Hiram College

Fiat lux

e·duce ēˈd(y)o͞os 1. To yield forth (as something latent); 2. To bring out of darkness into light

The human need for narrative permeates every stage of life. Even throughout our cynical young adult years, nothing feels quite so good a wise old sage sitting us down by a campfire with the promise of imparting a valuable life lesson. So imagine my delight when the professor of my freshman colloquium – the wise old sage in this scenario – forewent his usual lecture in favor of telling the class a story:

An Old Man and his Student spent many long hours in the woods together. One day, after an especially difficult hike that left both men exhausted and in need of a rest, the Student asked whether they might pause for a moment so he could regain his strength. The Old Man gestured toward a clearing, and the Student went to sit without a second thought. Unbeknownst to him, a white-tailed deer was resting in the shadows nearby and leapt from the clearing as soon as she saw the young man approach. The shock of the discovery sent him reeling to the ground in surprise. It appeared as if the deer had exploded into existence in the flash of that moment and yet she had been lying there the whole time, sitting just far enough outside of the Student’s sight to remain unacknowledged.

The concept that The Old Man helped his pupil discover that day was one integral to the art of nature interpretation: be mindful of the “blind-spots,” those gaps in perception that communicate important information about the world around you. If one looks for it, the world is written with a million tales: comings and goings, life and death, the commotion of a million relationships. All it takes to uncover these secret dramas is a shrewd eye and a willingness to ask questions.

My professor’s story returns to me whenever I cross campus on the way to class.

Although no deer have appeared from the shadows so far, I am compelled to wonder what else sits in the blind spots just beyond the reach of my eye.

Hiram campus

It’s been over a month since classes resumed at Hiram College. Students and faculty alike have settled into the standard, comfortable, sleep deprived routine of college life.

The 2014-15 SEED Scholars (Sustainability, Environment, and Engaged Design) faced the added challenge of deciding upon a common theme to direct our efforts over the coming months. There are so many interesting topics that pull at our curiosity: from water conservation to energy efficiency, the built environment to native landscaping. We decided to explore a common thread that runs through all of them: the unconscious ways that environments shape us and that we shape environments.

Our responsibility as SEEDS is similar to that of storytellers. As authors of the ‘Discovery Blog,’ and students in our own right, we must aspire to be simultaneously the Old Man and the Student.

To be educ-ated connotes more than simply receiving a diploma and shaking the President’s hand on graduation day. We must work toward illuminating the blind spots of our awareness and telling the stories that make the invisible visible.

Living on a rural campus surrounded by miles of soybeans and corn, it can be hard to see how our actions affect the world at large. As human influence on the natural world has expanded in scale, our blind spots have taken on global significance. This year we will dig deeper into the untold stories of daily life at Hiram, which starts by asking a few questions:

How do we utilize our living space?
How do the resources we depend on to survive (water, energy, materials) become available to us?
What are the environmental effects of those resource’s extraction, use, and disposal?
How do we interact with the natural community on campus, particularly plants and animals?
As we investigate these questions through observation, independent research and conversation with the many stakeholders along the way, we will be sharing what we find. So, stay tuned as the story unfolds!

Campfires may be included.