When Ulker Copur was a graduate student at the University of Oregon, she developed a passion for planting trees on her campus. Now, three decades later as an architecture professor at RWU, she has combined her enthusiasm for environmental stewardship with an expertise in architecture and urban planning to instill the value of sustainability in a new generation of students.
To familiarize students with the social, cultural, ecological and technological aspects of sustainable architecture, Professor Copur began teaching a course called Sustainable Paradigms in 2001. Students prepare case studies of local buildings and make design recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption and water runoff. Professor Copur makes the student projects accessible to anyone who’d like to see them because, she says, it’s important to educate others about the importance of going green – and how easy it can be.
It requires a lifestyle change and a bit of sacrifice, she says, but it can be done. She now walks to work and uses public transportation as often as is possible. She has studied roof gardens in Germany and in 2006 helped to develop a master plan for a small town in her native Turkey that is at high risk for earthquakes.
More recently, Professor Copur lent her experience to the Campus Master Planning Committee for RWU 2020, working to preserve the green lawn next to the main entrance along the way – an accomplishment of which she is quite proud. “Things don’t need to be done all at once,” she says. “But at least we can contribute. We’ve been taking a lot of green land, but we can give back to nature too. What we take, we can give.”