Tells the story of FLSI 2014 (Foresight Leadership and Sustainability Initiative), the program's inaugural year.
“FLSI was the best experience of my life so far."
- Muhammed S.; Islamabad, Pakistan
The Foresight Leadership and Sustainability Initiative at Oberlin Colllege (FLSI@Oberlin), which took place from July 20 through August 2, 2014, was Foresight Prep's inaugural program. 18 diverse students from throughout the country (and two internationally) gathered for intensive leadership development, exploration of impactful sustainability initiatives in Northeast Ohio, and exploration of potential future education and career paths.
- Sustainability Insight: 94% of students agreed the program increased their understanding of the systemic nature of sustainability issues, and of effective strategies for creating change.
- Leadership Development: 100% of students agreed the program helped them better understand and articulate their leadership potential. They identified their expanded understanding of leadership, and its applicability to their everyday ives, as one of the most valued outcomes of the program.
- Diversity: Two thirds of the students were low income, one third were students of color, and two were international (one from Pakistan, one from Greece). 100% agreed the program helped them better understand the impact of sustainability issues on diverse communities.
- College Preparation: 100% of students agreed the program increased their desire to integrate sustainability into their future education and career paths. Several remarked upon their newfound realization that sustainability is multi-disciplinary, and can be incorporated into any academic major, or future profession. 100% appreciated the introduction to campus life the program afforded.
- Network: 100% of students treasured the relationships they formed with peers, faculty, and guest speakers, the seeds of a network that will prove indispensable in their future change-making endeavors.
While it began inside the classroom, with a mix of readings, lecture and discussion, FLSI@Oberlin recognized that sustainability is often best understood beyond the academic setting -- through engaging field trips, conversations with established professionals, and hands-on projects and leadership opportunities. Its curriculum incorporated four focuses:
- Sustainability. A range of topics (e.g. energy, transportation, food, housing, waste and economic development) were examined across differing locations and sectors, including business, government and nonprofits. Classroom discussions focused on the development of a "systems perspective" that helped students recognize the interdependencies and root causes of various sustainability issues. The program explored Northeast Ohio's unique geographic "transect" from recovering rust belt city to rural and small town Ohio, with an emphasis on understanding what factors might ensure successful change-making strategies and processes.
- Leadership. Emphasis was placed on identifying and developing each student's leadership potential, as well as analyzing the unique forms of leadership required to confront complex and rapidly evolving problems.
- Ongoing Network. Prior to the two week seminar, students participated in a six week preparatory curriculum that paired them with undergraduate mentors who also served as program teaching and residential assistants. During the program, planned social activities and free time allowed students to bond with one another on a persona level. Following the seminar, they have become part of a network of current students, college mentors and established sustainability leaders that will support their future education and career paths.
Mode Shift: Biking Systems Analysis
The Mode Shift Biking Systems Analysis project provided FLSI@Oberlin students with an engaging, hands-on experiential learning opportunity that included the acquisition of high-level of systems analysis tools and interview skills that are sure to serve them in their future education and careers.
Biking provides a potentially healthy and energy efficient transportation alternative. The town of Oberlin possesses unique biking infrastructure, yet the overall number of residents adopting biking as a major form of transportation remains small.
FLSI@Oberlin students completed a systems analysis of biking in Oberlin in order to identify new strategies to incentivize biking. Through primary and secondary research, which consisted of interviews with a wide range of stakeholders, they gained a deep understanding of the current system, which they diagrammed.
After identifying the factors driving the current systems, and barriers to transformation, the students came up with a portfolio of recommended interventions.
View their report here.