Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

March 2015

OSU-Tulsa Business Students Learn Sustainability Practices in the "Real World"

OSU-Tulsa students at Grogg's Green Barn organic nursery.

Carla Grogg, operations manager of Grogg’s Green Barn, describes how the organic nursery collects rainwater to use for irrigating plants.

Dr. Tim Hart wanted the students in his Sustainability in Tulsa course at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa to experience sustainable businesses practices firsthand.

During the winter intersession, 17 students were immersed in sustainability practices by visiting Tulsa organizations in several industries, including waste and energy, gardening, health and human performance, architecture and city development. The students learned how sustainability principles can be applied to business organizations and how implementing sustainable business practices can impact a company’s current success and future survival.

“Sustainability is not just about recycling and reducing energy, although those are certainly cost-saving, sustainable practices. Companies can also engage in sustainability by managing critical resources with an eye toward the future, investing in their employees, and delivering products and services their customers can trust,” said Hart, an assistant professor of management in the Spears School of Business. “The principles of sustainability are applicable to every company in every industry.”

Students toured Oxley Nature Center, Covanta Energy, Grogg’s Green Barn, Guthrie Green, Tulsa Recycle & Transfer and the Sand Springs American Environmental Landfill. The class also featured seven other guest speakers from local businesses and state agencies who discussed sustainability efforts within their organizations.

“The information we gleaned was knowledge we could only learn from talking to people who work with sustainability every day,” Hart said.

At the Tulsa Recycle and Transfer Center, students watched a $10 million automated multi-use recycle machine sort tons of recyclable materials. Plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard is bundled up and sent to manufacturing companies in Oklahoma to create new, recycled products.

Students saw waste material incinerated and transformed into energy at an energy-from-waste facility and non-recyclable waste placed in an energy recapture landfill. They also toured Guthrie Green, Tulsa’s downtown urban park and entertainment space that doubles as a showcase of "green" technology. The park’s sustainable features include solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling network and landscape filtration of rainwater before it goes into the storm water drains.

Sunny Ray, a local yoga instructor who regularly leads yoga sessions on the OSU-Tulsa campus, taught several "office yoga" poses that students can use at school or work to reduce stress and improve their ability to think clearly.

“The message of the yoga class was one of personal sustainability,” said Hart. “We need to take care of our bodies so our health won't limit us in pursuing our professional and personal goals.”

The students praised Hart and the course for taking them outside the classroom to learn about real life sustainability practices.

“If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this class prepares you for the future,” said OSU-Tulsa student Jessica Withington. “It helped reset my perspective on how I plan on using our planet’s resources and how sustainable practices impact people and generate profits.”

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