Community Engagement in Two Fashion Merchandising and Apparel Design Curriculum Courses to Motivate Students to Learn about Sustainability Concepts
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The first national meeting of textile and clothing professors took place in Madison, Wisconsin in June 1959. With a mission to advance excellence in education, scholarship and innovation, and their global applications, the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) is a professional and educational association of scholars, educators, and students in the textile, apparel, and merchandising disciplines in higher education.
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Learning about any concept, including sustainability, in the abstract is not very motivating. An elective and required course assigned classwork with nonprofit and business partners to motivate students to learn about sustainability. The elective course focused on textile waste, taught spring of 2015, partnered with Goodwill Industries to innovate new ideas to grow into business opportunities for unsold donated apparel and textiles. Student assignments were a technical feasibility, economic feasibility, poster presentation, and business plan to remake or remarket Goodwill's discarded and unsold apparel and textiles. A second course, Merchandise Planning, was taught in spring of 2016 and partnered with one nonprofit Water is Life Kenya and two women owned businesses that sell jewelry and accessories. Student assignments were product pricing and a 6-month merchandise plan. Student work and media coverage of the community engagement collaborations in the two courses show engaged students that demonstrate understanding of sustainability concepts.