Oxfam Hunger Banquet @RooseveltU this Thursday, Nov. 16

Issues of food insecurity and homelessness are present on university and college campuses worldwide. Roosevelt recognizes that we are not exempt from the concerns of those students who identify in this way, and are dedicated to providing resources, support, and advocate for those in need.

Sponsored by the Black Student Union and the RU Counseling Center, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet provides a chance for us to address the severity of food insecurity and starvation as it relates to our community, and will assist in fostering a community of care that will allow us to join in the fight against inequality, injustice, and oppression. Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty.

On Thursday, Nov. 16th, 1-4pm in the Congress Lounge, come join us for a surprise dinner party, where the biggest surprise is learning your reaction to what’s on the menu! This event is free and open to all Roosevelt University faculty, staff, and students. Roosevelt IDs will be checked upon entrance to the event.

Please come and engage in a meaningful conversation about how food insecurity is prevalent and relates to our community while you learn more about issues of hunger, sustainability and how you can help. Please register for the event here.

If you are allergic to chicken or salmon, and/or have other dietary restrictions, please email lellisnelson@roosevelt.edu.

Posted in activities, community, education, events, food, Roosevelt, social justice, students | Leave a comment

SUST 350 Service Team Tackles Fall Projects at Eden Place Nature Center & Farm

By Emma Vuillemot for SUST 350

Our SUST 350 Service and Sustainability course this fall at Roosevelt University takes place at Eden Place Nature Center for another season of working on Fuller Park’s very own nature center and urban farm. Thus far this fall season, a small but mighty team of students and faculty have worked at both the Nature Center and Eden Place Farm.

Eden Place Farm, 2017Sept (photo: E. Vuillemot)

For those who are new to the SUST Blog, Eden Place Nature Center and Farm is a non-profit urban farm and community green space located in Fuller Park on a plot of land that was once used as an illegal dumping site. Michael Howard, passionate community member and Executive Director of Fuller Park Community Development, once bemoaned this trashed site as an example of environmental racism and municipal neglect in a community plagued by violence and lead contamination. His family inspired the whole community and more to clear the site about 20 years ago,and since then it has transformed into a unique Nature Center that functions as an urban oasis: a nutrient-rich, tree-covered landscape that features native prairie grasses, animals, even a pond.

Cultivating microgreens at Eden Place Farm, Sept 2017 (photo: E. Vuillemot)

Eden Place Farm is where their vegetable crops are cultivated. Located about six blocks south of the original Nature Center site, several types of crops are produced and sold at their Saturday Farmers Market throughout the farming season. In addition to growing and harvesting crops and microgreens this fall, EPNC has their hands full hosting school field trips, day camps, and community events, one being Octoberfest — an annual fall family event for the community, featuring activities like a straw bale mountain, a pumpkin patch, and face painting at the Nature Center. All of the events and grooming of the grounds are the product of faithful and intrepid community members and volunteers. People from all walks of life can use this community asset to educate others about nature and conservation in an urban setting.

This semester’s SUST 350 offered a Chicago section as well as an online section for those who could complete an independent service project on a more flexible schedule. With this opportunity to spread sustainability and equity to other communities, registration resulted in six students enrolled in the online section and two students in the Chicago section. Professor Mike Bryson and students Daniel Krejsa and Emma Vuillemot take on the endeavor of prepping for EPNC for events like Octoberfest. Though they are merely three people strong, they have been able to complete several tasks at the Nature Center and Farm with the help of EPNC volunteers and employees.

Our straw bale pyramid (photo: M. Bryson)

One of their feats was creating the straw bale pyramid for children to climb at the Nature Center. On October 11th, the team tackled setting up the seemingly easy three-tier pile, but was first confronted with 20 ft. high walls of bound hay bales. This didn’t deter their power and determination to complete the project. Taking up to 11 bales at a time, Daniel, Emma and Mike carted over the bales to the site over the uneven terrain.

Hauling straw bales at Eden Place Nature Center, Oct 2017 (photo: E. Vuillemot)

Pound for pound, the strongest straw-hauling students at Roosevelt! (photo: M. Bryson)

Another one of their heavy-duty farm tasks was to help Troy Howard, managing director of EPNC and son of Michael Howard, and EPNC staff Benote Evans transport an industrial kitchen-sized refrigerator through one doorway, out and around the property, and back into the main doors with only centimeters of clearance for movement. Also at the Farm, the 350 team participated in harvesting of produce for the weekly farmers market, flipped large compost piles, and cleared extensive areas of weeds and invasive plants. One of the difficult tasks there was clearing a few rows of the soil for more vegetable crops. What made the tilling a bit more tedious and physical was the lack of heavier machinery, a common drawback for a non-profit urban farm that is as small as EPNC. On the other hand, the manual labor is excellent exercise!

All of the work to maintain the farm and animals has been solely managed by the Howards, bare bones EPNC staff, community members and volunteers, many of whom work behind the scenes of EPNC. Though this year’s SUST 350 group is considerably smaller than previous seasons, their presence is equally valued by EPNC members. Service learning and volunteership are key components to the function of the Nature Center and Farm because Eden Place can then thrive on the nourishment and care.

Emma Vuillemot is a junior Sustainability Studies major and Math minor at Roosevelt University in Chicago IL.

Posted in agriculture, courses, education, faculty, food, Roosevelt, service, students | Leave a comment

Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program

The University of Michigan just announced that applications are open for undergraduate students interested in conservation science to do research over two summers supported by the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program. Accepted scholars complete two 8-week summer sessions (in 2018 and 2019) and earn stipends of $4,250-5,200 plus expenses. Applications are due 31 Jan 2018. The following info is taken from the DDCSP website, which also provides links to opportunities at four other universities.

More than ever, organizations and government agencies that work to conserve land, water and wildlife need to attract and employ individuals from racial and ethnic groups that are largely absent in today’s conservation workforce. Launched by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in 2013, DDCSP responds to this need by increasing the number of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups who choose to pursue coursework and careers in conservation.

In this highly selective multi-year undergraduate research program, students will:

  • Experience extraordinary places such as the Grand Canyon, the Cascade Mountains, the California coast, the Everglades and the Great Lakes
  • Conduct research with and be mentored by leading academics in the conservation field
  • Build valuable research and leadership skills
  • Gain in-depth knowledge of land, water and wildlife conservation issues and challenges
  • Be exposed to exciting career options in the conservation field
  • Meet leading conservation thinkers and professionals of color
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the value of diversity
  • Form lifelong bonds with peers from across the country
  • Become a part of a growing lifetime network of Scholars

Students who have a passion for nature, or are driven to increase the diversity of students and professionals in the conservation field, are encouraged to learn more and consider applying to be a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar.

DDCSP is administered by five universities:  Northern Arizona University, University of California at Santa Cruz, University of Florida, University of Michigan (also see this pdf announcement) and University of Washington. With the exception of the program administered by the University of Florida, all DDCSP sites recruit students nationwide to participate in DDCSP.  The University of Florida partners with Cornell University, North Carolina State University, University of Arizona and University of Idaho to serve students recruited from those five institutions.

The Foundation encourages potential applicants to take a look at all five programs, as offerings and activity locations differ across DDCSP sites. For more information about the offerings at each DDCSP site, and to apply, please click on the links in the paragraph above. If you have questions, please contact the designated representatives listed on each university’s DDCSP webpage.

Posted in conservation, ecology, education, fellowships, research, science | Leave a comment

Register @RooseveltU for Spring & Summer 2018 Classes

SUST alumni & students on the WB Rooftop Garden during Service Day 2017. (photo: M. Bryson)

Here’s a cheerful autumnal thought: advising and registration are now ongoing (since Nov 2nd) for the Spring & Summer 2018 semesters here at @RooseveltU. The Sustainability Studies program is offering a wide range of courses and we’re planning two exciting semesters of learning, research, and campus outreach projects!

Undergraduate students, please look over the Spring 2018 schedule using this coursefinder, check your remaining course requirements, and email or call your assigned academic advisor with your planned schedule and any questions you have about your upcoming classes. Your advisor will help you craft your schedule and provide you with an RU Access registration code so you can register.

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Spring 2018:

ACP 110 Primary Texts (MW 11am-12:15pm, Bryson)*
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (TTh 11am-12:15pm, Pickren)
SUST 220 Water (12-week online, 1/29-4/27, Jones)
SUST 230 Food (W 6-8:30pm, Gerberich)
SUST 240 Waste (8-week online, 3/12-5/14, Gerberich)§
SUST/ACP 250 The Sustainable University (M 2-4:30pm, Bryson)◊
SUST 310 Energy & Climate Change (T 2-4:30pm, Pickren)
SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, & Planning (12-week online, 1/29-4/27, Pickren)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (8-week online, 1/16-3/9, Hoffman)§
SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics (Th 2-4:30pm, Hoffman)
SUST 395 Sustainability Studies Internship (by arrangement)

* 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.
◊ Students may register for either ACP 250 (Grounds for Change credit) or SUST 250 (Sustainability Studies credit).

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Summer 2018:

SUST 210 Sustainable Future (8-week online, 5/29-7/25, Pickren)
SUST 360 Writing Urban Nature (1-week intensive, 5/21-25, Bryson)
SUST 390 Special Topics: Rooftop Garden (on-campus + online, 5/29-7/25, Gerberich)

We know November is a super busy time of the academic year, but be sure to make a little time to get in touch with your advisor to sign up for the classes you need! For additional useful info, see this Advising Resources page on Prof. Mike Bryson’s faculty website.


Posted in courses, education, faculty, Roosevelt, students | Leave a comment

Sociology, Environmental Justice, & Sustainability: Reflections by SOC Grad Student Shanti Brown

by Shanti Brown

As a second-year graduate student in sociology at Roosevelt University’s Chicago campus, my connection to sustainability and environmental justice stems from my longstanding interest in studying poverty and social justice. Sadly, the inequities of the poor also include inferior natural resources. Through my own personal experiences, and interest in the promotion of social justice, I have learned that poverty is and has long been a very complex phenomenon on both the domestic and global fronts. Specifically, I have learned that this phenomenon, combined with continued deep segregation, often means unhealthy communities for Blacks and Latinos in Chicago. Moreover, this city has long overlooked the depth of impact of harmful environmental factors which plague its residents.

From scholarly and community conversations about poverty, I am learning that poverty is not simply an economic crisis, but one which includes the compromise and degradation of environmental resources (exemplifed in places like Flint, Michigan). The complexities of poverty force us to examine the historically harmful environmental conditions of the poor. Even more, it is increasingly difficult to overlook antiquated city planning which continues to leave Black and Latino populations in Chicago at an environmental disadvantage. Polluted soil, toxic water supplies, and lack of access to fresh food on Chicago’s South and West Sides have long been a generational dilemma for many residents. Who decides who should have clean air and water?

As a sociology scholar and citizen, I’m interested in examining how urban and environmental planning has joined other failing institutions (education, criminal justice, employment) of the city to negatively impact many predominately Black and Latino communities in Chicago, the legacy of systematic racial segregation. The term environmental racism explains the current environmental injustices of many underserved communities in Chicago. Native Chicago author and activist Haki R. Madhubuti expressed his thoughts on this matter in his 1994 book Claiming Earth:

This book is not an investigation of the environment; rather, it is about questioning our noninvolvement in the environmentalist movement. Why is it that many urban children think that the source of all food is the corner grocery store or the chain supermarket? It is obvious to any thinking person that part of the health problem in urban areas is closely tied to fast-food restaurants, bad water, the over-consumption of processed foods, the non-availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, and up-to-date health information. Environmental racism is partially manifested by toxic dumps, incinerators, and landfills located to Black communities. It is also about the exploitative use of land and its resources to benefit the few at the deadly expense of the less powerful and less informed.

The recent merging of Roosevelt University’s Sustainability and Sociology programs in the new Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development is exciting because I believe that environmental injustices have taken a back seat in the critical dialogue about poverty. The interaction among these programs will allow for the intersections between sustainability and social justice to be more pronounced in the classrooms of Roosevelt. It is incumbent upon all of us to further understand the relationship between social justice and environmental justice theories and practices in building healthier communities for all.

Shanti Brown is a second-year graduate student at Roosevelt University working on his MA degree in sociology in the Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development. His research and writing interests include the impacts of poverty and racism in urban communities and their relation to environmental justice issues such as food access and toxic exposure.


Posted in cities, education, ethics, Roosevelt, social justice, students | Leave a comment

Compost Collection @RooseveltU: Back in Action this Fall!

by Tony DiVecchio, SUST senior and Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab intern

It’s back! Composting in the Auditorium Building is back in action. This is a continuation of the pilot program that the Physical Resources Department and Sustainability Studies Program started last spring under the leadership of SUST senior Moses Viveros (now BA ’17) and the SUST 250 Sustainable University compost and recycling project team. The collection locations are the same as last year — at Southeast Elevator on Michigan, and the in Central stairwell on Congress — but this time besides the 8th floor we have expanded to the 5th floor as well as the Bridge connecting the AUD and WB Buildings.

New signage for waste stations developed by the 250 Recycling/Composting student team in Spring 2017 (Photo: E. Vuillemot)

If you are unaware of what can or cannot be put into the compost bins, there are signs hanging above each bin with information, as well as information on the bin itself. At the end of each day, roughly around 4 or 5pm, compost bins are collected, weighed, and then brought down to the Wabash Dining Center where the organic waste is placed into a SOMAT waste disposal system. We weigh each bin to calculate how much food waste is diverted from the landfill.

Results thus far: we have diverted 25.6 pounds of food waste in the first four weeks that this project has been running this fall. That food waste that we have diverted is important to reducing greenhouse gases from landfills, but also can be composted and used as nutrients in gardens (including the rooftop variety!) and potted plants.

We thank you for your participation in and support of our efforts to reduce food waste!

If you have any questions or suggestions, or would be willing to volunteer to perform a compost pickup, please contact Anthony DiVecchio (adivecchio@mail.roosevelt.edu).

Posted in education, food, recycling, Roosevelt, students, waste | 1 Comment

EPA and Dept of the Interior Excise Climate Change from Strategic Plans

by Mike Bryson

Ryan Zinke with Steve Bannon (Getty Images)

In this new era of administrative incompetence, mendacity, and malfeasance here in these United States, two federal departments stand out for their energetic actions to roll back policies and regulations developed over the past several decades: the EPA, led by industrial polluter advocate Scott Pruitt, who made a name for himself (#PollutingPruitt) suing the agency he now directs; and the Department of the Interior (DOI), headed by Ryan Zinke, whose twin goals appear to be shrinking the area of America’s public lands while opening up more of what remains to oil and gas drilling, mining, and for all I know, drag-racing.

Both men are notable examples of how the current administration has stacked its top-level leadership with people devoid of any semblance of environmental ethics, let alone knowledge about climate change, which is clearly one of the greatest threats to human health, economic sustainability, and political stability facing the global community today — something the likes of the US Military has long acknowledged.

Donald Trump and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt (photo: Politico)

The ongoing attack on climate science and policy by the White House as well as by the politically appointed leadership of the EPA is both well-documented and ongoing, and the most recent nauseating chapter of this sordid narrative is the breathtaking excision of any mention of climate change (there, I said it) from the EPA’s newly released Strategic Plan for 2018-2022, available for public review and comment here on the EPA website and here as a pdf. Citizens have until October 31st to submit a comment about this draft plan, and I urge them to do so as another expression of our civic obligations and privileges that include voting, communicating with our representatives, and protesting.

Not to be outdone, Zinke’s newly adulterated DOI has been busy writing its own backward-looking Strategic Plan, of which a late September internal draft was just leaked, as reported in The Nation today. This 50-page document fails to mention the terms climate change or climate science once, though it devotes plenty of text to oil and gas prospecting and mining — activities designed to return America to a state of “energy dominance.” While I do not know when an official public commenting period will open on this regressive document, it seems certain to generate plenty of discussion on social media for the time being.

The unfortunate takeaway from these strategic plans is this: while some within the current administration cannot write a coherent sentence, make a sincere phone call offering empathic condolence, or compose a balanced budget plan, two of our most ardent anti-environmentalists now in leadership positions are, to my chagrin, highly skilled bureaucrats hell-bent on eroding the foundations of their respective government units quietly, efficiently, and within the normal channels of operations. Their competence at and enthusiasm for doing so make it all the more imperative the public stay aware of what’s happening to the agencies charged with protecting our environmental resources and conserving public lands, lest they become indistinguishable from the industries they are charged with regulating.

Mike Bryson is Professor Sustainability Studies and Chair of the Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development at Roosevelt University.

Posted in climate change, ethics, news, parks and public land, planning, policy, pollution