Vasudha members and alumni are actively working on environmental projects both for Vasudha and for other RPI clubs. Currently, Vasudha first-year students are fundraising for Heifer International, an international non-profit that provides goats to subsistent farmers in developing countries. Over the past two years, Vasudha members and alumni have organized and planted a garden, led by Kenny Campbell ’16, Jessica Onion ’16, and Jennifer de Souza ’16. Planning was coordinated with relevant RPI divisions. Several workdays, where Vasudha members and alumni alike were invited, made this event a truly community-based project.
Vasudha is a first-year living and learning community where students study and live with other students who share their interests in the earth, its environment, and our natural and energy resources. The students who elect to participate in this program can enroll in a core seminar, IHSS-1970 Nature/Society, offered during the fall semester. This course counts as a HASS elective or towards the Sustainability Studies minor or major. They also have other opportunities to take additional courses related to energy, environment, and earth sciences, including a dedicated section of Biology with greater attention to nature’s ecology. Similar to the other theme houses at Rensselaer, all first-year members of Vasudha live on the first floor of Nason Hall, which has a dedicated lounge and classroom. The lounge has a kitchen that students use to make community meals, such as fall barbecues or Thanksgiving dinners. The Resident Assistant of the first floor of Nason Hall tends to be someone active in sustainability efforts on campus; in 2013 to 2014, the RA is Jesse Novielle ’15, who is treasurer of EcoLogic and co-chairman of the Student Sustainability Task Force. Sophomores are given the chance to continue to live in the same residence hall, especially now with RPI’s new group commons process. Upperclassmen may find themselves sharing an apartment or on-campus residence with other Vasudha alumni, but the choice for participation beyond freshman year is up to individual students.
The Vasudha program gives students many opportunities to participate in, and organize, extra-curricular activities, including educational field trips, lectures, and workshops. This year Vasudha sponsored a lecture series, and visited the Darrin Fresh Water Institute at Lake George, the historic Erie Canal, The Radix Center in Albany, and a local farm.
Vasudha also gives students opportunities for leadership, starting their freshman year. As a result, many Vasudha alumni have been leaders in environmental, political, and other clubs. Vasudha alumni like Elizabeth Anderson ’14, Taylor Prince ’14, and Sam Brown ’15 have gone on to be active in sustainability efforts at Rensselaer, serving as leaders of EcoLogic, the Student Sustainability Task Force, Terra Café, and Engineers for a Sustainable World. Alex Haig ’14 and Arun Fricker ’14 have also been highly involved with SSTF projects. Other Vasudha alumni, such as Edward Yu ’13, Kyle Keraga ’15, and Greg Niguidula ’15 have been involved with student government. Anasha Cummings was active both in the environmental clubs and student government during his time at RPI and now works with Troy politics, helping the write sustainability-relating municipal policy. Other Vasudha students have been leaders in non-environmental clubs. Multiple Vasudha alumni have been involved with Alpha Phi Omega as well as social fraternities and sororities. Many first-year Vasudha students are already involved in environmental clubs and may find themselves moving to leadership roles during their education at RPI.