroth says. “It’s a very important time in history – for all countries to cooperate and bring an end to this crisis. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.”

Abendroth, a former social studies teacher, is also hoping to develop a K-12 sustainability teaching theme for SUNY Empire education students.

“The course would be a place where our students could grow their own awareness and explore effective ways to teach sustainability in secondary schools,” Abendroth says.

Interested in joining the effort? Current students, faculty and staff who are interested in joining the sustainability committee can contact Abendroth at Mark.Abendroth@esc.edu.