An Immersive Learning project is underway at Ball State University that will utilize the talents of students and faculty at two colleges to promote awareness of sustainable activities in Indiana.

Faculty mentors Dr. Adam Kuban, an associate professor of Journalism at the College of Communication, Information, and Media, and Dr. Adam Berland, associate professor of Geography at the College of Sciences and Humanities, are using their expertise in media and mapping, respectively, to lead the Fall 2021/Spring 2022 Immersive Learning project, “Sustainability Stories.”

Ball State defines Immersive Learning projects as high-impact learning experiences that involve collaborative student-driven teams, guided by faculty mentors. Students earn credit for working with community partners such as businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to address community challenges through the creation of a product that has a lasting impact.

In this case, Drs. Kuban and Berland have partnered with the Muncie Action Plan to give students the ability to create an online, interactive map that details and promotes organizations advancing sustainability issues in greater Muncie. Journalism students will produce original media content highlighting various organizations during the Fall 2021 semester, and Geography students will incorporate that content into a publicly available online map during the Spring 2022 semester.

The group is also working with another partner, the Office of Sustainability at IUPUI, to hold a Sustainability Summit for local sustainability organizations, and future iterations will expand more broadly across Indiana.

On Ball State’s campus, the “Sustainability Stories” Immersive Learning project has also received the support of the Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES), which is affiliated with the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning.

Additionally, Dr. Kuban’s journalism students throughout November are having their stories on the subject published in local Indiana newspapers The Star Press (Muncie), The Palladium-Item (Richmond) and The Journal & Courier (Lafayette).

“Sustainability is a loaded term,” Kuban told The Star Press. “It’s a large, complex term, and that’s what makes it difficult to legislate. It touches everything, our food, water, energy, waste, plastic, all these things that are relevant to us.

“We all live on the same planet, so it seems prudent when we’re educating our students—and that’s my job, educating young adults—I want it to be an active part of our curriculum.”

Ball State journalism students’ stories that have already appeared in The Star Press include:

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