Student Projects Spring 2017

 This semester the students in Systems Thinking and Sustainability completed 8 service-based learning projects. The students chose these projects and worked on them over the course of the semester.

Wisconsin Microfinance Dinner Gala 2017
Wisconsin Microfinance is a nonprofit organization that funds microfinance loans in Haiti and the Philippines. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, millions of poor people were left with almost nothing to their names. 6 years later, the people of Haiti are still poor, and still live with little hope for the future. WI Microfinance provides funds for loans to a single community in Haiti. Last spring, they hosted dinner galas in both Madison and Milwaukee. They will repeat these events in April of this year.  A team of students will be responsible for coordinating both events, including soliciting items for the silent auctions.

Bounce Milwaukee

Bounce Milwaukee is a family entertainment center located in Milwaukee’s Bay View Neighborhood. They offer laser tag, rock climbing, adult-sized inflatables, vintage arcade games, and a full bar and restaurant. In addition to birthday and other celebrations for both kids and adults, we offer team building and corporate events.  In the last several years, they’ve “smartened” our building, added food delivery (exclusively via fully-electric vehicles) and become a Tesla charging destination, offering free charging and valet for electric vehicles. Students will be exploring the feasibility of adding a solar array to Bounce’s facilities.

Wisconsin Sustainability Report

For the last six years a group of students put together a report on the status of business sustainability efforts in WI http://www.wisconsinsustainability.com/wi-sustainability-reports/. This annual report is valued by the business community and other decision makers in the state. Wisconsin is the only state to prepare a triple bottom line sustainability report, modeled on the reports prepared by businesses. Students will be responsible for designing and producing the content for the report.

Simply Native Foods

In 2017 Simply Native Foods will be developing a new product line. They will be using all ingredients that are indigenous to North America. They want to be using the highest quality, most sustainable and most ethically grown ingredients in our new product line. Students will research potential ingredients and where to source them.

ATC: Environmental Performance in the Utility Industry

American Transmission Co. was founded in 2001, as the first multi-state, transmission-only utility in the United States. Unlike most other utilities, they have a single focus: transmission. They operate our system as a single entity, providing comparable service to all of our customers. ATC is committed environmental compliance in all aspects of our business. A group of students will identify a list of appropriate leading indicators of environmental performance and compliance for a utility. The team will research leading indicators within the utility and other industries that may be appropriate for our business. The team will then develop leading indicators, and recommendations on how to capture, measure and report on those indicators.

Kohl’s

Kohl’s is headquartered in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, WI and is a leading specialty department store with more than 1,100 stores in 49 states. Kohl’s is committed to living its company values and working to make a positive impact in the communities where Kohl’s Associates live and work. As Kohl’s evaluates its sustainability program, what initiatives can it choose that truly provide meaning to customers? How can it craft a message that is clear and relevant regarding the environment and sustainability? Students will research these questions and report back to Kohl’s.

American Family: Engaging Employees Around Zero Waste

American Family has a Dream for a Zero Waste Future and would like to garner more employee interest in this project. A group of students will benchmark other successful zero waste communication and outreach programs. The team will then create a communications strategy, content, infographics, signage and storytelling.

American Family: Green Teams

American Family Insurance (AFI) has approximately 7,000 employees nationwide and a highly engaged workforce. AFI is interested in creating a green team model to support the strong appetite to engage around projects with socially and environmentally sustainability purposes.   AFI would like to learn about current best practices for green teams in large sized businesses. The team will develop a S.W.O.T, research benchmarking summary, and interview other organizations doing this well.

Lesson Plans Spring 2008

Each student participated in a team that designed and presented a lesson plan to a middle school in the Madison area. These lesson plans were to educate middle school students on some aspect of sustainability. When presenting the lesson plan (teaching the middle school students), lecture could only be a small part of the overall presentation. Students were to think creatively about how to engage middle schoolers in learning.

This activity arose out of the belief by past students that they should have started learning about sustainability in middle school. Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison, and Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland volunteered to host teams of students. Student teams coordinated with a teacher in each school and presentations were both entertaining and educational.

Click below for the lesson plans for each of the teams.

Spring Harbor

Bottled Water
Environmentally Friendly Practices at Home
Global Deforestation
Community and Logging Impact
Sustainable Forestry
Water Test and Town Hall Meetings

McFarland IMMS

Chinese Business
Eating and Drinking Organic
Household Choices

Lesson Plans Spring 2009

Each student participated in a team that designed and presented a lesson plan to a middle school in the Madison area. These lesson plans were to educate middle school students on some aspect of sustainability. When presenting the lesson plan (teaching the middle school students), lecture could only be a small part of the overall presentation. Students were to think creatively about how to engage middle schoolers in learning.

This activity arose out of the belief by past students that they should have started learning about sustainability in middle school. Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison, and Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland volunteered to host teams of students. Student teams coordinated with a teacher in each school and presentations were both entertaining and educational.

Click below for the lesson plans for each of the teams.

What is Energy and Comparison of Students in Different Parts of the World

Lesson Plans Focusing on Sustainable Forestry and Food Choices

Organic Foods and Fair Trade Designations

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Issues of Scarcity, Pollution, Local Supply and Recycling, Consumption and Conservation

Sustainable Eating and Inequality

What is Energy and Comparison of Students in Different Parts of the World

Lesson Plans Fall 2009

Each student participated in a team that designed and presented two separate lessons to a middle school in the Madison area. These lesson plans were to educate middle school students on some aspect of sustainability. When presenting the lesson plan (teaching the middle school students), lecture could only be a small part of the overall presentation. Students were to think creatively about how to engage middle schoolers in learning.

This activity arose out of the belief by past students that they should have started learning about sustainability in middle school. Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison, and Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland volunteered to host the teaching teams of students. Student teams coordinated with a teacher in each school and presentations were both entertaining and educational.

Click below for the lesson plans for each of the teams.

Carbon Footprints and Microfinance

Energy Sources and Sustainable Ag

Food Origins and Food Systems

Food and Sustainability and Processed Foods

Habitat Restoration and Landfills

Healthy Food Systems

Recycling Food and Energy in Your Home

Drinks Lesson Plan

The Value of Money around the Globe

Student Videos Fall 2010

Each teaching team was required to produce a 5 – 10 minute video that they would use during their presentation to their class (see the lesson plans for how the videos were used).  The videos had to relate to the lesson plan, and were intended to be a creative outlet for each teaching team.  Without fail, the middle school students loved the videos, and valued the fact that these college students had put a video together just for them.  Click below on the links to each of the videos that were produced and enjoy!

A Day in the Life of a Sustainable Badger

A Organic Dessert

Cindy Lou

Dorota Dreams of a Farmer’s Market

Go Green 2

Madison Defines Sustainability

Smart Shopping and the Seasons

Lesson Plans Fall 2010

Each student participated in a team that designed and presented two separate lessons to social studies or a science class at Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland. These lesson plans were to educate middle school students on some aspect of sustainability. When presenting the lesson plan (teaching the middle school students), lecture could only be a small part of the overall presentation. Students were to think creatively about how to engage middle schoolers in learning.

This activity arose out of the belief by past students that they should have started learning about sustainability in middle school. Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland volunteered to host the teaching teams of students. Student teams coordinated with a 7th Grade Social Studies teacher Brett Jondle or 8th Grade Science Teacher Brian Coleman, and presentations were both entertaining and educational.

Click below for the lesson plans for each of the teams.

Sustainable Business

Energy Conservation and Efficiency

Ecological Footprints

Renewable Energy with a focus on Solar

What’s on your plate?

Producing Sustainable Food

Sustainable Eating

Living Sustainably

Global Warming Basics

Spring 2013 Student Projects

These represent the culmination of the students’ work throughout the semester. Each group was required to produce a final report- of which all are linked here, as well as a video. Not all groups created a video for this particular project. To see a full list of the videos from this semester, click here.

Wisconsin Sustainability Report

For the last two years, a group of students put together a report on the status of business sustainability efforts in WI.  This annual report is valued by the business community and other decision makers in the state.  Wisconsin is the only state to prepare a triple bottom line sustainability report, modeled on the reports prepared by businesses.  Your job is to decide on the metrics to be used in this year’s report that captures state economics, state environmental and state social issues.  I am open to recommendations on whether to include the same metrics, or to revise what is reported on last year.  Your task would be to work with Tom on the planning and development of the report.  You would need to either author the substantive sections, or find authors that would be included.  We have identified some sources for data for the report, but you should plan on starting with reviewing other organizations’ sustainability reports to determine if we are tracking and reporting on the right metrics.  You would be responsible for both the substance and the production of the report.  Given how many companies are now producing sustainability reports, having this experience under your belt could be a great resume builder.

Brooklyn Bridge to Cambodia

Brooklyn Bridge to Cambodia (BB2C.org) is a relatively young not-for-profit organization that exists to alleviate poverty in rural Cambodia by providing low-cost, efficient treadle pumps manufactured by KickStart International to destitute farmers. Current statistics state that around 80% of the Cambodian population live in rural areas where most rely on farming as their only or main source of income and are affected by issues such as food insecurity, malnutrition, lack of healthcare and education. The pumps allow farmers, 64% of whom are women, to access water and irrigate their crops, leading to increased harvests and thus produce they sell in the markets.

Thanks to marketing efforts suggested by a previous UW student team and research and development into a pump prototype that can be manufactured in Cambodia, they are ready to expand their business. The current method of marketing and selling pumps is to do demonstrations in villages that were shown to have a high potential customer base. Interested farmers will make an order by calling our office. The field staff would then transport the pump on the back of a motorbike to their village, which is on average two hours away from the office. The current method is time-consuming, dangerous for the staff and not an effective supply chain if we want to reach a wider range of farmers in Cambodia. Students were responsible for designing a feasible supply chain(s), beginning from a local manufacturer located in Phnom Penh, to the farmer and possibly including sale agents, wholesale suppliers, and NGOs.

Ōm Boys Food Movement

Social Enterprise Class: The Ōm Boys would like to pitch the university on starting a “class” taught over the course of a year that is focused on social enterprise. However, this class would be an actual food company where the students would run the company and oversee everything from day-to-day operations to strategic visioning. Om Boys asked for help in completing the back-end research to understand the feasibility of a project like this and, if it goes, what the structure and “curriculum” look like. How many students could it serve? What’s the “grade”?

BuyOne|FeedOne nonprofit: Last semester, a group of students worked on ideas for turning our BuyOne|FeedOne model into a non-profit organization to spread the impact of feeding malnourished children. With a clearer vision in mind, they asked for students to expand on last semesters’ work and to begin writing the actual business plan and launch plan for the BuyOne|FeedOne non-profit. BO|FO will partner with caring, socially conscious restaurants to add approximately $1 to each customer’s bill (this could be built into pricing, or many options). BO|FO will build out restaurant partners, build a marketing campaign, and find the most beneficial uses of the money to feed malnourished kids.

Audit of Lands’ End Sustainability Report

Lands’ End is a 46 year old global retailer based in Wisconsin, offering classically styled American sportswear, accessories and Home products for the entire family. They are committed to a superior level of service and connect with their customers through catalogs, on the Internet, through Sears retail stores and in their Inlet shops. Lands’ End employs more than 7000 people and designs, tests, sells, sources, services, packs, and ships over 45,000,000  units each year.  As a company with a history of innovation, they are strongly committed to minimizing their impact on the environment and they are beginning the journey towards sustainability via a focus on product, policies and actions.

They completed their first sustainability report that complies with the GRI C level reporting guidelines. GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) is an international organization that has developed and promotes a framework for transparent and consistent reporting of a company’s sustainability goals and achievements. The GRI process encourages reporting companies to have an independent verification/audit of the report. They asked that a project team provide this independent verification/audit of Lands’ Ends first GRI report.

Slow Money Wisconsin Entrepreneur Showcase

Slow Money Wisconsin, a chapter of the SMA, wanted a student group to design and plan an Entrepreneur Showcase in mid April, 2013. This showcase was part conference, part infomercial, and part  party: a chance to get investors and food & farming entrepreneurs, into a room or a barn or a dancehall together, to hear stories from the local small business and farm front, and see where well-placed investments can not only give a decent rate of return, but also give a decent rate of satisfaction.

The showcase followed a model for a Showcase that has been honed in Northern California. In addition to standard event-planning of finding locales and working within a budget, students were required to:

  • develop a set of criteria for screening potential entrepreneurs who will want a chance to tell their stories and their needs for investment;
  • attract investors so that the crowd is stocked with potential opportunity-seekers.
  • creatively promote the event and lay the groundwork for this becoming an annual or semi-annual event.

 

Marketing for the Blue Mountain Project

Blue Mountain Project is a grassroots, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that has been helping rural Jamaican communities since 2004. By living and working directly with the communities we serve, we are able to identify key areas of needed development and facilitate sustainable solutions. Our priority program areas were determined in consultation with the community and by our belief in a holistic approach. BMP’s priority program areas are the provision of clean water and quality health care, improving literacy, and economic development. Working with volunteers and community members, we make the most of every donation to effect lasting, productive change.

The Blue Mountain Project needs creative and innovative individuals who are willing to use their marketing and business skills to assist those in need. As a small, holistic development organization, we need you to brand BMP and help us create a unique marketing strategy so that we may reach a wider audience for both fund raising and volunteer recruitment. We hope to target young people under the age of twenty-five who are interested in making a difference. By finding that “it-factor,” we will be able to galvanize more support and attention to further our cause. Please, help us to help others and learn a lot along the way!

Capturing the Solar Harvest for Ethiopia: A Business Model for Solar Dehydrators to Add Value to Root Crops

The project seeks to improve labor productivity and food security of women smallholder farmers in Southern Ethiopia by teaching them how to construct small-scale solar dehydrators with local materials and building demand for orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) and potato (P) post-harvest products. The objectives of the project are to 1) develop innovative preservation technologies [i.e., solar dehydrators] for OFSP that retain maximum nutritional value and products that have market potential, and 2) create women-headed business enterprises.

This project will be implemented in a rural area where 1500 households have received training and resources to improve OFSP and SP crop production through the support of academic and private partnerships. The UW has worked with Ethiopian partners at the local, regional, and federal levels since 2007.

We would like to provide women with business & financial skills to make informed household economic decisions, develop local markets & relationships with buyers for OFSP products, create a branding strategy, and empower participants with the tools to launch value-added community businesses.  We need a team of students to help identify and develop the materials that would be most effective.  In a nutshell, we need a business plan, which would include:

  • Market assessment (competition? what does the market want? where is it located? etc.)
  • Competitive position
  • Identify resources available (assets, staff, raw product, etc.)
  • Strengths, weaknesses
  • Risk mitigation
  • Estimation of ROI, start-up investment costs, production capacity
  • Operational plan
  • Marketing plan