Sustainability Studies at RU in 2013: The Year in Review

2013 was a productive and exciting year in the Sustainability Studies undergraduate program at Roosevelt University, and we’re looking forward to a great 2014. This post celebrates 2013 with a brief rundown on student activities and accomplishments, faculty activities and projects, and SUST-related projects and campus events.

Student Activities and Accomplishments

Sustainability Studies majors led sustainability projects at both the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses, performed conservation work here in the Chicago region as well as abroad, secured professional internships and research fellowships, and engaged in a variety of local environmental activist /social justice work this past year.

MaryBeth Radeck

MaryBeth Radeck

Campus Leadership: Troy Withers (BPS ’13) and MaryBeth Radeck worked as Environmental Sustainability Associates in RU’s Physical Resources department at the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses, respectively. Troy served as president of the student environmental organization RU Green and planned a host of successful campus events during 2012-13 academic year, such as these for Earth Day; while MaryBeth managed the RU Community Garden during its second season, completely redesigned and expanded the RU Green Campus website, and spearheaded the Schaumburg Campus’ recent designations as a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat and an National Arbor Foundation Tree Campus USA.

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Internships: Several SUST majors pursued professional or academic internships during 2013, including Mike Miller (BA ’13), who worked on the rooftop farm at the Uncommon Ground restaurant; Kyle Huff, who worked on Growing Power’s urban farm sites in Chicago; Ron Taylor (BPS ’13), a transportation policy intern at the Center for Neighborhood Technology; Michael Magdongon (BPS ’13), who interned at the Espaço Ciencia science museum in Recife, Brazil; Kristina Lugo, who worked on early land plant biodiversity with Dr. Matt von Konrat in the Field Museum’s botany division; Kenton Franklin (BPS ’12), a Joyce Foundation energy operations intern with RU’s Physical Resources; and Allison Mayes (BA ’13), who was a contributor to and assistant editor of the SUST and SSF blogs.

Mike Magdongon (BPS '13) and new colleagues/friends during his summer 2013 internship in Brazil

Mike Magdongon (BPS ’13) with his host family during his summer 2013 internship in Brazil

Kristina Lugo in the bryophyte lab at the FMNH (Aug 2012)

Kristina Lugo in the bryophyte lab at the FMNH (Aug 2012)

Jobs: Kristina Lugo, SUST senior, worked as an intern in botany for Dr. Matt von Konrat at the Field Museum of Natural History in 2012-13; she now has a full-time position as Annual Fund Coordinator in the FMNH’s department of Institutional Advancement.

Fellowships and Awards: Allison Breeding (BA ’13) was awarded a prestigious Research Experience for Undergraduates NSF summer fellowship at Southern IL University to study agroecology. Kenton Franklin (BPS ’12) was selected in April 2013 as the inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Student Award in Sustainability Studies at the annual College of Professional Studies student awards ceremony.

Allison Breeding working with soil samples in the lab at SIU during her summer research fellowship in 2013

Allison Breeding working with soil samples in the lab at SIU during her summer research fellowship in 2013

Research and Creative Work: Angi Cornelius (BA ’13), Ron Taylor (BPS ’13), and Ken Schmidt represented Roosevelt at the annual Chicago River Student Congress, hosted by Friends of the Chicago River at Marie Curie High School. Nicole Burns (BA ’13) and Josh Campbell (BA ’13), performed forest conservation work in Tanzania with RU biology professor Norbert Cordiero’s BIO 369 Conservation Biology travel course; Allison Breeding (BA ’13), Jordan Ewbank, Bridget Powers, and Charlie Roberts worked with SUST adjunct professor Michele Hoffman Trotter on her “Microcosm” film project. And last but not least was the first SUST Student Symposium in October, featuring Allison Breeding (BA ’13), Kyle Huff, and Ron Taylor (BPS ’13).

Allison Breeding, Kyle Huff, Ron Taylor (L to R), with Mike Bryson, at the SUST Student Symposium in Chicago, Oct. 2013 (B. Hunt)

Service Learning: Students in the second offering of SUST 350 Service & Sustainability transformational service learning course worked at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm, one of Growing Power’s urban farm operations here in Chicago, and developed several team-based Action Research Projects as part of their service to the farm. The course was supported by a grant from RU’s Mansfield Institute.

SUST majors Christian Cameron, Scott Rogers, and Michael Magdongon (BPS ’13) turn over planting rows at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm, April 2013

Environmental and Social Activism: SUST majors Rebecca Quesnell and Conor Swenson (BA/Honors ’13) were active leaders in the RU student activist organization RISE, along with RU honors student and environmental activist Dylan Amlin. RISE and other students worked on issues such as promoting climate change policy, clean energy development, anti-fracking legislation, and various community justice/sustainability initiatives such as those espoused by the Institute of Cultural Affairs.

Mike Miller, BA '13, worked the Uncommon Ground restaurant and rooftop farm in the summer of 2013.New Media and Communications: Allison Mayes (BA ’13), Allison Breeding (BA ’13), Mike Miller (BA ’13, at left), Nicole Burns (BA ’13), MaryBeth Radeck contributed essays to the SUST at RU blog. Several dozen students in SUST 210 and 240 classes during the spring/fall 2013 semesters wrote posts and did research for the ever-evolving Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future blog/website.

Alumni News

Special congratulations go to the 15 SUST majors who comprised the graduating class of 2013! Thus far in the program’s history since its start in 2010, 13 students have earned the BPS and 12 have earned BA degrees. See these posts about the Spring 2013 and Fall 2013 graduates.

  • Stephanie Eisner (BA ’13) is Logistics Coordinator at Green Iowa Americorps in Des Moines, IA.
  • Michael Magdongon (BPS ’13) went on a South American adventure right after his May graduation by interning at the Espaço Ciencia science museum in Recife, Brazil, where he worked as an Organizational Consultant and developed a marketing/business plan addressing issues, providing solutions, and suggesting potential opportunities for the museum’s science education mission.
  • Allison MayesAllison Mayes (BA ’13), pictured at right, secured a new position as Post Closing Escrow Associate at Chicago Title.
  • Jessie Crow Mermel (BPS ’12) became Communications Director at Angelic Organics Learning Center, the education wing of the Angelic Organics CSA farm near Rockford, IL. She and her husband, Randy, are longtime instructors at the Learning Center.
  • Steven Roberts (BPS ’12) is an info tech professional at Novant Health in Charlotte, NC, and aspires to study urban planning and transportation systems.
  • Ben Schulman (BPS ’12) is now Communications Director at AIA Chicago as well as an MA student in Communications at UIC.
  • Ron Taylor (BPS ’13) was promoted to Director of Federal Business Development at the Chicago-based IT firm IYKA Enterprises.
  • Jeff Wasil (BPS ’12) is an Emissions Compliance Engineer at Bombardier Recreation Products Evinrude Product Development Center. Over the past ten years, he has published and presented several technical papers on marine engine emissions including particulate matter, gaseous emissions, bioassay analysis, life-cycle emissions and alternative fuels and has testified before Congress regarding ethanol-extended fuels.
  • Amanda Zeigler (BPS ’12) became a full-time research assistant for the Emerging Pathogens Project at the Field Museum of Natural History after starting as a zoology intern in the first FMNH-based section of SUST 330 Biodiversity.

Faculty Activities and Accomplishments

Planning Chicago cover, Hunt DeVries.JPGBrad Hunt, SUST co-founder and Professor of History and Social Science, published Planning Chicago with Jon DeVries (U of C Press, 2013) and was promoted to Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Vice Provost for Adult and Experiential Education.

JKP in labJulian Kerbis Peterhans, Professor of Natural Science, spent the 2012-13 academic on a Fulbright research fellowship in Uganda, discovered four new mammal species during this work there, and wrote about his adventures for the SUST blog. His SUST 330 Biodiversity course at Roosevelt is offered at the Field Museum of Natural History and links students with researchers in zoology, botany, and geology who are engaged in conservation work around the globe.

Hoffman portraitMichele Hoffman Trotter, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies, began research and filming on an exciting marine science documentary, Microcosm, which has taken her to Nova Scotia and Hawaii for field work; involved several SUST students in this exciting project; and held a wildly successful fund-raising event in October at Columbia College. Work on this film continues in 2014, as Michele is currently on location in Hawaii — a smart move on many levels!

Sustainability journal cover 2013AugMike Bryson, SUST Program Director and Associate Professor of Humanities, co-authored “Teaching Sustainability 101” in Sustainability: The Journal of Record, and contributed three essays to the City Creatures blog project through the Center for Humans and Nature. He gave presentations at the University of Notre Dame, Augustana College, Joliet Junior College, The University of St. Francis, and Marie Curie High School; guest lectured numerous times here at Roosevelt; and was a faculty co-sponsor of the Great Lakes Bioneers conference hosted by RU’s Chicago Campus in November, when he introduced keynote speaker Sandra Steingraber. Bryson was awarded a faculty research leave for the spring 2014 semester to study the life and work of May Watts, a noted Chicago region naturalist, writer, and artist.

GrowingpowertourMarisMaris Cooke (at right), Visiting Instructor of Natural Science and Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies, offered the first-ever sections of SUST 330 Biodiversity at the Schaumburg Campus in a unique 5-Satuday / hybrid format that featured field trips to selected conservation sites in the city and NW suburbs.

Yonah Freemark, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies and a journalist with a background in architecture and urban planning, joined the faculty in the fall of 2013 to teach SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning.

Barot close-upSuhail Barot, Visiting Instructor of Sustainability Studies during 2012-13 academic year, began his PhD studies in electrical engineering at the University of Toronto.

Programs and Campus Events

2013 was a busy and exciting year on many fronts at both Roosevelt campuses in terms of sustainability events, initiatives, and projects. Many of these involved the Sustainability Studies program, often in tandem with efforts by other academic programs and/or the university’s Physical Resources Department. Some highlights include:

  • The Great Lakes Bioneers environmental conference at RU’s Chicago Campus, which brought over 400 environmental activists, sustainability professionals, faculty, students, and citizens to Roosevelt on Nov. 1st-3rd; this was the largest environmental conference hosted by RU in at least two decades. SUST majors Maria Cancilla, MaryBeth Radeck, and Ken Schmidt served as note-takers during the Friday workshop sessions, which also were attended by students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210, 220, and 240 classes.
  • The inaugural Sustainability Students Student Symposium on Oct. 17th at the Chicago Campus, which featured presentations by Allison Breeding (BA ’13), Kyle Huff, and Ron Taylor (BPS ’13) on their 2013 internship/fellowship experiences and research at Southern IL University, Growing Power, and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, respectively.
  • Adjunct Professor Michele Hoffman Trotter’s fundraising event (also on Oct. 17th — a busy day!) for her scientific documentary film on marine biodiversity, Microcosm; several SUST students helped with the event and have contributed to work on the film project.
  • The Governor’s Sustainability Award to Roosevelt University during a ceremony in East Peoria on Oct. 29th, which was accepted by Tom Shelton, RU’s Sustainability Coordinator in Physical Resources, and Mike Bryson, SUST Program Director.

    RU 2013 Gov's Award for Sustainability

    Mike Bryson, SUST professor/program director, and Tom Shelton, RU sustainability coordinator, accept the Governor’s Sustainability Award for Roosevelt in October 2013

  • Expansion of the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website/blog project, founded on Earth Day of 2011, by students in SUST 210 Sustainable Future and 240 Waste classes; as part of this ongoing effort to document and critique sustainability efforts in suburban communities, undergrad scholars contributed dozens of blog posts and research essays to this unique web project.
  • Class field trips for SUST students throughout the Chicago region to the Chicago River, Volkening Heritage Farm, Iron Street and Chicago Lights Urban Farms, Field Museum, Cook County Forest Preserves, and many other sites of interest.

SUST 220 Water students canoe the North Branch of the Chicago River, Oct. 2013

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1 Response to Sustainability Studies at RU in 2013: The Year in Review

  1. Julian Kerbis says:

    Wow- What an impressive
    package Michael!

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