May 30, 2013
by Laura Pochodylo '14
As part of the Alternatives to Consumerism course, Knox College students educated residents in Galesburg neighborhoods about the benefits of swapping a traditional-style light bulb for a newer, more efficient LED bulb.
Students traveled in groups for the community action project, giving away LED light bulbs in exchange for old ones.
Knox junior John Bergholz, one of the students in the class, said he was pleased with the way people responded to the project.
"I was surprised that the people we interacted with were really open to listening to what we had to say, and caring enough about the issue to actually participate and do the light bulb exchange," said Bergholz, a native of Oak Park, Illinois, who is double-majoring in anthropology and sociology and creative writing.
Rika Stoller, a creative writing major, also enjoyed participating in the light bulb exchange and spreading the message of energy efficiency.
"We were able to give extremely efficient and long-lasting light bulbs to people who probably couldn't afford them or never really thought about buying them," said Stoller, a junior from Marengo, Iowa.
Knox faculty member Tim Kasser, professor of psychology and creator of the Alternatives to Consumerism class, included weekly community action projects such as the light bulb exchange as part of the coursework.
"One of the things I am trying to do is try to engage the students in acts as citizens, as opposed to [as] consumers," Kasser said.
"[The class] is an exploration of the different ways that people have come up with to live in a happier and more sustainable way than what is provided by typical consumer society," he added.
Bergholz said one of the highlights of the exchange was working within the larger community that surrounds Knox.
"We are trying to be closer to Galesburg and interact more with the place where we live," Bergholz said. "It was really interesting to interact with people who live here and know about Knox students, or know there's a college here, but never really get a chance to interact."