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On Instruction Of The First "R" Of Environment

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.401.1 - 4.401.4

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S. Kant Vajpayee

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3560

On Instruction of the First "R" of Environment S. Kant Vajpayee The University of Southern Mississippi


The instruction of environmental issues is no longer limited to science and humanities educators. An increasing number of engineering and engineering technology programs are incorporating courses on environment in their curricula. At The University of Southern Mississippi the introductory course ESC 301: Living in the Environment is one of the several we offer. It is an elective within the university core curriculum. Many engineering technology majors take ESC 301, which I have taught for the last five years. One of the themes of my instruction is the role individuals can play in sustaining the environment. I strongly emphasize the three Rs of the environment (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). Their hierarchy is pointed out too; thus, reduce--the first R--is more effective than the other two. Without undermining the current efforts toward recycling, I encourage my students to appreciate the superior effectiveness of the first R. Often I find them perplexed since the first R is easily construed as giving up the good life. Further explanations clarify that the first R can be practiced also by getting rid of all types of waste, including those due to inefficient design, manufacture, and operation of systems.


The process of globalization is in full swing. While the contributions of trade and technology such as the internet to this process are obvious, most people fail to realize the role of the environment. The enormous growth in industrial activities during the last four decades has been having profound effect on the environment, both in terms of resource depletion and pollution. We in the academia are responding by conducting basic research on environmental issues as well as through instruction. Most colleges and universities offer environment-related courses. This article discusses how I highlight the importance of the first R (reduce) of environment in my teaching.

The course

At The University of Southern Mississippi we offer ESC 301: Living in the Environment as a three-credit-hour elective within the General Education Curriculum. As an introductory course with annual enrollment in hundreds, ESC 301 attracts a variety of majors, including engineering technology. Most enrollees are liberal arts major, while some are non-degree adult students. Besides discussing the strong correlation between human population and environment degradation, we cover most problems of pollution and resource depletion. Sustainable development and a worldview of the environment are the integrating themes. While several relevant topics are covered in ESC 301, I make special efforts to emphasize the first R.

The three Rs

Vajpayee, S. K. (1999, June), On Instruction Of The First "R" Of Environment Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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