Students in New Course to Create Sustainable Solutions in Fairfax

October 31, 2014

I am very pleased to announce a new course for Spring 2015, that will engage Mason students in the community in a whole new way: social enterprise.  Historically, solutions to community challenges have been the role of the non-profit and government sectors.  But what if we created solutions that were profit-generating, and integrated efforts across local government, nonprofits and the private sector to make them more transformative and sustainable over time?

native plant rescueNCLC 475: Social Innovation in Action, Section 007

In this section of NCLC 475: Social Innovation in Action, taught by myself (Wendy Wagner), students will work with the City of Fairfax Office of Sustainability and local groups around the city (such as high schools and community centers) to reduce waste through composting programs. As a course focused on social enterprise solutions, these projects will have the added goal of being profit-generating for the community organizations and schools who do them.

Mon/Wed 10:30am-1:10

Mondays we will meet in the classroom, with local experts as both guest speakers and consultants to the student teams.  Wednesdays, students will be on-site in the community, gathering research and first-hand experience in order to generate and test their innovative solutions.  This is an NCC Capstone Course, so students will engage in facilitated discussions assessing and reflecting on their own competence in the skills needed to be successful professionals and citizens.

Community Partner: City of Fairfax Environment & Sustainability

If Fairfax residents learned to compost, they would reduce their waste by 60% and save the city nearly one million dollars per year.  How can we accomplish this?  Students will: learn about the logistics of composting by establishing a program in Fairfax community; research successful composting programs in other cities across the country; and propose/test a sustainable plan to engage local schools, community centers and other community groups in regular composting.

For more information:


Posted by: Wendy Wagner,
Assistant Professor, New Century College
SAIL, Director of Community Engagement

Course supported by the Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Action and Integrative Learning in New Century College.

Mason Service Corps Class: Community Partner Panel

March 31, 2014

For those of you who haven’t heard of it already, Mason Service Corps is a neat program we run here at the CLCE office. It’s a really great way to satisfy some experiential learning credits while also having a say in how you spend it. Here’s how it works: you pick what community organization you want to volunteer for over the semester (or we help you find one), complete 45 hours for one EL credit or 90 hours for two EL credits, and take NCLC 294 that meets once a week for an hour and a half!

Our MSC class this semester is partnering up with some really incredible community organizations, and we had the privilege of hosting them this past class in a discussion panel. We had two guests, Paula Gaudino from the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, and Kerry Tousignant from Bethany House of Northern Virginia.

Paula Gaudino and Kerry Tousignant

Paula Gaudino and Kerry Tousignant

Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation Food Forest

February 19, 2014

When I mention the Innovation Food Forest, most people don’t know what I’m talking about. However once I say “All of those bushy green plants along the walkway beside Innovation Hall,” usually people know exactly what I mean.

Russian Comfrey in IFF, August 18th, 2013

I myself slowly became familiar with the Innovation Food Forest and the famous bushy green plants (which, by the way, are called Russian Comfrey). Finding out that it was actually a permaculture garden, naturally I jumped at the chance to volunteer as part of my service learning hours for Sustainable World (NCLC 210).

What is permaculture you might ask? It’s a method of gardening that strategically groups plants that will foster each other’s growth, whether it’s by attracting certain pollinators or enriching the soil with vital nutrients. In the concept of a food forest, a garden or “forest” will eventually be able to sustain itself with little to no care.

Read the rest of this entry »