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Sustainability Experience Course Description

The Genesee Valley Sustainability Experience is the only summer experience program that is open to all students attending Geneseo in the fall semester.  This program is taught by Director of Sustainability, Dan DeZarn, and takes students on a tour of the Genesee Valley from a sustainability perspective.  Through kayaking and hiking trips from Conesus Lake to the Genesee River, students physically traverse the trip that water takes before and after it reaches the Geneseo campus.  Students will stay at the historic Wadsworth Homestead on Main Street in Geneseo.  They will explore the unique history of the Wadsworth family and the town of Geneseo and learn about the original inhabitants of this land, the Seneca Nation. This trip is designed to enhance students' connection with the local community and its resources, while diving into a breadth of campus sustainability issues.  This course is designed for students interested taking an active role in campus sustainability during their college career.

Students planting in the eGarden (energy garden) on campus

Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Apply discipline-specific knowledge and skills to place-based learning experiences
  2. Form connections between broad conceptual frameworks and themes (e.g., but not limited to, sustainability, politics and power, economics and social structures) and local contexts
  3. Engage in critical analysis and argumentation in oral discourse and written work
  4. Synthesize multiple content knowledge in engagement with real-world problems and issues
  5. Reflect upon academic experiences, assess changes in learning and outlook over time, and to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection

Who Should Apply?

Any and all incoming first year students and returner students with an interest in sustainability and the outdoors.  No prior hiking, canoeing, or sustainability experience is necessary.  We especially encourage students who have applied for housing in Eco House, Food Culture House, and the Nassau Arts Community as this experiential learning opportunity overlaps with the goals of those Living-Learning Communities.  Anyone with an interest in trying something new is encouraged to apply.  Enrollment is limited and determined on a first-come, first served basis with spaces reserved for incoming first year students.  An application is not complete without a payment, which are due by June 30, 2018.


All participants will stay in their Fall 2018 Housing Assignment on campus on Sunday night and Wednesday night.  On Monday and Tuesday nights, students will stay on the second floor of the Wadsworth Homestead, in a number of shared bedrooms, common areas, and bathrooms.  


All meals are provided beginning with dinner on Sunday night through dinner on Wednesday night.  Students are expected to handle their own meals on Thursday and Friday until the new-student dinner on Friday night.  Dining Halls do not open until Saturday for returning students.  


Students should arrange their own transportation to the SUNY Geneseo campus and then we will provide state vehicles to transport you to any other destinations.


  • At least one pair of good hiking or athletic shoes that they don't mind getting dirty or wet.
  • Comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing
  • Long pants for hiking (there is a lot of poison ivy and pricker bushes, even on the well-maintained trails)
  • Swim Wear (for canoeing and swimming)
  • Sun Screen


  • Students will be graded on their willingness to participate fully in activities and discussions (25%)
  • A short, writing assignment will be due at the end of the summer session (20%)
  • Four reflective assignments due throughout the Fall Semester (30%)
  • Story Map completed at the end of the fall semester (25%)


  • Sunday: arrive on campus, move into your halls and rooms for the fall semester; join group at central location at 4:00 pm
  • Monday: Pack up and move into the Wadsworth Homestead; Our water story starts at Conesus Lake; Dinner and evening activities at the Homestead.
  • Tuesday: Early start and hike the Village of Geneseo, including on campus sustainability tour and discuss water usage; dinner and evening activities at the Homestead.
  • Wednesday: Early start and kayaking trip down the Genesee River (where our water ends up);  Dinner is on campus, catered by Campus Auxiliary Services.
  • Thursday: On your own - settle into your rooms and prep for the semester; meals are on your own
  • Friday: New Student Move-In! Check the New Student Programs webpage for up-to-date information.

Fall Semester:

  • Meet twice in the fall semester to discuss your transition to the semester and involvement on campus.

  • Attend events and write reflections to integrate your curricular, co-curricular, and sustainability interests.

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