Students at WaterHub

How the WaterHub is enhancing the student experience

Anne Nichols, an environmental sciences and educational studies double major, and Kristina Alton, a biology and human health double major, peered closely at a snail pulled from the artificial root system of Emory's new water reclamation facility. The two Emory College seniors were part of the "Green Beat" journalism class that toured the plant dubbed the WaterHub to do research for a writing assignment.

While at the WaterHub, the students' experience went beyond simply a field trip. It made an impact on their studies and future plans, the students say. Nichols, who aspires to be a sustainability consultant, wants to learn how to "make my audience excited about the environment." Alton says she now hopes to factor writing into her future, potentially in a medical or public health career. Junior Ben Perlmutter, a mathematics and political science major, says he'd like to "help other people learn more about environmental issues," potentially as a journalist.

The facility, tucked behind sorority houses on Eagle Row, was designed to bring students into direct contact with real issues. "This is not abstract. It's our water," says Sustainability Initiatives Director Ciannat Howett. "The campus is a living laboratory."

That is playing out as interdisciplinary interest surges around the center and faculty members integrate its resources into undergraduate and graduate classes and research. In essence, the water reclamation plant is the newest facility being used to enhance student learning and the student experience at Emory. Next steps are to centralize information about how faculty and staff are using the facility to foster closer collaboration, says Anne Hall, who directs environmental sciences undergraduate studies.

"Green Beat" instructor Sheila Tefft says the WaterHub is only the latest expression of immersive pedagogy: "Emory has long encouraged faculty to expand the classroom and foster learning in places where theory meets everyday life."