Updating our Faculty and Staff on Fair Trade

Today we TrailBlazers met with our staff and faculty at Penn State Brandywine to update them about Fair Trade, what our campus has been doing, what tasks we still hope to accomplish, and what kind of community involvement we need to further the movement. It was a successful meeting, and we were happy with the kinds of questions asked, like how can Fair Trade be implemented into classes, how do we go from education and awareness to action, where do we see our campus a few years down the line, and so on. The meeting gave us a lot to think about in terms of sparking passion in the community and keeping the momentum going.

Our hope is to make the Fair Trade movement on campus not only a student initiative, but one that brings the faculty, staff, and administration into the fold as well. We discussed how student clubs on campus have been mostly student oriented, and while a Fair Trade club is a good idea, we want to include everyone on campus. In essence, by bringing Fair Trade to Penn State Brandywine, we hope to change the culture in a positive, more communal way, so that the student body and the faculty, staff, and administration, have something in common to gather around.

That kind of togetherness is already starting to bud, and from the meeting today, it is easy to see how passionate our community is becoming. It’s hard to say where this will be in several years, even a year, but I can’t think of a better rallying point than Fair Trade.

-Contributed by Sarah DeMartino, Fair Trade Intern

Lunch, with a Fair Trade dessert

Today, the Fair Trade TrailBlazers were joined by some special guests for a great lunch and conversation – Spring 2012 Laboratory for Civic Engagement Communications Intern Zanya Stephenson, Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, and donor David Rosenberg.  As members of the first Rosenberg Civic Engagement Course, the TrailBlazers shared their experiences learning about Fair Trade, connecting with people and organizations outside of the campus to inform their learning, and the collaboration and leadership necessary to get approved for Fair Trade University status.  The students also discussed how to sustain and grow these efforts to continue education and awareness of the Fair Trade movement.

And we have to make mention of dessert, homemade by Dr. Guertin – Fair Trade chocolate chip brownies, made with Fair Trade certified sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips!
TrailBlazers with the Laboratory for Civic Engagement

Pictured above, front row, left to right: Sara Neville, Zanya Stephenson, Sarah DeMartino.  Back row, left to right: Chancellor Wisniewska, Louis Donaghue, David Rosenberg, Dr. Laura Guertin, Bryan Marton.


Spreading the Campaign with a Little Help from ENGL 419

During our Fair Trade journey, we worked with two students from the English 419 class, Jason Mandell and Jeff Beecher. Both of these students were very dedicated in helping our push for being a Fair Trade University campus. Both Jason and Jeff attended the Divine Chocolate seminar by Amanda White.  On May 17th and 18th, we had our Fair Trade T-Shirt Exchange and we asked Jeff what he thought about the event. Jeff responded, “The exchange was very productive. I liked how the word got out to students and they understood what was going on and really took a liking to it.” Jeff also mentioned that, “The swap was beneficial for our campus and it was very organized by the students and Dr. Guertin.”

Then we caught up with Jason and asked him more about Fair Trade. We asked him questions such as: what are your thoughts about Fair Trade,what has it been like to write about it, and would he agree that Fair Trade would benefit for our campus? Jason enthusiastically responded: “It’s a very interesting concept that can result in a beneficial cause, and form a trade between power countries and developing countries, a way to bridge the gap.” And when we asked if Fair Trade University status would it be good for our campus, Jason responded, ” Yes, it would be very good for our campus. We are able to educate the student and faculty on the cause and why it is beneficial to our community and campus and could spread to other PSU campus’ and help the Fair Trade movement.”

Thanks again for the help from Jason Mandell and Jeff Beecher of Professor Donna Talis’ English 419 class for their press release, recruitment letter, and overall support for Fair Trade.

Contributed by Joe Sweeny


Presenting at EURECA 2012

The Fair Trade TrailBlazers presented a poster at the campus undergraduate research symposium EURECA on April 17, 2012.  The abstract and poster were a collaborative effort, with TrailBlazer Bryan Marton (pictured below) representing the group at EURECA.  The text of the abstract is included in this post.  Click here to view a PDF of the poster.
Bryan at EURECA

Commuting to the Grounds of Fair Trade University Status: Achieving Leadership in Penn State’s Fair Trade Movement

Bryan Marton, Sarah DeMartino, Louis Donaghue, Stephen Hurwitz, Sara Neville, John Ramaika, Joseph Sweeny, Dr. Laura Guertin (Faculty Advisor)
Environmental Inquiry Program, bam408@psu.edu, szd5130@psu.edu, lfd5019@psu.edu, smh198@psu.edu, sen136@psu.edu, jjr5072@psu.edu, jas5763@psu.edu, guertin@psu.edu

Fair Trade is a global social movement for producers, consumers, communities, and the environment.  The purchase of Fair Trade certified products serves to protect the planet, build sustainable business, empower women, support education, fight poverty, and provide health care.  Universities are strategically situated to harness the power of higher education to raise awareness about the benefits of Fair Trade to small-scale producers and workers. Schools can be honored with Fair Trade University status by embedding Fair Trade principles within administrative policy and the social fabric of the academic community.  Fair Trade University (FTU) status is appropriate for Penn State Brandywine, with the institution’s land-grant mission and commitment to global issues.  Designated a FTU allows the campus to solidify local connections with the nation’s first Fair Trade Town (Media, PA) and first Fair Trade public high school (Penncrest).

Students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies (ENVST 400W) set out to complete the process for becoming a Fair Trade University.  Students were required to consult with various offices on campus, including business services and the bookstore.  Students needed to draft documents for the FTU proposal, including a resolution, procurement policy, and future plans for campus academic and extra-curricular integration.  No textbook or curricular materials existed for the students to work from; the process to become a FTU required much critical thinking, inquiry, networking, and leadership.

After organizing two Fair Trade events and presenting to various campus audiences, the students have submitted the Fair Trade University application for review.  Penn State Brandywine looks forward to joining six other universities designated with FTU status and being the first Penn State campus with this honor.  Future goals include expanding campus student involvement and sharing the process and products with other Penn State campuses and universities, being a leader locally and nationally.

Fair Trade course recognized as first Rosenberg Civic Engagement Course

ENVST 400W, Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies, has been selected by Penn State Brandywine’s Laboratory for Civic Engagement as the first Rosenberg Civic Engagement Course.  The course focuses on the interdisciplinary subject of Fair Trade.

To honor and recognize the significant contribution David and Marjorie Rosenberg have made to assist with coordinating and further expanding the civic engagement efforts at Penn State Brandywine, the campus will identify one course each semester (fall and spring) and designate that course the Rosenberg Civic Engagement Course.  The course goes above-and-beyond a standard campus civic engagement offering and challenges students to the highest levels, aligning with the Laboratory for Civic Engagement’s mission of citizenship, scholarship, and leadership.  The course is selected by the Laboratory Coordinator and the Rosenberg Professor for Leadership and Innovation.

Dr. Laura Guertin, Associate Professor of Earth Science and instructor for ENVST 400W, is thrilled with the honor.  “The students certainly have earned this recognition,” she states.  “This course demands that students step up as leaders in moving forward the effort to establish Penn State Brandywine as a Fair Trade University.  Students have been in conversations with staff on campus, alumni through email and Skype, and have hosted speakers from Fair Trade Towns Media and Fair Trade Towns USA.  The students have developed mission and vision statements of Fair Trade on campus, and they will be hosting two Fair Trade events later this semester.”  Dr. Guertin encourages everyone to come out for the Fair Trade t-shirt exchange and seminar by Divine Chocolate.

“The students refer to themselves as the Fair Trade Trailblazers,” says Guertin.  “And I couldn’t agree more.  Not only are they challenging themselves as leaders and engaged citizens, but by being recognized as members of the first Rosenberg Course, they are setting the bar for future student learning and civic engagement on campus and in the local-to-global community.”