This semester, UNCG students faced the good, the bad and the ugly of the global garment industry.

All incoming freshmen read “Where am I Wearing?” by Kelsey Timmerman, which looks at the sobering realities of the garment industry worldwide. Throughout the semester, they engaged in discussion during class, had an opportunity to hear Timmerman speak on campus and attended documentary screenings about the working conditions and economic impact of the garment industry.

In November, 150 students took their experience to the next level. They wrapped up their book study by attending a two-day capstone conference put on by the Office of Global Engagement and Lloyd International Honors College on behalf of the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan.

“We want students to deepen their undunderstanding of both the history and the possible futures of the local and global garment industry,” said Dr. Sarah Krive, program faculty chair.

Grant Harris, a freshman studying information systems and supply chain management, enjoyed Timmerman’s book and attended to learn more about the local ties to the garment industry.

“It sounded very intriguing,” he said. “My own family worked in the Greensboro textile industry in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Over the course of the two days, students discussed the garment industry both at home and abroad, researched the lives of Cone Mill Village workers and residents and learned the history of the Cone family’s contributions to Greensboro and the world. They also discussed the pros and cons of “conscious consumerism” and learned about local entrepreneurs who are working for a sustainable future.

The first day was held at Revolution Mill, a space donated by the Self-Help Corporation, and included in-depth and meaningful discussions about the garment industry and its history.

The second day was devoted to community engagement. Harris visited a “dirt-to-shirt” T-shirt factory – T.S. Designs – in Burlington, where shirts are made from cotton grown and harvested in the Carolinas.

“It was nice to see clothing being made in America,” Harris said, adding that he especially enjoyed hearing Eric Henry, president of T.S. Designs.

“He was a really interesting guy – very innovative,” he said.

Other students toured the Greensboro Historical Museum and Elsewhere living museum in downtown Greensboro. A fourth group completed a driving tour of the Cone Mill Villages.

Afterwards, all participants were treated to a “next steps” Global Engagement Fair staffed by numerous campus and community partners as well as academic departments. To wrap it all up, the students returned to campus that afternoon to discuss what they learned over the weekend.

“I gained a new appreciation for the modern textile industry, both domestic and international, and those who are involved with it,” Harris said.

For more information about the planning for next year’s conference, contact Steve Flynn in the Global Engagement Office, stflynn@uncg.edu.

 

Story by Jeanie Groh, University Relations