Sustainability Studies in 2015: The Year in Review

2015 was a landmark year of transformation and transition in the Sustainability Studies undergraduate program at Roosevelt University, and we’re looking forward to an exciting new year as we start classes this January. Here as in our previous year-end reviews, we celebrate the past year with a brief rundown on our major initiatives and events, student activities and accomplishments, faculty projects and publications, and SUST-related campus events and activities.

RU’s First Strategic Sustainability Plan Adopted

The Plan

The Strategic Sustainability Plan

As a natural outgrowth of Roosevelt’s greening efforts and sustainability innovations the last several years, a volunteer group of students (including many SUST majors), faculty, administrators, staff, and alumni assembled in the fall of 2014 to develop an historic first for Roosevelt: a comprehensive Strategic Sustainability Plan that documents our accomplishments and sets important goals and priorities for the work we will undertake over the next several years. The Plan began as a student research project in the spring of 2014; was developed in a series of campus-wide workshops in the fall of 2014; was endorsed by the University Senate in January 2015; and was unanimously approved for implementation by the President’s Executive Council in February 2015. Thanks to all the SUST students, alumni, and faculty who contributed to the effort!

A New Home in the College of Arts & Sciences

Roosevelt's Wabash Building (background) and Auditorium Building (foreground); source: Roosevelt UniversityFounded by faculty in the Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies in 2010 as the Chicago area’s first undergraduate program in sustainability, the SUST Program shifted its home base at the university to the College of Arts and Sciences during the summer 2015. Inspired by the change in leadership at the university, where Dr. Ali Malekzadeh took the reins as our 6th president, the SUST Program is developing new initiatives and forging new relationships with academic programs in the social and natural sciences. We salute our outstanding colleagues in the College of Professional Studies for the academic and administrative support as well as intellectual inspiration they provided for the program’s creation, development, and growth during its first five years.

New Sustainability Studies Faculty and Staff

The SUST Team: Danette Buie, Mike Bryson, and Graham Pickren (photo: J. Rowen, Nov. 2015)

The SUST Team: Danette Buie, Mike Bryson, and Graham Pickren (photo: J. Rowen, Nov. 2015)

Just as importantly, the program’s search last year for a full-time faculty member to replace SUST co-founder Carl Zimring was successful, as we welcomed Dr. Graham Pickren to the Roosevelt faculty this August. A geographer by training, Dr. Pickren did his PhD at the University of Georgia and comes to Roosevelt after a post-doctoral teaching/research fellowship at the University of British Columbia. He has wide-ranging interests in sustainability, cities, and environmental policy, and this fall taught SUST 240 Waste at the Chicago Campus and SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning online.

In addition, the College of Arts & Sciences welcomed Ms. Danette Buie to the Dean’s Office, where as a versatile Program Administrator she works on budgets, program development, data analysis, and a variety of other projects. Danette’s role in the SUST program focuses on student advising and professional development, and we’re mighty glad to have her as part of the Sustainability Studies team!

Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab Facilitates Innovation & Experimentation

Fall 2015 also marked the opening of the new Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, located in AUD 526 on RU’s Chicago Campus. The RUSLab serves as both a physical and intellectual space for faculty, students, and staff to develop and collaborate on sustainability research, campus projects, and outreach efforts pertinent to urban systems. A tangible expression of the highly productive working relationship between the SUST Program and the Department of Physical Resources, the RUSLab took on and completed two major projects in the fall semester, both noted below: (1) finishing the data collection/analysis for and submitting the report for RU’s first STARS sustainability assessment and (2) launching the environmental humanities online project, Writing Urban Nature.

Roosevelt’s First STARS Report Submitted in December 2015

STARS Bronze logoOn 18 December 2015, a STARS Reporting Team consisting of a SUST alum (Beeka Quesnell, BA ’15, now RU’s Sustainability Operations Coordinator), a current SUST major (Maria Cancilla), and two SUST professors (Mike Bryson and Graham Pickren) finished a major service/sustainability project by submitting RU’s first-ever sustainability self-assessment. STARS is a comprehensive evaluation system of sustainability performance for colleges and universities, hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). With this submission, Roosevelt joins 735 other institutions in measuring their progress and learning from one another about best practices in educational sustainability.

RU scored 40.50 points, earning our institution a STARS Bronze-level rating. This achievement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many individuals at Roosevelt, including our students, faculty, and staff; and it fulfills one of the high priority short-term goals of our Strategic Sustainability Plan, which was implemented earlier this year. The endeavor began in the spring of 2015 through the work of students in a SUST 390 special topics course, “The Sustainable Campus.” 19 undergraduate students formed research teams in all four STARS assessment categories — Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning/Administration — developed research plans/timelines, reached out to key university staff and faculty, and gathered data for the assessment. This project gave them hands-on experience using the STARS assessment tool and galvanized widespread campus interest in the project. For more information on this huge effort to complete the STARS assessment, see this post on Prof. Bryson’s blog.

SUST Symposia Showcase Student Research, Internships, Travel, and Creative Work

Student presenters at the Spring 2015 SUST Symposium

Student presenters at the Spring 2015 SUST Symposium (L to R: Rebecca Quesnell, Melanie Blume, Mary Rasic, Emily Rhea)

The biannual SUST Student Symposium is a showcase for SUST majors to publicly present information on their internship work, results from research fellowships, insights from study-abroad experiences, and examples of creative work in the environmental humanities. This year, we held our Spring 2015 Symposium during Earth Week and our Fall Symposium in mid-November. Spring presenters included Melanie Blume (BA ’15), Rebecca Quesnell (BA ’15), Mary Rasic (BA ’15), and Emily Rhea. The Fall proceedings featured Shannon Conway (BA ’15), Laura Miller Hill, and Karen Craig (BA ’15). See the links above for info on their topics and copies of their presentation slides. The SUST Program kindly thanks the Department of Physical Resources for co-sponsoring each Symposium!

Writing Urban Nature in Chicago

Busse Woods is located in the center of several residential areas. Hiking deep into the woods one would never suspect this. (photo: E. Gavrilovic)

Busse Woods is located in the center of several residential areas. Hiking deep into the woods one would never suspect this.
(photo: E. Gavrilovic)

The second key undertaking of the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab this past fall resulted in the debut of Writing Urban Nature, an online environmental humanities project inspired by the past few years’ emergence of urban nature writing and sustainability blogs such as the Center for Humans and Nature’s City Creatures blog and the New York-based The Nature of Cities blog, both of which have international readerships. RU students in the inaugural section of Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 390 Special Topics: Writing Urban Nature, an environmental literature and writing special topics course, explored “nature close at hand” at sites of ecological and cultural significance in the Chicago region.

The seminar placed strong emphasis on close observation of place and people; walking and exploring landscapes and neighborhoods; and reflecting on and creating compelling ideas, stories, and images of urban nature, broadly defined. Places visited ranged from Chicago’s lakefront parklands, industrial areas, waterways, and neighborhoods; to the forest preserves and natural areas in and around Schaumburg in the NW suburbs; to the urban parklands of Joliet and the remarkable Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in SW Will County.

Writing Urban Nature features original student essays that resulted from their explorations and discussions of urban nature in and around Chicago. Each work of creative non-fiction contains original photographs by the author and, in some cases, other visual sources. The project is co-edited by SUST senior Tiffany Mucci and professor Mike Bryson.

Montrose Point, Chicago IL (photo: K. Craig, 2015)

Montrose Point, Chicago IL (photo: K. Craig, 2015)

More Student Activities and Accomplishments

Sustainability Studies students led a wide variety of sustainability projects at both the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses, performed conservation and service work here in the Chicago region as well as abroad, secured professional internships, and garnered awards and scholarships this past year.

Campus Leadership: SUST majors Shannon Conway, Rebecca Quesnell, Mary Rasic, and Sarah Tag worked as Environmental Sustainability Associates in RU’s Dept. of Physical Resources at the Chicago and Schaumburg campuses during 2015. Rebecca and Shannon managed the Wabash Building’s fifth floor rooftop gardens, while Mary and then Sarah stewarded the RU Community Garden at the Schaumburg Campus during its fourth season and helped the campus achieve Level 1 Arboretum Accreditation through the prestigious Morton Arboretum in Lisle IL. Mary and Sarah also managed a comprehensive effort to tag all of the trees on campus, some of which had to be removed due to emerald ash borer impacts. That work built upon the Schaumburg Campus’ previous designations as an NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat and a National Arbor Foundation Tree Campus USA, efforts led by SUST major Mary Beth Radeck in 2013.

Senior Reece Krishnan began the revitalization of the student organization RU Green in Fall 2015 by recruiting students interested in doing service and outreach projects in Spring 2016. Senior Maria Cancilla volunteered many hours working in the WB Rooftop Garden during the summer and fall, and was a key student leader on the STARS Reporting Team as well as the Environmental Sustainability Committee. Sophomore Yessenia Balcazar joined the Education and Outreach action group of the Environmental Sustainability Committee.

SUST major Shannon Conway in Copenhagen, Denmark, Summer 2015

SUST major Shannon Conway in Copenhagen, Denmark, Summer 2015

Internships and Study Abroad Experiences: In addition to those mentioned above, other SUST majors pursued professional or academic internships and/or studied abroad during 2015.

  • Cassidy Avent interned during the summer of 2015 with the SCARCE recycling organization in Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Melanie Blume (BA ’15) was the first RU intern to work at the Spring Valley Nature Center and Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg, IL, and chronicled her experiences in a series of posts for the SUST Blog.
  • Maria Cancilla worked as a STARS intern in the Department of Physical Resources in Fall 2015, and was a major contributor to RU’s first STARS assessment report submitted in December 2015.
  • Shannon Conway (BA ’15) traveled this past summer to Denmark and Iceland, learning about glaciers and climate change with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad.
  • Colleen Dennis (BA ’15) worked in the botany department of the Field Museum photo-archiving plant specimens in Spring 2015.
  • Laura Miller Hill was RU’s first sustainability management intern at the Field Museum during the Summer and Fall of 2015 and chronicled her work in a series of SUST blog posts.
  • Jennifer Paddack and Emily Rhea headed for the tropics to do summer marine conservation internships in Hawaii with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, an experience which Emily chronicled on the SUST Blog.
  • Emily Rhea also worked at The Plant on Chicago’s South Side during the Fall 2015 semester as an urban agriculture intern.

Lindsey Sharp at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago IL (Nov 2015)Fellowships and Awards: Rebecca Quesnell (BA ’15) was selected as the 2014-15 recipient of the Outstanding Student Award for academic achievement and leadership in Sustainability Studies at the annual College of Professional Studies student awards ceremony last April. Lindsey Sharp (at left) won a prestigious Travis Fellowship at RU for the 2015-16 academic year and is applying to graduate school in conservation biology. Colleen Dennis (BA ’15) received a 2015 award from Roosevelt’s RISE social activism student organization. Senior Diana Zak won RU’s Bike2Campus challenge in Spring 2015. Franklin Honor Society honors this year went to graduates Melanie Blume, Karen Craig, Kelsey Norris, and Rebecca Quesnell.

Tiffany Mucci head shotResearch and Creative Work: Tiffany Mucci (pictured at right) helped launch and is the co-editor of the new Writing Urban Nature initiative, described above. Tiffany and her fellow SUST majors Karen Craig (BA ’15) and Korey Jones contributed essays to this environmental humanities project.

Eden Place Nature Center, Nov 2015 (M. Bryson)

SUST 350 students working with volunteer director Troy Howard (far right) at Eden Place Nature Center, Nov 2015 (M. Bryson)

Service Learning: Students in the Fall 2015 offering of the SUST 350 Service & Sustainability service learning course worked at Eden Place Nature Center in the South Side neighborhood of Fuller Park. This was the 2nd collaboration between Eden Place and RU since a student community research team in a Spring 2012 Sustainable Future honors seminar did site visits to the Fuller Park neighborhood in spring of 2012 for the Institute of Cultural Affairs Accelerate 77 Project.

This fall, under the direction of EPNC volunteer director Troy Howard, SUST 350 Service students built trails, pulled weeds, hauled straw bales, removed invasive plants, collected and turned compost, repaired fences, cleared trash, cleaned eggs, prepared the grounds for Octoberfest activities, brainstormed environmental education activities, and helped on all manner of daily farm chores whether working independently or side-by-side with EPNC staff and volunteers.

The outdoor classroom at Eden Place, where we discussed weekly readings before starting our work projects (M. Bryson, Sept 2015)

The outdoor classroom of Eden Place, where we discussed weekly readings before starting our work projects (M. Bryson, Sept 2015)

Cleaning eggs harvested at the Eden Place Farm, 1 Dec 2015

Cleaning eggs harvested at the Eden Place Farm, 1 Dec 2015

In the process, SUST 350 students became intimately familiar with the land and animals of this amazing 3.4-acre privately owned nature center and green space, the only one of its kind on the city’s South Side, and got to visit Eden Place’s newer 3-acre farm site about a half-mile south. Best of all, perhaps, was the opportunity to regularly meet and talk with Eden Place co-founders and legendary Chicago environmental/community activists, Michael and Amelia Howard.

New Media and Communications: Starting in the Fall of 2015, SUST senior Tiffany Mucci became Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU Blog for the 2015-16 school year. She also serves as the co-editor of the Writing Urban Nature online environmental humanities project. Many other SUST students and alumni contributed posts to the SUST at RU Blog, including Melanie Blume (BA ’15), Shannon Conway (BA ’15), Cheryl Green (BPS ’14), Laura Miller HillEmily Rhea, Lindsey Sharp, and Sarah Tag (BA ’15). Senior Diana Zak had this guest post published on the Angelic Organics Learning Center website. Several dozen students in SUST 210 and 240 classes wrote posts and conducted research for the ever-expanding Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future blog/website.

Social media loomed large on Earth Day at Roosevelt, as SUST director Mike Bryson led a RU-sponsored Twitter conversation on social justice and campus sustainability with students Tiffany Mucci, Laura Miller Hill, and Doug Griffin, and CAS Assistant Dean and communications guru Juli Rowen. After being completely redesigned and expanded in 2013 by Mary Beth Radeck and managed by SUST majors and Physical Resources interns Mary Rasic (BPS ’15) and Sarah Tag (BA ’15), the RU Green Campus website and its accompanying blog remain vital communication tools for the RU community.

Alumni News

SUST graduate Karen Craig (Dec 2015)

New SUST graduate Karen Craig was a Franklin Honor Society recipient (Dec 2015)

Special congratulations go to the 13 SUST majors who comprised the graduating class of 2015! Thus far in the program’s history since its start in 2010, 51 students have earned bachelor’s degrees in sustainability studies from Roosevelt. May 2015 graduates were Melanie Blume*‡, Colleen Dennis†, Jordan Ewbank, Ana Molledo, Kelsey Norris*‡, Beeka Quesnell*†‡, and Jesse Williams. December graduates included Shannon Conway, Karen Craig‡, Tom Lewallen, Sera Sousley, Sarah Tag, and Michelle Trispel. (*with honors; †Green Key Society; ‡Franklin Honor Society)

Zarakyah Ben Sar Ahmadiel, aka Troy Withers (BPS ’13), promotes nutrition and health to youth; he works at the South Side restaurant/catering business Soul Vegan as well as Donald Morrill Elementary School in Chicago.

Cameron Christian - GreenCorps croppedChristian Cameron (BA ’14), pictured at left, is a Youth Mentor for the conservation and environmental restoration organization, GreenCorps Chicago. In 2014 he worked as a youth mentor teaching high school juniors and seniors about urban agriculture and bicycle mechanics. This past year Christian’s also worked in the adult program, which offers numerous skills, certifications, and training within the ecological restoration industry. He does restoration work in forest preserves all over the Cook County region.

Tim Conway (BA ’13), a former marine inspector with the Chicago Park District, now works as a research analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Angi Cornelius (BA ’13) is an independent designer and builder in Peoria, IL.

Karen Craig (BA ’15) is Manager of Special Events and Dining Operations at the Art Institute in Chicago.

Dennis CColleen Dennis (BA ’15), pictured at right, is a Research Assistant in the Keller Science Action Center at the Field Museum of Natural History, where she works on expanding the museum’s photodatabase collection of neotropical plant specimens, developing rapid color guides for field identification of plants, and other biodiversity research projects.

Stephanie Eisner (BA ’13) is a sustainability analyst and financial administrator at Old World Industries in Northbrook, IL. During 2014 she worked as a Logistics Coordinator at Green Iowa Americorps in Des Moines IA, and then participated in the RU sustainability planning workshops in Fall 2014. In the summer of 2015 she created the Roosevelt University Sustainability Studies Alumni group on LinkedIn.

Jordan Ewbank (BA ’15) traveled to Costa Rica for an internship offered by a non-profit research group known as CIRENAS (Centro de Investigacion de Recursos Naturales y Sociales, or the Center for Social and Natural Resource Investigation). He helped CIRENAS build their new research campus, a living laboratory for permaculture research in the tropics. Jordan spent approximately two months living mostly off of the grid, planting literally hundreds of trees, and completing research projects on permaculture, including biochar methods and improving soil condition with animal rotations.

Cheryl Green (BPS '14)Cheryl Green (BPS ’14), pictured at left, works as a Project Specialist at GE Energy Management’s Digital Energy Division, within their Power Delivery group. She wrote this guest essay for the SUST Blog about her new position and her SUST education at Roosevelt.

Michael Magdongon (BPS ’13) interned during Summer 2013 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. He runs his own business (Mag Auto Imaging), works as a financial planner, and is applying to international MBA programs.

Allison Mayes (BA ’13) is a Post Closing Escrow Associate at Chicago Title.

Jessie Crow Mermel (BPS ’12) is Communications Director and On-Farm Educator 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.

IMG_0865Bridget Powers (BA ’14), pictured at right, secured an AmeriCorps post working at a Boys and Girls Club on the Northern Cheyenne Nation’s Reservation in Wyoming in 2015. She spent this year writing grants, developing environmental education curriculum, leading field trips for children, and contributing to various community development projects on the reservation.

Rebecca Quesnell (BA ’15) was hired as RU’s first Sustainability Operations Coordinator in summer 2015. She works in the Department of Physical Resources on RU’s sustainability initiatives, and was part of the STARS Reporting Team in the fall of 2015. Rebecca also convenes the university’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, which is open to all students, faculty, and staff.

Steven Roberts (BPS ’12) moved from Charlotte, NC, with his family for a new position as senior application analyst with Scripps Health in San Diego, CA. He is looking for volunteering opportunities in urban planning and transit organizations. Congratulations to Stephen and his wife, who celebrated the arrival of their 3rd child, Lucy June Roberts, born September 4th, 2014.

Skot Rogers (BPS ’14) is a consultant in Business Analysis in New York City, where he tests inventory/sales software and producing training materials.

Ben SchulmanBen Schulman (BPS ’12), pictured at left, is finishing up an MA in Communications at UIC and is Communications and Investor Relations Director at (Not So) Small Change in Chicago. Ben also edits the Design section of the Chicago magazine, New City, and is a widely-published freelance blogger and editor.

Alan Swartz (SUST minor, BS Chemistry ’14) is a Research Associate and Graduate Teaching Assistant while pursuing his PhD in chemistry at the University of Chicago.

Ron Taylor (photo: M. Bryson)Ron Taylor (BPS ’13), pictured at right in 2013, won the 2014 Outstanding Student Award in SUST and is former Director of Federal Business Development at the Chicago-based IT firm IYKA Enterprises. He is currently pursuing municipality-based sustainability positions.

Jeff Wasil (BPS ’12) is an Emissions Compliance Engineer at Bombardier Recreation Products Evinrude Product Development Center. 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) worked as a research assistant for the Emerging Pathogens Project and then in the Public Outreach office at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL. In 2015, she and her husband relocated to the Washington, DC area.

Faculty Activities and Accomplishments

City Creatures coverMike Bryson, SUST Co-founder and Program Director, was promoted to Professor of Sustainability Studies in April 2015. He offered two new SUST special topics courses during 2015: The Sustainable Campus (spring), in which students did the original research for RU’s first STARS assessment report; and Writing Urban Nature (summer), a one-week intensive field-based course that resulted in the Writing Urban Nature online project launched in Fall 2015. His essay “Canoeing through History: Wild Encounters on Bubbly Creek,” was published this fall in the book City Creatures (University of Chicago Press, 2015), part of this urban environmental humanities book/blog/art exhibit project by the Center for Humans and Nature. In another CHN-sponsored project, Bryson co-wrote an essay with Chicago environmental justice activist and nature educator Michael Howard, director of Eden Place Nature Center on the city’s South Side. He and co-editor Tiffany Mucci, a SUST senior, launched the Writing Urban Nature online project in September 2015. In concert with the SUST Program’s move to the College of Arts & Sciences in 2015, Bryson founded the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab (noted above) and was part of the STARS Reporting Team that submitted RU’s first sustainability assessment in  2015.

GerberichVicki Gerberich, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies, taught SUST 230 Food online for the first time in Fall 2015, and offered three field trips that semester. One was to Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia IL, as recounted in this essay posted on the Angelic Organics blog by SUST major Diana Zak.

Hoffman portraitMichele Hoffman Trotter, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies, is on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Association for Marine Education & Research and is Director of Advancement and Education for the organization. She continued her groundbreaking research and filming for her exciting marine science documentary, Microcosm, which has taken her to Hawaii, Puget Sound, Alaska, Nova Scotia, and other locations afield to interview scientists and visit different marine ecosystems. Here in Chicago, she’s collaborating with scientists at the Shedd Aquarium and Columbia College on conducting lab experiments and filming microscopic marine processes.

Our Energy FutureCarla Jones, Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies, has co-authored Our Energy Future, an introductory textbook on the study of energy production, alternative and renewable fuels, and ways to build a sustainable energy future. Available in Feb 2016 from the Univ. of CA Press, the text explores the creation and history of fossil fuels, their impact on the environment, and how they have become critical to our society. The authors also outline how adopting sustainable biofuels will be key to the future of energy stability and discuss a number of renewable energy options and biofuel feedstocks that are replacements for petroleum-based products. Jones teaches online versions of SUST 210 Sustainable Future, 220 Water, 310 Energy & Climate Change, and 330 Biodiversity.

Adjunct Professor of Sustainability Studies Carolyn Persoon is an environmental scientist at the EPA Region 5 Office in Chicago, where she works on a pollution regulatory policy and enforcement. Persoon teaches SUST 230 Food online and at the Chicago Campus.

Julian Kerbis Peterhans in the mammals lab at the Field Museum in Chicago

Julian Kerbis Peterhans in the mammals lab at the Field Museum in Chicago

Julian Kerbis Peterhans, Professor of Natural Science, worked on analyzing specimens and publishing results from his 2015 research expedition to Kenya. His SUST 330 Biodiversity course at Roosevelt is regularly 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. Peterhans frequently hosts behind-the-scenes tours of the FMNH and is an active conservation scholar/educator here and abroad.

Pickren GGraham Pickren was hired in 2015 as Assistant Professor of Sustainability Studies and taught SUST 240 and 320 in his first semester at Roosevelt this fall. He was part of the STARS Reporting Team this fall and also conducted a waste audit of the WB dorm with students in his 240 Waste class. Pickren’s research interests converge around three interrelated themes: an urban political ecology approach to the study of digital technologies and the infrastructure of the internet; an interest in green political economy and debates about sustainability; and a constructive engagement with environmental governance and policy, specifically around the role of markets in driving socio-environmental change.

Programs, Field Trips, and Campus Events

2015 was a busy and exciting year on many fronts at both Roosevelt campuses in terms of sustainability events, initiatives, field trips, 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.

Earth Week 2015 was the biggest ever at Roosevelt, as we heralded the early spring with a range of activities at both campuses, including the Chicago Bike2Campus competition, a screening and faculty-led discussion of the film Plastic Paradise, an e-waste recycling drive, an organic food prep/juicing workshop, a bike repair workshop, an Earth Day Twitter chat on the relation of social justice and campus sustainability, a tree planting activity at the Schaumburg Campus, and the biannual SUST Student Symposium. Many SUST majors, particularly Environmental Sustainability Associate/Interns Rebecca Quesnell, Mary Rasic, and Shannon Conway, put in a huge amount of work planning and publicizing the Earth Week activities.

Damon Williams (BS '69, physics) and SUST Director Mike Bryson, Sept 2015 (J. Rowen)

Damon Williams (BS ’69, physics) and SUST Director Mike Bryson, Sept 2015 (J. Rowen)

Distinguished RU alum Damon Williams (BS physics, ’69), a civil engineer who has had a successful career as a water/wastewater management professional, most recently in Phoenix, gave a public lecture on 29 Sept 2015 on wastewater treatment, water recycling, urban water conservation in arid environments, current drought and conservation measures in California, and what those issues can teach us about the energy-water-food nexus. After Williams’ presentation, SUST faculty, students, and alumni continued the water and sustainability conversation over dinner.

The RU Community Garden at the Schaumburg Campus capped off a productive 2015 growing season with a potluck dinner on Nov. 24th. As in previous years, the gardeners donated many pounds of produce to the Hanover Park Food Pantry. Meanwhile, the Wabash Rooftop Garden in Chicago produced a plethora of vegetables and herbs, much of which was used in the WB Dining Center.

Students in Prof. Graham Pickren’s Fall 2015 section of SUST 240 Waste conducted a waste audit of the Wabash dormitory on the Chicago Campus. This was the third such student-run audit of the Chicago Campus since the WB opened in Fall 2012, and is one of the key efforts by SUST and the Dept. of Physical Resources to measure and improve the university’s landfill diversion and recycling rates.

SUST students and faculty took numerous field trips and engaged in hands-on learning throughout the Chicago urban and suburban landscape. Notable examples included a canoe trip down Bubbly Creek with Friends of the Chicago River in May (as part of the SUST 390 Writing Urban Nature summer course) and day-long explorations of many other natural ecosystems in the city and suburbs within that class; visits to Chicago and suburban parklands; campus sustainability tours of RU’s Chicago Campus with Physical Resources staff; tours and workdays at sustainable agriculture locations such as Eden Place Nature Center and The Plant in Chicago, and Angelic Organics Learning Center in northcentral IL; behind the scenes tours of biodiversity research and collections, as well as sustainability operations at the Field Museum — and more!

Students in SUST 390 Writing Urban Nature explore Millennium Park, May 2015

Students in SUST 390 Writing Urban Nature explore Millennium Park, May 2015

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