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NWEI Staffer Liz Zavodsky and OCI Chef Instructor Ramona White

NWEI Staffer Liz Zavodsky and OCI Chef Instructor Ramona White

Oregon Culinary Institute Chef Instructor Ramona Lisa White has begun what is now an ongoing commitment to using the NWEI course books Menu for the Future and Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability in her ongoing culinary arts classes. “The students really responded positively to the readings,” says Ramona. At least 45 students have already completed her first course using the NWEI course books, and her second course began this week. Student Michael Gent noted “I thought the readings were helpful. I have noticed my general attitude regarding (food) ethics have changed over the course of the class.”

At NWEI, we believe the solution to many of Earth’s biggest challenges lies in the power of collective change: by taking action in our own lives and inspiring the people around us, each of us contributes to a world of impact. Over the last 20 years, NWEI has helped more than 140,000 people from around the world make small steps that lead to big changes for our planet. Thanks to the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Northwest Earth Institute is pleased to offer 1,000 free discussion course books to Portland-area students during the 2012-2013 school year. Oregon Culinary Institute has been one of the most active participants in the Spirit Mountain Community Fund Grant.

More than 300 colleges and universities throughout North America have successfully used NWEI course books in a wide range of academic disciplines and institutional settings. The student-led curriculum encourages critical thinking and active learning, and helps students find “Aha!” moments about the way they live, work, create and consume.

Oregon Culinary Institute student Tom Kelch reflected that “whether the readings were sad or uplifting didn’t matter because I learned things I never  thought about before.” Emelio Sansone noted that “each reading served very valuable lessons and I am making a great deal of effort to apply them to my life whenever possible.” Other students in Ramona’s class cited the NWEI readings as “eye opening” and “useful not only in our career life but in our personal lives too.”

Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability - one of NWEI's 12 course books

Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability – one of NWEI’s 12 course books

For educators in the Portland area, we’ve got an exciting opportunity for the 2012-2013 school year. Thanks to the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, a charitable foundation of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, we are pleased to offer 1,000 of our discussion course books for FREE to students in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties!

If you’ve never used them, Northwest Earth Institute’s discussion course books are an effective tool for teaching sustainability through a process of shared discovery, personal reflection and positive action. In fact, more than 190 colleges and universities throughout North America have successfully used NWEI course books in a wide range of academic disciplines and institutional settings.

Here at NWEI we see lasting change as being possible, social and fun. Our student-led curriculum promotes this kind of change by encouraging critical thinking and active learning, and by helping students find “Aha!” moments about the way they live, work, create and consume.

Here is what some other local educators have to say about NWEI discussion course books:

“Portland Community College has benefited greatly from our partnership with Northwest Earth Institute. The materials are well designed and appropriate at the college level. The discussions lead to a meaningful examination of the choices we make every day that affect our environment and its complex network of people, plants, animals and natural resources. The discussions also encourage participants to articulate their own philosophy about the purpose of humankind as it exists on planet earth.”

-Linda Gerber, President, Sylvania Campus, Portland Community College

“At Pacific, I offered Discovering a Sense of Place in my section of First Year Seminar last year, a course required of all incoming freshmen. Our section focused on the Experience of Community and Place and the NWEI course has been instrumental in orienting the students to this bioregion. The students teach the course in groups, fostering classroom community and bringing in their unique perspectives. The reception last year was overwhelmingly positive. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.”  

-Lara Vestas, Assistant Professor, English, Pacific University

The basic guidelines to participate:

  • You may select any of our 12 discussion course topics.
  • The books must be used for students in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington counties.
  • The books must be for new users or used in classes not recently using NWEI discussion course books.
  • In order to receive the books, we request that the instructor respond to a few evaluative questions at the end of the quarter provided by NWEI. We want to see these books actually used in the classroom and not just distributed to students with no discussion in class or with their peers. We also request that you share feedback from the students, which would be helpful in our efforts to secure future grants.

If you’d like to learn more or apply for some free discussion course books, call NWEI’s Director of Curriculum, Lacy Cagle, at 503.227.2807 or email at lacy@nwei.org.

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