Promoting Sustainable Madison by Learning from Freiburg

by Dadit Hidayat

This summer from May 29th to June 14th, the Global Health Institute (GHI) funded a 3-week summer course as part of the Wisconsin Without Borders (WWB) initiative called “GreenFreiburg in Madison.”  WWB is a collaborative initiative between the Morgridge Center, GHI, and the Division of International Studies. CUE staff provided curriculum development to instructor Ted Petith, with support from Professors Nancy Mathews, Nelson Institute, and Alfonso Morales, Urban and Regional Planning.  Following up on last summer’s course “GreenSummer in Freiburg”, where15 undergraduates traveled to Freiburg for six weeks for internships, service learning projects, and research about Freiburg’s sustainable practices and technology, this year’s locally-based course brought in Uwe Ladenburger from the University of Freiburg to work with Global Health Certificate students in building awareness of Green Practices that can be replicated here in Madison.  Ted Markus Petith, community co-instructor and Freiburg native, showed students the complex connections between sustainability and global health to identify specific green behavior that improves human health and quality of life.  Mr. Petith designed site visits for students to learn about similar sustainability project initiatives in Madison. Further, students were encouraged to identify opportunities for other potential green projects.  A journal article about this initiative is available online.

Freiburg is one of Madison’s oldest sister cities.  They have achieved 40% CO2 reduction, have integrated public transportation, incentivized low-energy housing and mandated near-zero energy standards for public buildings.  These courses have been set up to facilitate sharing  findings and knowledge of Freiburg with City of Madison engineers, planners, recycling coordinators, and UW-Madison’s Office of Sustainability.  The goal is to continue to grow this exchange. Students will return to Freiburg again in 2013, and the Morgridge Center and CUE are in discussions about creating a “Sustainable Sister-City Network” of faculty, academic staff and students with individual expertise in all aspects of Freiburg’s knowledge base.

As a service-learning course, students’ enthusiasm and energy were also directed toward a tangible “deliverable” product that could be useful for our campus and the City of Madison.  Students worked on a “MadEcoGuide” detailing Green features of our campus and city which will be distributed to students through the Office of Sustainability, Campus Residence’s GreenHouse community, and other locations. ■

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