After four productive and influential years as a College of Professional Studies faculty member here at Roosevelt University, Dr. Carl Zimring is moving to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where he will begin a new chapter in his academic career. An urban environmental historian and internationally-recognized expert on waste management and recycling processes and policies, Dr. Zimring will design and teach new interdisciplinary courses in sustainability that align with the mission of innovation and waste reduction in Pratt’s renowned programs in design, architecture, and art. As Zimring writes on his new blog:
Sustainability at Pratt includes a variety of initiatives, including incubation of startup firms devoted to sustainability, community outreach both in its immediate Brooklyn environs and throughout New York City, graduate programs on planning and facilities management, and a plethora of undergraduate courses approaching sustainability from disciplines ranging from architecture to philosophy.
Within this very fertile environment, my immediate challenge as associate professor of sustainability studies is to coordinate an introductory SUST 201/202 Sustainable Core course that incorporates existing activities and expertise at Pratt. The goal is to provide students a broad overview of sustainability problems, concerns, values, and approaches that a) might lead them to consider related coursework and b) give them valuable perspective to bring to their futures regardless of career path.
For me, this opportunity is irresistible. My work is concerned with the consequences of consumption and waste on the environment and society, including unintended consequences of the disposal of mass-produced goods, stigma associated with handing wastes, and particular attention to the ways in which attitudes concerning waste and society shape each other over time. My position at Pratt is housed in the Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, an intuitive fit for my approach to sustainability. Furthermore, Pratt students are creative leaders who will shape art, fashion, industrial design, and the built environment in ways that will affect consumption and waste streams long after I am gone. This opportunity is an unusually vivid chance for this historian to apply my training and concerns to improve the future.
The author of the acclaimed 2005 book, Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America (Rutgers University Press) and numerous scholarly articles and reviews, Zimring accomplished a tremendous amount in his relatively short stint at Roosevelt. In the spring of 2009, he and fellow College of Professional Studies professor Mike Bryson co-taught an experimental undergraduate seminar called “The Sustainable City,” a foray into the issues and themes of urban sustainability that proved to be the intellectual and pedagogical seeds of a new urban environmental academic program. By the fall semester of 2009, they and Professor Brad Hunt had co-founded the Sustainability Studies program at Roosevelt University, which now as it begins its third year has several newly-minted graduates and over 50 majors enrolled.
Dr. Zimring distinguished himself by offering the inaugural sections of SUST 210 Sustainable Future and SUST 240 Waste courses; advising many of the initial majors in the new program; paddling down the polluted yet historically rich tributary of the Chicago River called “Bubbly Creek” (and, with other faculty, developing many other field trip opportunities for his students); and creating/editing this blog, which showcased much of his incisive political, historical, and environmental commentary impacting the Chicago region as well as Illinois. This past spring (2012) saw the release of the two-volume Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste (Sage), for which Dr. Zimring served as general editor and wrote several key entries. This text will likely be the gold standard reference work in the field for years to come, and its electronic version will make it an extremely useful and adaptable teaching tool, as well.
While we will miss the incredible talents and energy of Carl Zimring here at Roosevelt, we wish him the best of luck in his new position and city (and expect that he will somehow find a way to root for his hometown White Sox from 900 miles away). The Pratt’s already impressive efforts on the sustainability front will only get bigger and better under his energetic stewardship.