Summer & Fall 2018 Registration @RooseveltU Is Underway!

RU students in SUST 220 Water paddle the Chicago River in the Fall 2014

Advising and registration are underway for the Summer and Fall 2018 semesters at Roosevelt. Sign up now to get the classes you want! Spaces are still available in our SUST courses.

If you’re an RU student, (1) look over the Summer and Fall 2016 schedules using this Coursefinder, (2) check your remaining course requirements in Degree Works, and (3) email or call your assigned academic advisor with your planned schedule and any questions you have about your upcoming classes. Your advisor will provide you with an RU Access registration code so you can register. Click on selected titles below for detailed course previews!

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Summer 2018:

SUST 210 Sustainable Future (online, May 29 – July 25, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 360 Writing Urban Nature (Chicago, one-week intensive, May 22-26, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 390 Rooftop Garden (Chicago, May 29 – July 25, Prof. Gerberich)

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Fall 2018:

SUST 210 Sustainable Future (M, 2-4:30pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (online, 8/27-10/20, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 220 Water (T, 2-4:30pm, Staff)
SUST 230 Food (online, 10/22-12/15, Staff)
SUST 240 Waste (W, 2-4:30pm, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 310 Energy & Climate Change (online, 8/27-12/15, Staff)
SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, & Planning (Th, 2-4:30pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (Field Museum, Th 9am-1pm, Prof. Kerbis)
SUST 350 Service & Sustainability (Eden Place Farm, T 12-3pm, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 350 Service & Sustainability (online, 8/27-12/15, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 390 Intro to GIS (M 11-11:50am & W, 11am-1pm, Prof. Pickren)

Click on the links above for detailed course previews!

March is a super busy time of the academic year, but don’t neglect getting in touch with your advisor! It’s the best time to get signed up for classes. And for additional useful info, see this Advising Resources page on Prof. Mike Bryson’s faculty website as well as this Registration page on the RU website.

Hauling straw in the Eden Place Nature Center's pickup truck during a SUST 350 Service workday on Chicago's South Side, Fall 2014

Hauling straw in the Eden Place Nature Center’s pickup truck during a SUST 350 Service workday on Chicago’s South Side, Fall 2014

Posted in courses, education, faculty, Roosevelt, students | 1 Comment

Energy Efficiency Jobs at Verde

by Sarah Tag, SUST alum

Verde logoHello Roosevelt SUST majors and alumni!  Sarah Tag here, RU Sustainability Studies graduate (BA ’15), with a couple of job opportunities that I want to share.  I work at an incredible company called Verde, and we have two full time job openings.  Below is a bit about Verde and the positions open, and I’m also hyperlinking our website so you can take a look at a more complete job description.

The positions are Quality Control Specialist – Comed Program and Quality Control Specialist – Installations.

ComEd Program Quality Control Specialist:

As a ComEd trade ally, Verde provides energy efficiency solutions to businesses around the Chicagoland area.  The ComEd Program Quality Control Specialist will act as a bridge between our sales and operations team, developing a holistic understanding of our customers and our product offerings.  This person will be responsible for taking our analysts’ closed projects and transferring them to our database, taking the proposal and Scope of Work and translating the information into the correct ComEd paperwork or platform, and submitting projects with all appropriate paperwork to ComEd.  The position will also require you to update our database as the project gets approved, and again once the project is completed, resolving any ComEd paperwork issues, staying up to date on the various programs offered by ComEd, and knowing each project as well as the analyst.

Please take a look at the complete job description here.

Installations Quality Control Specialist:

As a ComEd trade ally, Verde provides energy efficiency solutions to businesses around the Chicagoland area.  The Installations Quality Control Specialist will act as a bridge between our sales and operations team, developing a holistic understanding of our customers and our product offerings.  In this position you’ll be responsible for problem solving issues on the job site, making recommendations, and building a map for complicated projects to guide the installation crew.  The position will also be a point of contact for the installation crew and operations, conduct pre-inspections and post-inspections with ComEd, and troubleshoot advanced lighting controls.

Please take a look at the complete job description here.

Posted in alumni, energy, green jobs, Roosevelt, students | 1 Comment

One Earth Film Festival, March 2nd-11th: 30+ Films at 50+ Locations

The “One Earth Film Festival is the Midwest’s premier environmental film festival, creating opportunities for understanding climate change, sustainability and the power of human involvement. We showcase top-issue, thought-provoking environmental films and lead audiences in interactive post-film discussions focused on solutions.”

The Festival is showing environmental-focused films throughout the Chicago region through mid-March. Entry is free, with a $7 suggested donation. You can check out the full film schedule here:

SUST/SOC alum Diana Ramirez (BA ’17) is a coordinator for the festival and has let us know that they are looking for additional volunteers to help out. RU students: this is a great opportunity to meet some folks while putting another line on your resume. Keep in mind that meeting people is the best way to find a job when you graduate!

Let SUST Prof Graham Pickren know if you’re interested in volunteering and he can connect you with Diana. You can reach him at gpickren[at]

Posted in activities, alumni, arts, events, humanities, students

Chicago’s True Nature: Black History Month Event at RU Next Tuesday 2/27

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
4pm –6pm

Roosevelt University
Sullivan Room
Auditorium Building 2nd Floor (AUD 232)
430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605


You’re Invited to a Celebration of Black History Month!

The Chicago area is known as a crossroads of diverse cultural groups and ideas. Less commonly known, is the biological diversity of our region. Varied ecosystems are home to native plant and animal species thriving within the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

With nearly 70,000 sprawling acres of wild and wonderful wilderness, the Forest Preserves is a regional asset which improves our quality of life, but not everyone is aware of or has the opportunity to enjoy the benefits that come from spending time outside. The Forest Preserves and its partners recognize the challenge of ensuring that everyone has access to nature and are working to better engage communities of color and grow public stewardship of nature.

Please join us to hear about both the historical and contemporary connections between environmentalism and the African American experience and how we can work together to protect nature and ensure that it is welcoming and accessible to all.

A panel discussion will follow thought-provoking presentations by Brian McCammack, professor at Lake Forest College and author of the new book Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago, Veronica Kyle, Chicago Outreach Director with Faith in Place, and Arnold Randall, General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Kimberly N. Ruffin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English at Roosevelt University, will act as moderator.

Light refreshments will be served. Hardback copies of Professor McCammack’s book Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago will be available for sale for $40 each (cash or check).

The event is free but space is limited, and registration is required. For directions and transportation information please visit

This event is co-sponsored by Roosevelt University and the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Speaker Bios and Abstracts:

Veronica Kyle directs all of Faith in Place’s Chicago outreach programs, with a particular passion for those related to Sustainable Food and Land Use. She is responsible for the creation of the Migration & Me Program which came about as the result of the realized concern that there were not enough people of color, mainly brown and black people, who were visibly engaged in available extracurricular outdoor activities, stewardship, and Earth care.

Brian McCammack is the author of Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago (Harvard University Press, 2017) and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Lake Forest College, where he teaches courses on environmental history and politics. Landscapes of Hope recently won the 2018 George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book in environmental history from the American Society for Environmental History. In Landscapes of Hope, he examines the deep connections to nature that black Chicagoans forged in the first half of the twentieth century. The Forest Preserves of Cook County were particularly notable in this regard because African Americans not only sought out leisure there despite racial segregation and intimidation, but the labor of young black men in the Civilian Conservation Corps also helped improve and even build areas like the Skokie Lagoons.

Arnold Randall is the General Superintendent of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Forest Preserves of Cook County, established over a century ago, is one of the oldest and largest urban conservation districts in the United States, managing nearly 70,000 acres of diverse habitat across Cook County and offering recreation and education programs for audiences of all ages and from all walks of life. But preserving nature today in the nation’s second largest county comes with its own particular challenges – a lack of funding, climate change, and an urban population often out of touch with nature. The Forest Preserves is actively working with partners to provide a variety of programs that link diverse and urban populations with nature, including a Conservation Corps job training program and robust camping program at five new campgrounds.

Kim Ruffin is an Associate Professor of English at Roosevelt University, author of Black on Earth: African-American Ecoliterary Traditions (U. of Georgia Press, 2010), and nature-loving Certified Forest Therapy Guide.

Posted in biodiversity, cities, community, ecology, education, events, faculty, humanities, parks and public land, Roosevelt, social justice, wildlife

Summer Opportunities For SUST Students

It’s the time of year to get in your applications for internships and fellowships! The Chicagoland areas has so many opportunities for our students to get involved, so don’t wait until the semester is over to find something productive to do! Internships are key ways to meet people in the field and build networks, and those networks are often entryways into jobs. I’ve put together a list of internships, both paid and unpaid, and I encourage all of our students to pursue one or more of these opportunities.

Undergraduate Research Fellows engage in a formal 10-week summer course that trains students in the scientific process by completing an independent research project, including question development, study design, data collection and analysis, and final presentation to several audiences.  Students work directly with individual mentors who will advise and guide them through the entire process. Graduating seniors and recent graduates may not apply.

Internships in the following divisions at the zoo: Urban Wildlife Institute Nature Boardwalk; Green Team Sustainability; Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology; Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology; Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes; Communications (graphic design, public relations, video/photo); Development and Events; Horticulture (garden curation)

  • The Field Museum of Natural History

Women in Science internships (paid) Due March 12

Also check their Careers page for additional summer opportunities

Additional opportunites:

If you know of any additional opportunities, please post in the comments!



Posted in uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fall 2018 Course Preview for SUST 390 – Introduction to Geographic Information Science

The Sustainability Studies program is offering an exciting new course in Fall 2018 on Geographic Information Science (GIS). GIS is a software application that allows us to visual data, ask questions, and conduct analysis so that we can better understand relationships and patterns in our world. Everything is geographical – literally everything happens somewhere. This means that GIS is used in every field, from businesses trying to figure out the best new location for a new store, to public health officials trying to identify patterns in the spreading of disease, to conservationists looking to map critical resources for protection. And of course, many of the apps on your smart phone are using and producing geographic data that help us in our daily lives! Perhaps most importantly for RU students, job growth for folks with GIS skills is predicted to be higher than the national average.

Students in the course will be exposed to the rapidly growing world of spatial analysis and cartography using the industry’s leading software tool, ArcGIS. Through a combination of lecture and hands-on work in a state-of-the-art computer lab, we’ll learn

  • about the types of geographic data and the theories underlying GIS
  • the principles of cartography (scale, resolution, projection, etc)
  • how to store, analyze and interpret spatial data
  • how to make maps
  • how to apply GIS to create apps

Because this is a course in the Sustainability Studies program, the majority of our GIS applications will focus on environmental and social questions. However, students will have the opportunity to develop their own GIS projects, so students from all fields are welcome in the course.

As an example of how GIS works, consider the following image:


Data from different sources (layers) can be combined so that specific questions can be asked about their relationships. Let’s say we wanted to identify a suitable location for a new park in the city of Los Angeles. We could combine data about population characteristics, land use, and the presence of toxic releases and then use GIS analysis tools to refine our search. Consider the image below, which shows a screenshot from an ArcGIS project on ESRI’s website that deals with this question:


The green squares indicate places where a park would serve an underprivileged area using vacant land that is far from toxic releases. The ability to inform land use decision-making is just one of the many useful applications of GIS that we will engage with in the course.

Course Registration Information

  • Title/number: SUST 390 Introduction to GIS (section 01)
  • Semester offered: Fall 2018
  • Location: Auditorium Building, Room 1011
  • Day/time: Monday lecture 11-11:50, Wednesday lab 11-1pm
  • Start date: 30 Aug 2018
  • Lab fee: $25
  • Pre-req: Undergraduate level ENG 102 Minimum Grade of C-



Posted in courses, education, faculty, green jobs, Roosevelt, students | 1 Comment

The Dangers of Working in Waste

SUST co-founder and former Roosevelt University professor Carl Zimring, now professor of sustainability studies at the Pratt Institute in NYC, published this powerful op-ed in the Friday 2/9 online edition of the NY Times. In his essay, “A Waste Worker Dies Every Day,” Zimring links the ever-present hazards faced by waste industry front-line workers — still one of America’s most dangerous ways to make a living — with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and the ongoing quest for environmental and racial justice in our country. We repost the first and last sections of the op-ed here.

On a Saturday morning in 2013 in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, an 18-year-old recycling worker, Luis Camarillo, was loading materials into a truck when the vehicle’s compactor crushed him. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Mr. Camarillo’s death, while seemingly a freak accident, was in fact not unusual: In the United States, a sanitation worker is killed every day.

The hazards facing people in this line of work have a long history — they inspired the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike of 1968. That walkout was set off in part by the deaths of two Memphis sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, who were crushed to death by the hydraulic press of the truck they were riding on one rainy winter evening.

The strike, whose organizers demanded higher pay, the recognition of the workers’ union and safer working conditions, is often associated with the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis the day after delivering his “Mountaintop” speech in support of striking sanitation workers. But when we think about the strike, we should also remember that half a century after his death, the work Dr. King was focused on in the last days of his life remains unfinished. A ProPublica investigation published in January detailed the grueling and unsafe working conditions faced by many of today’s private waste-management workers, who risk their lives daily for very little pay.

Zimring concludes his essay thus:

Fifty years after the Memphis strike, workers continue to risk their lives across the United States to handle garbage and recycling. The solution in 1968 was collective bargaining, and it is the solution today as well. The higher wages, safer equipment and health coverage provided to the employees in the public garbage hauling sector show what is possible. Negotiating collective bargaining agreements will reduce the risks that killed Mr. Camarillo, and Mr. Cole and Mr. Walker before him.

At the conclusion of his final speech, Dr. King asked, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” It’s time to ask that question again.

To read the essay in its entirety, see this link on the NY Times website:

Posted in ethics, faculty, history, news, policy, recycling, social justice, waste | 1 Comment