Avila University: Teaching Sustainability

As part of Avila University’s First Year College Assignment initiative, all incoming students are required to read the same book over the summer and submit an essay about it before classes begin. This years’ book was The Boy who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Current of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.  

Kamkwamba was born in Wimbe, Malawi in a village without electricity or running water. As a boy, he came across a book with designs to build a windmill.  He got the idea that a windmill could provide his village with these utilities and change his family’s life forever. Kamkwamba taught himself how to build a windmill from science textbooks. Even as people in his village mocked him, he continued to work on developing his idea until his windmill was built and brought power to his community. 

In addition to the assignment, students participated in Rain Barrel Workshops early in October where they assembled 28 rain barrels. Bridging The Gap was honored to provide the parts and instruction on how to assemble the rain barrels to the students. Avila kept three rain barrels for use on their campus. The remaining 25 were donated to the following organizations: 


Boys Grow

Project RALLY 

Swope Ridge Geriatric Center 

Jerusalem Farm   

Gregory Ridge Neighborhood Association 

William Kamkwamba delivered the 2018 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture in the Goppert Theatre at Avila University on October 24 following a panel discussion about sustainability. Thomas Schlange, BTG Recycling Center Operations Manager participated in this discussion along with representatives from Jerusalem Farm, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and The Environmental Protection Agency.