Help RU Grow Greener in 2016-17!

For RU students gearing up and getting ready for the 2016-17 academic year, there are many golden opportunities on campus to contribute to RU’s sustainability efforts and help our university grow greener. Here are just a few of interest:

  • The SUST Program is seeking a Sustainability Studies Associate student worker, a 12-hour/week position that starts on Aug 29th. See info and application guidelines here. Open to undergrad and grad students; SUST majors strongly encouraged to apply.
  • All students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administrators are welcome to attend any meeting of RU’s university-wide Environmental Sustainability Committee. Today’s gathering on Aug 15th is in WB 1214 at 1pm. Email Rebecca Quesnell ( to RSVP or get Zoom info for online access. Stay tuned for announcements of future meetings this coming year!
  • RU students can apply to the Department of Physical Resources’ two Environmental Sustainability Associate positions for 2016-17. See the Career Resources page on RU’s website to apply.
  • The student organization RU Green will be revving up again this fall to brainstorm service projects and sustainability activism priorities. All RU students are welcome and encouraged to participate! Just contact Yessenia Balcazar ( for more info.
  • Still looking to finalize your Fall 2016 course schedule? Check out the SUST offerings here and get in touch with your advisor.
Rebecca Quesnell (BA '15) and Maria Cancilla (SUST major) work on the STARS assessment project in the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, est. 2015

Rebecca Quesnell (BA ’15) and Maria Cancilla (SUST major & STARS intern) work on the STARS assessment project in the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, 2015

Posted in courses, education, green jobs, Roosevelt, students

Register @RooseveltU for Fall 2016 Classes

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

Spots are still open in great classes for the Fall 2016 semester at Roosevelt. If you’re an RU student, (1) look over the fall schedule using this coursefinder, (2) check your remaining course requirements, 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 answer your questions and 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 Fall 2016:

ACP 101 Our Sustainable Future (MW 11am-12:15pm, Prof. Bryson)* — full
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (MW 11am-12:15pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (8-week online, 8/29-10/21, Prof. Jones)§
SUST 220 Water (T 2-4:30pm, Prof. Hoffman)
SUST 230 Food (14-week online, 9/12-12/10, Prof. Gerberich)
SUST 310 Energy & Climate Change (W 2-4:30pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 320 Sprawl (14-week online, 9/12-12/10, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (Field Museum, Th 9am-1pm, Prof. Kerbis)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (8-week online, 10/29-12/17, Prof. Jones)§
SUST 350 Service & Sustainability (Eden Place Farm, T 12-3pm, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 390 Environmental Literature & Rhetoric (TTh 12:30-1:45pm, Prof. Cryer)

* First Year Seminars are open to new full-time undergrads with 12 or fewer hours in transfer credit.
§ These 8-week accelerated online courses are open to all students and synced with the Flex-Track adult degree calendar. They may be taken back-to-back.

Notable Sustainability-related Courses in other Departments:

POS 343 Urban Environmental Justice (W 2-4:30pm, Prof. Barratt; includes travel component to Vancouver during Thanksgiving Break)
REES 351 Intro to Real Estate Finance (W 6-8:30pm, Prof. Barnett; the first undergrad offering of RU’s Real Estate program)

If you’re still working on your fall schedule, August is the perfect time for 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.

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

WB Rooftop Garden: 2016 Season Update

SUST alum (BPS ’16) and Environmental Sustainability Associate Tiffany Mucci reports on the productivity of RU’s 5th-floor rooftop garden at our Chicago Campus Wabash Building.

Roosevelt University Green Campus

We, the Wabash Rooftop Gardeners, are pleased to report that despite an admittedly late start to our 2016 growing season, our plants are healthy, robust, and productive. This summer’s crops consist of a wide variety of fresh herbs and greens which, as of last week, are being used in our own Dining Center’s culinary delights. So far, our 2016-season harvests have weighed in at a total of 3.10 pounds.

Tending to the garden, RU style. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016) Tending to the garden, RU style. (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

Currently, our most productive plants are the Italian large leaf basil and arugula. Like basil, arugula is used in many Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Though it isn’t considered an herb, its tender and mildly spicy leaves add a pop of flavor to salads, sandwiches, pizza, and more. Other herbaceous pickings that are making their way from our garden to your plates are dill, parsley, oregano, cilantro, mint, and lime basil (a sweetly aromatic variety…

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Sustainability and Science at the 2016 SENCER Summer Institute

Sencer_LogoThis past week, Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus and the Department of Biological, Chemical, and Physical Sciences hosted the 2016 SENCER Summer Institute — an annual gathering of educators devoted to exploring and sharing ways to make science, math, and STEM-related courses more interactive, engaging, and socially grounded. As noted on the conference website,

The central theme of this year’s Institute is transformation. Transformation is expressed throughout several facets of our work this year, from the continued progress in our SENCER, SENCER-ISE and Engaging Mathematics projects to our pursuit of opportunities emerging from new partnerships and initiatives, and our organization being profiled in a recent USC monograph by Adrianna Kezar and Sean Gehrke as a Community of Transformation in STEM reform.

The major aims for this year’s program include conversations about the STEM reform ecosystem, examples of SENCER work on campus and of the SENCER approach in real-world problems, and assessment of SENCER work. Other topics that will be covered in this year’s program include Civic Intersections of STEM and Humanities; Communities of Transformation: Maximizing Impact; Public Engagement with Science; Foregrounding Quantitative Literacy in Civic Life; Science and Technology for Social Good; and Leading Change: Aligning Institutional and Personal Priorities.

Now in its 16th year, SENCER is a National Science Foundation-funded program that has reinvigorated STEM education in K-12 and college classrooms by creating an extraordinary community for faculty to develop and exchange ideas and strategies for connecting the learning of science and math to social problems and challenges, real-world scenarios, and (last but not least) environmental issues, including those related to the sustainability of natural ecosystems and human communities.

SENCER Inst at RU 2016-07-31 final updated_Page_01Several Roosevelt faculty gave presentations and conducted workshops at this year’s Institute, which commenced last Thursday and wraps up today, Auguse 1st. On the program Sunday were SUST professor Mike Bryson, current SUST major Maria Cancilla, and SUST alum (BA ’15) and RU’s Sustainable Operations Coordinator Rebecca Quesnell, who collaborated on a 50-minute session entitled “Transformative Sustainability: STARS, SENCER, and the Future of the University” (pdf, 3MB).

Representing faculty, staff, and students at RU, the presentation team focused on the close relationship between RU’s recent sustainability efforts and the values/aims of SENCER pedagogy:

At the same time that SENCER has inspired civic engagement and pedagogical innovation in STEM undergraduate education, colleges and universities have been engaged in a sustainability revolution. This session describes Roosevelt University’s journey since 2010 to green its curriculum, buildings, operations, and community relations — efforts which culminated in the development of a Strategic Sustainability Plan and Roosevelt’s first STARS rating in 2015 from AASHE.

In line with SENCER’s approach of students learning through applied, real world contexts, RU’s sustainability work has been student-driven from the outset. In this presentation, Roosevelt students, staff, and faculty will discuss how the academic and operational wings of a university can collaborate on campus sustainability initiatives across a broad range of topics. We further suggest that aligning the goals and methods of SENCER with campus sustainability endeavors has transformative potential for students, faculty, and other institutional stakeholders.

Mike Bryson and Beeka Quesnell at SENCER 2016

The STARS team’s afternoon session was well-attended and generated lots of fruitful and enthusiastic discussion, as hallmark of SENCER gatherings (which in this case included ~250 people from across the US). Clearly lots of folks see the numerous connections between teaching science/math in a civically-engaged way and working to make our campuses and communities more sustainable. These two academic revolutions are complementary, and the relationships created at SENCER may lead to productive collaborations among institutions in the future.

A special thanks to Dr. Bob Seiser, Associate Professor of Biology and Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, for a tremendous job in bringing the SENCER Summer Institute to RU and making sure, along with his many RU colleagues and conference organizers, that the Institute was a success!

Posted in conferences, education, events, faculty, presentations, research, Roosevelt, students

What Role Will Climate Change Concerns Play in the 2016 Election?

Earlier this week, NY Times science/environmental journalist and @DotEarth blogger Andrew Revkin posted findings from a recent poll of US voters about their level of concern about global warming. The results are not inspiring or encouraging, as the vast majority of those polled state that climate change is a very low priority among the many issues important to voters in the upcoming presidential election.

US climate change poll 2016July NYTimesAs Revkin states:

Since 2008, the “Six Americas” survey by researchers at Yale and George Mason University has provided a valuable running view of the range of American views on climate change and related issues. A new analysis in the context of the election, drawing on data from March, shows we’re going back in time, in essence. . . .

So despite the “scary boring” string of “warmest” temperature records of late (see “shifting baselines“), despite years of “worse than we thought” findings and messages, “meh” still wins the day.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for pursuing progress on clean energy and building community resilience. On both of these issues, there’s evidence that the United States has “no red-blue divide.”

But it does mean that centering rhetoric on the “climate crisis” may not do much more than energize those already alarmed (keeping in mind that this also energizes those at the “dismissive” end of the range).

For more analysis of these data and some reflections on its implications for science communication and environmental journalism, see Revkin’s post here.

Posted in climate change, news, policy, science

Roosevelt’s Wabash Rooftop Garden 2016 Season Underway at the Chicago Campus

The 5th floor Wabash Rooftop Garden at Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus is ready and raring to go!

All of the garden’s vegetable and herb seedlings have been transplanted, the bounty of which will be donated to the Wabash Dining Center. The 2016 season’s homegrown items include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and arugula, as well as a delectable variety of fresh herbs.

Sustainability is as much a social enterprise as an environmental ethic: hence the rooftop garden is always open to new and returning volunteers! This time of year RU gardeners are focused on thinning plant growth, harvesting, and general watering and weeding. Not to mention, working in our garden is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and summer sun without ever leaving the building. Our rooftop is also a great site for tours and class participation. In the past, biology classes have sampled soil here. Functioning as both a campus greenspace and learning lab, we always welcome new ideas for integrating the rooftop garden into academic activities.

For more garden updates, please visit the Roosevelt Green Campus Blog. To volunteer or find out more, contact Tiffany Mucci, Environmental Sustainability Intern (

Posted in agriculture, food, green design, Roosevelt, service

Busy as Bees in the Wabash Rooftop Garden

Roosevelt University Green Campus

The 5th floor Wabash Rooftop Garden is ready and raring to go!

IMG_20160623_144412 (Photo: T. Mucci, 2016)

As of last week all of our vegetable and herb seedlings have been transplanted, the bounty of which will be donated to the Wabash Dining Center. The 2016 season’s homegrown items include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and arugula, as well as a delectable selection of fresh herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary (sorry — not thyme, for all you Simon and Garfunkel fans), dill, cilantro, mint, oregano, and several kinds of basil. All of our veggie, herb, and companion plantings are of organic and/or heirloom varieties.

The rooftop garden is available for tours by appointment throughout the spring, summer, and fall. This summer we have already hosted two tours, the most recent of which brought student interns from a Chicago youth program called Calumet is My Backyard (CIMBY). CIMBY has been connecting high…

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