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Published: April 16, 2021

Management Course Takes Twist with Sustainability Project

The University of Tampa’s Principles of Management (MGT 330) course, which is required for all College of Business students, focuses on the evolution and practice of the core management functions of planning, organizing, leading and controlling. But in assistant professor of management Ru-Shiun Liou’s class this semester, there’s a unique twist: sustainability.

Portrait of professor Ru-Shiun Liou
Led by Ru-Shiun Liou, assistant professor of management, UT’s Principles of Management students have created the Earth Week Conservation Challenge to promote water and energy conservation in six residence halls. Photo by Drew McDougall ’22

The semester-long project Liou’s 31 students are engaged in — the Earth Week Conservation Challenge — has six teams working and competing to promote water and energy conservation in six of UT’s residence halls: Austin, Brevard, Straz, Jenkins, McKay and the Palm Apartments.

“By implementing this project in this class, I aim to encourage business students to apply the principles of management and solve real-world problems related to sustainability,” said Liou, who was looking for a way to create more hands-on projects into the course curriculum to show students the application of concepts discussed in class.

Last semester, Liou reached out to her colleagues on the Faculty Sustainability Committee, a diverse group across all four colleges that works to promote environmentally-friendly practices on campus, for ideas. The committee suggested aligning the course activity with the committee’s annual Earth Week celebration, this year from April 19-23.

“The goal of these events is to open a dialogue with students, staff and faculty in the UT community about environmental concerns and to investigate ways we can make a difference in our own lives,” said Stephanie Branham, lecturer II of mathematics and a member of the committee.

Each of Liou’s teams had to come up with their own unique method of encouraging residents to work toward conserving more energy and water in their designated residence hall. Students had to identify stakeholders who affect and are affected by the water and energy usage in their hall and detail a conservation strategy plan before taking action during Earth Week.

“When Professor Liou mentioned that we would be doing a sustainability project this semester, I was thrown off, but excited,” said entrepreneurship major Baylee Astin ’22 from Plant City, FL. “In my opinion, as future business professionals it is imperative that we practice sustainability now as students so that we can be educated and fulfill our responsibilities of operating a sustainable business [in] society.”

Picture of a faucet with running water
Each of Liou’s teams had to come up with their own unique method of encouraging residents to work toward conserving more energy and water in their designated residence hall.

Astin, who is the team leader for her group, is working with her team to promote conservation within Austin Hall through social media. Austin residents will be encouraged to share videos of ways to conserve water and energy in their residence hall — such as washing their clothes in cold water, turning off electronics when not in use and not continuously running the sink while brushing teeth — which will be showcased on the team’s Instagram page where people will be able to vote for their favorite. The two overall winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Finance major Claudia Boyd ’22, of Portland, OR, is the team leader for Jenkins Hall. Her group will be holding a raffle, where winners will also receive a gift card and other items by following the team’s social media account.

“The social media campaign will target [water and energy] conservation specifically for the week, but after the raffle has ended, we will continue to share other information outside such as proper waste disposal and reducing overall waste,” said Boyd, whose team goal is to help students realize that being sustainable can be easy and convenient.

“The project has encouraged me to find small ways that my class material can be applied to my life currently,” said Boyd, who also says that the project opened her eyes to number of small changes she can make in her personal life to have an impact on sustainability. “In doing so, the material becomes easier to learn and I find myself significantly more interested in it.”

The teams will be tabling in the Vaughn Center on April 21 from 10-11 a.m., as well as working in the residence halls during Earth Week posting flyers, promoting their work to residents and some working alongside Resident Assistants to get residents involved.

Other events happening during Earth Week are as follows:  

Monday, April 19:

  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Vaughn Center: Student Environmental Groups Tabling
    • Roots & Shoots, the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), MGT 330 class, the Tampa chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), the Environmental Protection Coalition (EPC) 
  • 6 p.m. on Zoom: “Artifishal” Film Viewing and Discussion

Tuesday, April 20

  • 6:30 p.m. on Zoom: Food Technology and Animal Welfare
    • Committee members will collaborate for a round table discussion about the biological, legal and ethical aspects of lab-grown meats such as Impossible brands and others.

Wednesday, April 21

  • 6 p.m. on Zoom: Careers in Sustainability - Round Table Discussion
    • Panelists include:
      • Janet Craig, Founding Partner of Destination Better
      • Danny Gallagher, Hillsborough County Recycling and Waste Reduction Specialist
      • Ross Dickerson, Hillsborough County Environmental Lands Manager
      • Tom Ries, Southeast Biological Services and Restoration Director of Environmental Science Associates 

Thursday, April 22

  • 6 p.m. on Zoom: Guest Speaker: John Dunn, author of  Drying Up: The Freshwater Crisis in Florida

Friday, April 23 (Evening in Plant Park)

  • Recycling is BeaUTiful Art Gala
  • Announcement of the winners of the Earth Week Conservation Challenge

Story by Mallory Culhane '21, journalism major

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