Spring 2020 Course Preview for SUST 370 – Mapping for Sustainability

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Interactive IL school garden map created with GIS by B. Jerome, 2019

The Sustainability Studies program will offer innovative course entitled “Mapping for Sustainability” this coming Spring 2020 semester at Roosevelt U. This hands-on course utilizes Geographic Information Science (GIS )software, which allows us to visualize data, ask questions, and conduct analysis so that we can better understand relationships and patterns in our world. A great example of GIS in action is the recent work by SUST alum Bria Jerome (BA ’19), who mapped school gardens across the state of IL as part of her Spring 2019 sustainability internship with Seven Generations Ahead.

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 majors are welcome in the course.

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

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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:

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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 370 Mapping for Sustainability (section 01)
  • Instructor: Dr. Graham Pickren
  • Semester offered: Spring 2020
  • Location: Auditorium Building, Room 1019
  • Day/time: Tuesday lecture 11-11:50am, Thursday lab 11am-1pm
  • Start date: 21 Jan 2020
  • Lab fee: $25
  • Pre-req: Undergraduate level ENG 102 Minimum Grade of C-

 

 

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Volunteering as a Bridge to a Lost World

By Christine Rado for SUST 350

When I was a kid, we didn’t volunteer. We weren’t necessarily “poor,” per se, but we weren’t exactly middle class either. We did struggle, as did many families ran by a single mother. Therefore, volunteering to help the community was not put on our priority list, and I grew up none the wiser. As I became an adult, however, I realized there are people out there who really struggled. More so than we did, such as with poverty, class and racial issues. You’d think these issues would get better as we humans evolved, but this past decade has really shined a spotlight for me on some serious issues that need healing.

Changing my major here at Roosevelt University to Sustainability Studies in 2017 and the education I have received thus far has made these issues that much more clear. We need fewer people blaming total system failures on the victims, and more people helping those that need help. Sustainability Studies is an environmental field, but it is also about sustaining our species. And, in order to do that, we ALL need to work together. Volunteering is something we should all be doing, and the past couple of years I have chosen to be as involved as I possibly could. However, I often felt lost, in that I just didn’t know where to start and what else I can do to help — especially since there are so many issues at hand to choose from.

Photo: Eden Place Nature Center

Many people are beginning to make the (re)connection that the health of our communities is paramount to solving world crises. Take a look at the work they are doing at  Eden Place, in Fuller Park on the South Side of Chicago. Michael and Amelia Ward saw a need to revitalize the stressed neighborhood they grew up in. Not only did they accomplish this feat, but they created, with community help, a beautiful and educational oasis that the entire community can participate in and enjoy. This semester and for the past six years, Professor Mike Bryson of Roosevelt University spearheads a group of RU students to roll-up their shirt-sleeves and assist the Howards wherever they need a hand at Eden Place once a week.

As much as I would have loved to join the live class in this endeavor, I could not make it there during the times they volunteer. So, I set out to find an organization that would be a little easier for my schedule. Utilizing a very helpful list from Professor Bryson, I researched and decided I wanted to work with SCARCE, an organization that dedicates itself to environmental education and repurposing items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Photo: Christine Rado (2019)

Working these past couple of weeks with SCARCE has truly been an eye-opener. So far I have assisted in two community recycling drives. Although this is substantially beneficial for our environment, it is also an asset to organize and make connective experiences within the community. I’ve made some fantastic connections these past few weeks, and met some incredibly dedicated people. And I’ve learned a lot about myself. The more I volunteer, the easier it becomes for my introverted self to connect with others. I’ve also noticed that when you do good, others want to join you. I can’t see how that can ever be a bad thing.

Daniel Lerch writes in The Community Resilience Reader (2017) about four ways practices for purposeful change help “develop capacities for change in personal, organizational, and social situations” (p. 140), and I really connected with this insight after being an active volunteer.

The first is “developing your capacity for action” (p. 140). You realize what you are truly capable of and that you CAN make a difference. The second is “becoming mindful of habitual entanglements” (p. 140). Listen to what is going on around you, pay attention to what you have room for. You probably have more time than you think. The third is “way-finding: making connections” (p. 140). This comes easier (not to mention more fun) the more you participate in the community. And finally, the fourth is “practices for change are appreciative” (p. 140). For me, this comes from that visceral feeling of being a part of something larger than myself.

In this political, environmental, and social climate, many of us simply feel lost. Whether we are struggling to make ends meet, to feel like a part of the community, or even just to fit in somewhere, anywhere. In closing, I’d like to end with a quote that really resonated with me in Lerch’s aforementioned book, from systems scientist Donello Meadows:

My experience — having now many times created a vision and then brought it, in some form, into being — is that I never know, at the beginning, how to get there. But, as I articulate the vision and share it with people, the path reveals itself.

(Lerch, 2017)

Reference

Lerch, D. (2017). The community resilience reader: essential resources for an era of upheaval. Washington, DC: Island Press.

***

Christine Rado is a junior SUST major at Roosevelt University and a full-time corporate customer service and consumer affairs manager for a major food company. Throughout the Fall 2019 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 350 Service & Sustainability class will blog about their experiences volunteering at various community organizations in and around Chicago.

Posted in community, courses, education, ethics, Roosevelt, service, social justice, students, suburbs, waste | 1 Comment

RU Students, Faculty, & Staff: Compete in the 2019 Campus EcoChallenge!

So, who says sustainability advocates here at Roosevelt aren’t competitive?

Sustainability at Roosevelt has been an on-going movement to promote a healthier way of living for both ourselves and our environment. Student, faculty, and staff involvement and passionate dedication are some of the key reasons campus sustainability has improved and each year the opportunities continue to come. October is Campus Sustainability Month, and here at Roosevelt we have many opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to make a difference.

The Campus Eco-Challenge is an engagement program that brings together faculty with students in a fun and friendly competition. Starting yesterday October 2nd and going to the 23rd, students and faculty are competing in a 21-day commitment to complete challenges and earn points.

With an array of challenge categories to choose from, everyone and anyone will be able to participate. The best part is, the Campus Eco-Challenge can be done anywhere and at any time. Participants can choose up to five challenges or less to complete daily at different levels of difficulty. Afterwards, just log if the challenge was completed and be rewarded with the points, moving yourself up the leaderboard.

RU Students: create an account, join the Roosevelt University student team, choose your challenges, and get started! The small changes you make today, make for a big change in the future. Click here to create an account and start choosing your challenges!

RU Green students march in the Chicago Youth Climate Strike on 20 Sept 2019 in Grant Park.

RU Faculty and Staff: you can get in on the action, too! Create an account, join the Roosevelt University team, choose your challenges, and get started! Let’s work for sustainability and show the students we’re up to the challenge. Click on this link to create an account and start choosing your challenges!

Using the new compost bins on campus is unbelievably fun, as demonstrated by this random RU professor (photo: K. Smith).

Posted in activities, education, events, Roosevelt, students | 1 Comment

SOC Alum Gina Ramirez Speaks on Environmental Justice in Chicago @RU on 10/8

The Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation is hosting a talk by Gina Ramirez (MA Sociology ‘14), winner of the 2019 Matthew Freeman Social Justice Alumni Award, on Tuesday, October 8 from 2-3:30 p.m. at the Chicago Campus, Room 514.

Gina will discuss her work as an environmental justice change agent in her community (Southeast Side) and in the city of Chicago. She will also share her reflections about how Roosevelt students can mobilize the tools they are taking from their education at Roosevelt University in order to create change. This lecture will be of interest to all students looking for a meaningful pathway to affect change and of particular interest to students interested in environmental justice.

This event is open to all Roosevelt students, but please RSVP to Prof. Heather Dalmage at hdalmage@roosevelt.edu.

Posted in alumni, community, education, events, presentations, Roosevelt, social justice | 2 Comments

Join the Campus EcoChallenge this October @RooseveltU!

Sustainability at Roosevelt has been an on-going movement to promote a healthier way of living for both ourselves and our environment. Student involvement is one of the many reasons campus sustainability has improved and each year the opportunities continue to come. October is Campus Sustainability Month, and here at Roosevelt we have many opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to make a difference.

The Campus Eco-Challenge is an engagement program that brings together faculty with students in a fun and friendly competition. From the dates of October 2nd to the 23rd, students and faculty will compete in a 21-day commitment to complete challenges and earn points. With an array of challenge categories to choose from, everyone and anyone will be able to participate. The best part is, the Campus Eco-Challenge can be done anywhere and at any time. Participants can choose up to five challenges or less to complete daily at different levels of difficulty. Afterwards, just log if the challenge was completed and be rewarded with the points, moving yourself up the leaderboard.

RU Students: create an account, join the Roosevelt University student team, choose your challenges, and get started! The small changes you make today, make for a big change in the future. Click here to create an account and start choosing your challenges!

RU Faculty and Staff: you can get in on the action, too! Create an account, join the Roosevelt University team, choose your challenges, and get started! Let’s work for sustainability and show the students we’re up to the challenge. Click on this link to create an account and start choosing your challenges!

Posted in activities, education, events, Roosevelt, students

Chicago Youth Climate Strike this Friday 9/20/19 in Grant Park

Join members of RU Green, the Math Club, and others in an all-ages Chicago Youth Climate Strike march in Grant Park in downtown Chicago this Friday 9/20/19 in solidarity with climate strike marchers all over the world. Options for meeting:

  • 10:30am WB Lobby, 425 S. Wabash Ave., then walk with RU Green to Grant Park
  • 11:00am, south end of Grant Park (Roosevelt & Columbus)

RU students, want to help make signs? Join RU Green outside the CSI office (WB 3rd floor) on Wed 9/18 @5pm. Bring your own poster-making supplies if you have ’em (supplies limited).

Questions? Email RU Green prez Samantha Schultz (sschultz10@mail.roosevelt.edu).

Posted in activities, climate change, events, policy, Roosevelt, social justice, students | 4 Comments

Research & Inquiry Orientation Day @RooseveltU this Friday 8/30

RU students: interested in research? Come learn more about how to get involved
with research at Roosevelt at the Research & Inquiry Orientation Day this Friday from 10am-4pm in the AUD Library at the Chicago Campus.

Drop-in sessions from different departments and programs providing opportunity for student research, information about research from different disciplines, refreshments, and more! SOC profs Heather Dalmage and Stephanie Farmer will join SUST profs Graham Pickren and Mike Bryson in two collaboration sessions (10am and 1:30pm) highlighting student research opportunities in sociology and sustainability studies.

Official flier for the event — please share!

More info: flier (pdf) and schedule (pdf)

Posted in activities, education, events, faculty, research, Roosevelt, students