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This spring break, many Concordia students will take their education outside of the classroom by going on exploration seminars to far-off locales. However, Dr. Gretchen Harvey and Dr. Joy Lintelman have a new proposal for your spring break plans. The history professors have planned the pilot “eco-seminar,” entitled ‘Greenjustice in Chicago: History for the Future.’

“It’s not an exploration seminar, it’s a new thing,” said Lintelman.

Harvey and Lintelman will lead 15 students to Chicago, Ill. to discover what they can do about the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The group will even travel to Chicago in an eco-friendly way. They are taking the train, the most environmentally benign form of mass transportation. Besides reducing their carbon footprint, taking to the train also lends to the eco-seminar’s low cost. Greenjustice in Chicago is only $850.

The idea for the eco-seminar came out of the new core curriculum initiative. Students will “live out the responsibility engagement theme,” said Harvey. Lintelman added that the eco-seminar will also provide examples of the ways other people are making a difference.

“We have chosen what we believe is a global issue—environmental justice,” said Harvey.

Lintelman said they chose the city of Chicago because although it is relatively close, it is a global city like New York or London.

The professors are still developing their day-to-day itinerary, but they already have several visits planned, such as the Jane Addams Hull House, the Chicago History Museum, and City Farm, a sustainable organic farm. They will also explore why a toxic superfund site sits in the middle of the Mexican-American neighborhood Little Village, and how the Experimental Station in Hyde Park serves as an incubator for all kinds of environmental justice projects.

Besides group activities, the professors are also leaving half of the day open for students to explore on their own and to do activities that interest them. Professors instructing the participating courses may also have specific activities planned. The only requirement for students besides attending activities is to keep a reflective journal about their experiences. The journal can be handwritten, typed, or even a photo journal.

Participants will live in neighborhood apartments with three to four roommates. They will travel in Chicago by public transit, also contributing to the theme of being eco-friendly. All students will receive a transit pass to use both for planned group activities and individual activities.

The unique seminar has already captured students’ attention. “First of all, I have an interest in environmental issues and I love the city of Chicago,” said senior Nick Hannula. “It sounds a lot better than sitting around my apartment over spring break.”

The eco-seminar is open to several Global Perspectives and US Diversity classes. Students enrolled in one of these courses during the spring semester will have first priority, but if the cap of 15 is not met, other students are welcome to go.

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