California University of PA

Cal U Eco Learning Community
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Welcome to the Home Page for the Cal U ECO Learning Community


People, Nature & Media: Exploring Human Connections to the Outdoors & Natural World

Cal U Eco Action, new student club affiliated with the Cal U Eco Learning Community
To join or keep up with what's happening with Cal U Eco Action on Facebook Click HERE!


Next Event!:

For a list of more events see the Event Schedule

What is a "Learning Community"?
A variety of academic approaches that link or cluster classes, extracurricular activities and other events during a given term, year, or longer period usually around a cohesive interdisciplinary theme, that involve a common cohort of students, faculty and support staff.  This approach represents an intentional restructuring of students' learning experiences to build a community of learners and to foster more explicit connections among students, faculty, support staff and among disciplines to help community members experience a more coherent, interdisciplinary and enriched learning environment.

Why Cal U ECO?
The Environmental Council for the Outdoors captures the overall theme of the Learning Community in reconnecting people with the natural environment and the out-of-doors.  Additionally it ECO reminds community of their link to ecology and the environment through creating a greener, more sustainable campus environment and through personal interaction with natural environments in community-sponsored natural resource recreation activities and outdoor adventures. The "U" in Cal U stands for University but also represents YOU as you are a part of our Campus Ecology.

What is our Cal U ECO Learning Community about?

This Cal U ECO learning community will explore and investigate the dimensions of the human relationship with the natural world.  Recent literature describes Americans’ changing behaviors and report data that indicate a decrease in fitness levels, visitation to natural areas, basic knowledge of natural systems and participation in outdoor activities.  In addition, there is substantial evidence that demonstrates an increase of nature deficit disorder (decreased experiential knowledge of nature), ecophobia (fear of nature) and attachment to electronic media for vicarious learning experiences and leisure time activities.  These trends are predicted to continue with devastating impacts on the quality of life if immediate actions are not put in place to improve the human connection with the environment.

By bringing together key faculty, staff and students at California University the Cal U ECO learning community will facilitate and promote peoples’ connection with nature through environmental education, nature-based recreation and campus sustainability planning.  It will examine the ways the university promotes and contributes to physical and emotional health of its members through fitness, nutrition, outdoor recreation and a more sustainable campus environment.  The learning community will also examine how the collective actions of the university community impact the health of the natural places where we live and learn.  It will actively encourage a variety of perspectives through participation of faculty, staff and students to create an on-going university community dialogue and mutual support network for the encouragement and promotion of academic excellence in this area.
Finally, Cal U ECO will strive to encourage students and faculty to become more active in the out-of-doors and foster development of ethical interaction with the environment through education and stewardship.  Further it will encourage active involvement in direct actions to improve the sustainability of our campus through increased recycling, green purchases &  construction, reduce energy consumption & waste, encourage use of local & eco-friendly products & services, promote onsite renewable energy production and other sustainable & climate-friendly initiatives.  Our Learning Community plans to attain these goals through an active process of teaching, research and service in the outdoors!

We encourage you to join and experience in our Learning Community and become an active part of Cal U ECO.  This Learning Community provides increased opportunities for experiential and service learning through courses and extra-curricular activities promotes in-depth learning that enables students to better build character and careers.

Learning Community Leaders: (Email the leaders)
Dr. John Confer, Parks & Recreation Management (Email me, My website)
Dr. Kyle Fredrick, Earth Sciences & Geology (Email me, My website)
Dr. Bill Hug, Elementary/Early Childhood Education (Email me, My website)

What activities & events are planned? (2015-2016 Academic Year)
Click here for a detailed schedule and links to event documents & handouts

  • Cal U Eco Web Site (You are here!)
    Learning community schedule, progress, resources & announcements

  • Outdoor Adventures & Recreation Activities
    Fun, active and outdoor activities for Students, Faculty & Staff!

  • Brown Bag Luncheons
    Students & faculty invited to stimulate discussion of human connections to the outdoors & the natural world

  • Greening Cal U & Campus Sustainability
    Service learning project to celebrate & promote Campus Ecology

  • Initiate Student/Faculty “Outings”
    Promote/offer outdoor recreation & leisure activities to campus community

  • Academic Excellence Days 2016
    Presentation of Cal U ECO learning community events & outcomes

  • Other possible special events
    Film festivals, lectures, river/litter clean ups, invasive roundups, tree plantings, trail maintenance, etc.

  • Possible Future LC Activities

    • Student Participation in Future Research & Scholarly Projects

    • Team teaching of related classes in blocks as true Learning Community
      Environmental/Outdoor/Experiential/Adventure Education Curriculum

    • Park visitation, outdoor experiences and emotional, physical, environmental response

    • Active Student/Faculty Outing Club
      Student-centered organization for individual and collaborative events and trips
      Examples: Rafting, rock-climbing, hiking, biking, backpacking, camping

    • Campus Sustainability Initiative
      Energy consumption audit
      Service-learning projects associated with campus ecology & sustainability efforts

Cal U Eco Affiliated organizations:

*This Project was created and funded through a generous grant from California University of Pennsylvania & the Cal U Faculty Professional Development Committee 2008-2010
Currently the Cal U Eco Learning Community is funded by TBA
Building Academic Excellence Through Learning Communities

Learning Community Leaders: (Email the leaders)
Dr. John Confer, Parks & Recreation Management (Email me, My website)
Dr. Kyle Fredrick, Earth Sciences & Geology (Email me, My website)
Dr. Bill Hug, Elementary/Early Childhood Education (Email me, My website)