Students in ADST 5P70 Participate in Sustainability Challenge

By: Kassie Burns

Screenshot containing challenge information (date range and course code).

Students in ADST 5P70: Applied Behaviour Analysis Measurement, Research and Evaluation, have found themselves busy competing in the Blackstone Energy App Sustainability Challenge. The class has been logging sustainable actions for the last two months! Course instructor, Dr. Kendra Thomson, described the course as “a first-year course in our Masters of Applied Disability Studies (MADS) and MA in the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) specialization in our Applied Disability Studies Department. One of the main course objectives is to give students an overview of and be informed consumers of applied and clinical research, especially in ABA”.

When asked “why did you decide hosting a Sustainability Challenge was important to incorporate into your class”?  She replied “I have been passionate about the environment since a child of the 80s & 90s, about a decade after the first Earth Day in 1971. I was a proud member of Kids for Saving Earth and used to pick up garbage in my small town with friends in the evening for fun. I have continuously tried to be a more environmentally conscious citizen and feel that I have a responsibility as an educator to inspire interest in this topic and encourage reflection and behaviour change in students. For the last few years, I have tried to incorporate a sustainability challenge into my classes. This stemmed from observing the large amount of waste produced in our all-day weekend model classes.  In the weekend model for our part-time classes, we are in class all day, after which I noticed the garbage bins were overflowing. I challenged the students in one of my classed about 5 or so years ago to see if we could reduce the amount of waste in the bin the next class by encouraging reusable coffee mugs and lunch containers. The successful outcome was visible to all students. This grew into it becoming a self-monitoring task built into all of my courses in which students are asked to report on their sustainable behaviours between classes for bonus points. The addition of the app is a bonus!”.

While conversing with Kendra, it was amazing to see her enthusiasm towards promoting more sustainable lifestyles and was a wonderful example of it in practice. Her class has just finished the challenge and congratulations goes to all involved with the top three leaders Thomasy You, Mikhaela Fernandez, and Arwen Hunter!

Reflecting on the experience Arwen Hunter, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, comments “using the Blackstone app was an excellent way to digitize the drive toward sustainability. Not only did it make it easier to record our sustainability actions, it also highlighted how many ways there are to make change in your day to day life. I was excited to see how many my family had already incorporated behavioural changes and was able to adjust with relative ease. The bonus marks were a great motivator to drive change”.

Emily Houston, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, shared “I have really enjoyed using the app to not only keep me on the right track towards sustainability, but I found it very helpful to see all the different ways to live sustainably that I wasn’t aware of. It has definitely made me more aware of my behaviour and has encouraged me to do better for our planet”.

Overall, the challenge showed great success and promoted sustainable lifestyles for students and family. Some of the most common actions the students logged can be seen listed below!

Sustainability Challenge actions included:

  • Using a reusable shopping bag
  • Air-dried laundry
  • Washing with cold water
  • Turning off the lights
  • Using a reusable mug
  • Turning the tap off while brushing teeth
  • Ensuring full dishwasher loads, prior to running
  • Eating local produce
  • Using a reusable lunchbox
  • Recycling/composting
  • Shuting off computer monitors
  • Skipping meat
  • Dressing for the season
  • Taking public transit
  • Eating leftovers