This year, Babson College introduced a new required first-year class that is integrated into the curriculum: Arts and Humanities / History and Society Foundation (AHS Foudnation). Professor Fritz Fleischmann, a teacher of over 25 years here at Babson, is piloting this new course, with a specific focus on “Nature and Environment.” After taking one of his first exploratory classes with this topic of the semester, my perspective on nature and the environment has completely changed.
Yes, reading books can create inspiration. Yes, watching movies about our planet facing environmental jeopardies can create inspiration. But how do books and movies create inspiration? As I finish my first semester at Babson, I have realized that my AHS class is by far one of the best classes I have ever taken in all my schooling. While I volunteer for an environmental organization back home—doing this from painting recycling bins to visiting state parks and participating in cleanups—the class’s focus on nature and the environment gave me a new perspective, and it started with a book called A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold.
One of the themes that provides a foundation for this book is that nature should not be seen as a commodity, but rather as a community. I look around today, and see how humans have abused nature. On campus, I see cans, candy wrappers, and an occasional beer can just lying in the woods. I walk into a residence hall, and I see people walking around, wearing extravagant fur coats, leather jackets, and synthetic shoes. Chances are, the majority of the stuff we own will be thrown away in a short amount of time. How do I know this? In my AHS class, we watched a short movie, called “The Story of Stuff.” (I highly recommend watching this video: it’s just over 20 minutes and really blew my mind…the link is below.) Never have I seen people—let alone students—so disgusted by how we as a society treat the world around us. We buy stuff, use it, and then throw it away shortly thereafter. More often than not, stuff is just thrown away and hauled off to a landfill, where it will sit for hundreds or thousands of years.
After watching this video, I was shocked by how much people have abused our environment. However, the video is just a small nick of the damage done to our planet already. One of the books Professor Fleischmann had his AHS classes read was called Eaarth, written by Bill McKibben. One might wonder, why the letter “a” twice? Upon completing the book, I now understand McKibben’s intentions. The letter “a” appears twice because humans have so greatly changed the planet’s dynamics, that our planet “Earth” is now “Eaarth” (in a figurative sense, of course).
One of the things that I have learned from AHS—in connection with my FME class—is that corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a major role in a company’s image. If a business is a major advocate for CSR, then it is likely that a business will gain a strong reputation. On the contrary, if a business is notorious for pollution and is not environmentally conscious, its reputation is hurt. I am determined that regardless of whether I start my own business, or, if I enter another business as a high-end executive, I am confident that I will make corporate social responsibility a major mission that keeps my business driven and progressive. However, it is not only business that I am learning about. I need to take all that I have learned from AHS and incorporate it into my personal life, so that I can teach others how to make an impact on the world in which we live in.