Our World Underwater Dive & Travel Expo this Weekend in Rosemont, Feb. 24-26

Michele H-F filming underwater

SUST prof Michele Hoffman Trotter in her natural element: filming underwater!

Looking for a fun and exciting way to spend the weekend? Head on down to the annual Our World Underwater: Dive and Travel Exposition, which runs from Feb. 24-26 at the Donald Stephens Center in Rosemont, IL.

On February 25th, SUST prof Michele Hoffman Trotter will be presenting a short film entitled Mysteries of the Arctic Realm. The film will feature clips from the remote Chuckchi Sea, a dynamic region exploding with life from iconic polar bears to the elusive ribbon seal. Under the ice, a hidden universe is revealed, one that is brimming with jellies, zooplankton, and many surprising discoveries that you won’t want to miss.

Michele Hoffman Trotter, alongside her colleague Annie Crawley, will also be on hand during the expo to give demonstrations and to help kids of all ages learn about the underwater world. Join them and get the chance to explore shark jaws, look at specimens collected in the Arctic, create sea life origami, or make ocean themed cupcakes. This year, Annie and Michele will be joined by their friends from The Grove National Historic Landmark, who will provide a live animal experience and educate visitors about Illinois local waterways.

ourworldunderwater2017Get your tickets today and bring your family, friends, casual acquaintances, frenemies, and everyone else down to the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont for the Our World Underwater: Dive and Travel Exposition. The exposition runs from Feb. 24th to the 26th starting at 5pm on Friday and 10am on Saturday & Sunday. Get your tickets here. 


Posted in activities, biodiversity, ecology, education, events, faculty, science, water

Fall 2017 Course Preview for SUST 350 Service & Sustainability at Eden Place Nature Center

First SUST 350 workday at EPNC, 2 Sept 2014 (M. Bryson)

First SUST 350 workday at EPNC, 2 Sept 2014 (M. Bryson)

This coming fall semester (2017) the Sustainability Studies program once again offers a unique transformational service learning course, SUST 350 Service and Sustainability, at the Chicago Campus as well as online. Taught by SUST professor Mike Bryson, the course theme this fall is Urban Sustainability, Environmental Conservation, Community Development.

  • Title/number: SUST 350 Service and Sustainability (sections 01 Chicago and 98 online)
  • Semester offered: Fall 2017
  • Location: Chicago Campus / Eden Place Nature Center (sec. 01) or online (sec. 98)
  • Day/time: Tues 10am-1pm (sec. 01)
  • Pre-req: UWR

SUST majors and minors may take this class to fulfill an upper-level SUST 3xx requirement, but 350 also is open to students at large seeking a service learning course, needing a general education course, or desiring elective credit.

Experiential Learning Options: Off-Campus and Online

Students interested in a sustainability-focused service learning experience can choose either of two options. These two sections of SUST 350 are cross-listed, so they share a common Blackboard (Bb) site; thus, students in both sections will be able to interact with and learn from each other online.

  • On-campus section (01) — Students in this section will meet weekly for a 10am-1pm class session in Chicago. The initial class meeting will be at RU’s Chicago Campus; subsequent class meetings will take place off-site at Eden Place Nature Center, accessible via the CTA’s Red Line. We will meet in the WB Lobby at 9:30am and take the Red Line to Eden Place (47th St stop); then return to RU by 1:30pm.
  • Online section (98) — Students do the majority of coursework online in Bb and are required to complete a community-based service project of their own choosing, with guidance from and approval by the instructor. The project may be online or in-person; the latter option could be based in the student’s home community. Online students are also encouraged to join the on-campus students on any workdays at Eden Place throughout the semester, as a way to get “in the field” service experience on Chicago’s South Side.
  • Both sections will interact with each other in Bb to discuss readings, review assignments, and share experiences as a way to create a dynamic SUST 350 community.

Course Theme: Urban Sustainability, Environmental Conservation, and Community Development

SUST 350 focuses on one of sustainability’s “Three Es” — social Equity — within the broad context of Environmental stewardship and Economic development.  Students will learn about several interrelated components of sustainability — urban space reclamation, food production, ecological restoration, and environmental education — in the context of urban neighborhoods and ecosystems. By doing hands-in-the-dirt labor at the Eden Place Nature Center (EPNC) in the South Side neighborhood of Fuller Park, students gain direct knowledge of small-scale urban agricultural systems as well as relevant urban social justice issues such as pollution, transportation barriers, food deserts, environmental racism, ecosystem restoration, and persistent poverty.

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

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

An urban farm is about food, but so much more besides. The Fuller Park community is an economically stressed neighborhood that is bisected by the Dan Ryan expressway and bounded by railroads on its eastern and western borders. Here, an urban farm and community nature center is a source of freshly grown, organic produce; a training ground for local youth in need of practical job skills; a stop valve in the Cradle-to-Prison pipeline; a gathering place for people of all ages in the community for physical exercise, informal education, and social events; a demonstration site for sustainable agricultural and ecological restoration techniques; a model of economic development on a local, sustainable scale; and a means of reconnecting urban folk to the natural world. More generally, in urban areas starved for jobs, green space, safe outdoor gathering places, and fresh quality food, enterprises like Eden Place productively and powerfully address the need for social equity and progressive change.

Hauling fence at EPNC, 9 sept 2014 (C. Dennis)

Hauling fence at EPNC, 9 Sept 2014 (C. Dennis)

One key focus will be on helping with various urban agriculture and environmental restoration projects at Eden Place Nature Center at 4417 S. Stewart, as well as at the Eden Place Farm at 4911 S. Shields. A typical day consists of meeting at the WB Lobby at 9:30am to take the Red Line to EPNC (students have the option of commuting there directly to meet at 10am); convening at 10am for discussion of assigned readings and, later in the semester, informal student presentations; and then working with Eden Place staff on various environmental, farm, and/or public education projects according to the needs and schedule of Eden Place.

Planting trees at EPNC, 2 Dec 2014 (M. Bryson)

Planting trees at EPNC, 2 Dec 2014 (M. Bryson)

The vast majority of class work takes place outside, regardless of weather. In past semesters, students have built trails, planted trees, pulled weeds, raked leaves, managed compost piles, helped set up activities and structures for Octoberfest, repaired and installed fences, and many other chores/activities. We also interacted with EPNC staff to learn about their mission and vision for the future. Last but not least, we always take a little time each week to visit with EPNC’s many animals, including Gaga the goat (who loved to intervene during our roundtable discussions in the gazebo by raiding our lunch boxes and, in one famous instance, eating a student’s notes).

Partner Organization: Eden Place Nature Center

From the Eden Place website:

Eden Place

Michael Howard teaches schoolchildren from Chicago’s South Side how to plant (photo: EPNC)

“In 1997, community member, founder, and Executive Director of Fuller Park Community Development Michael Howard [pictured at left] was concerned about the serious lead poisoning problems affecting the neighborhood children. Through research he discovered that Fuller Park contained the highest lead levels in the city of Chicago. As a community leader he wanted to make some serious changes for the sake of his family and his entire neighborhood, and he decided that this work would start with the illegal dumpsite located across the street from his home.

“Mounds of waste over two stories tall encompassed the entire three acres of land. Mr. Howard acquired the deed for the land and involved the community in a large scale, three year clean-up of the dumpsite. Alongside his wife and fellow activist Amelia, and in partnership with hundreds of volunteers and community members, Mr. Howard led a clean-up project in which more than 200 tons of waste including concrete, wood, tires and other toxin-laced materials were removed from the site.

Talking with EPNC founder and director, Mr. Michael Howard, 2 Dec 2014 (M. Bryson)

“Upon clean-up of the site, the next step was development.  Tons of fresh soil were brought in to establish the Great Lawn, and the Hope Mound was established as the first permanent fixture on Eden Place.  South Point Academy trainees contributed a number of early structures to the Eden Place grounds, including the gazebo, DuSable Trading Post, and the storage sheds.  The Mighty Oak and other surrounding trees formed the woodland at the north end of the property, including a reflecting pond meant to encourage reflection and respite from the urban surroundings.

“In May of 2004, Eden Place was honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness with The Conservation and Native Landscaping Award. The winners were recognized for their extensive and creative use of natural landscaping to support native plants and animals that contribute to the region’s biodiversity.  That same month, Eden Place was filmed for a PBS special documentary called Edens Lost & Found.  This documentary profiles activists and organizations in Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago who are attempting to ‘improve the quality of life and public health by encouraging community and civic engagement through the restoration of their urban ecosystems.’

Photo: Eden Place Nature Center

Photo: Eden Place Nature Center

“Eden Place has continued to develop and grow with the support and recognition of local leaders and organizations.  We have worked to raise awareness amongst community members about the environmental problems that have affected their families for years.  Local residents are making connections with nature like never before, and they are feeling a sense of community pride like never before.  However, our work in the community is not finished.  More than 3/5 of the local area is comprised of abandoned lots where homes and various industries once thrived, and Fuller Park residents still carry the burden of one of the highest local lead contents in the city.  Through our partnership with local and national conservation organizations such as the Chicago Zoological Society, the Audubon Society, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, Chicago Wilderness, Openlands, and NeighborSpace, we will continue to establish green community space and education that will improve the health and well-being of our community.”

For more information on this unique service learning course, please contact Prof. Mike Bryson (mbryson@roosevelt.edu or 312-281-3148).

Posted in agriculture, biodiversity, cities, community, conservation, courses, education, food, restoration, Roosevelt, service, social justice, students

Fall 2017 Course Preview for SUST 330 Biodiversity at the Field Museum

This coming Fall 2017 semester the Sustainability Studies program will offer a special section of SUST 330 Biodiversity that meets at the Field Museum of Natural History on Thursdays from 9am to 1pm.

Overview of SUST 330 at the Field Museum

SUST major Lindsey Sharp in the FMNH mammalogy lab, Fall 2015 (photo: J. Kerbis)

SUST major Lindsey Sharp in the FMNH mammalogy lab, Fall 2015 (photo: J. Kerbis)

Taught by Dr. Julian Kerbis Peterhans, professor of natural science at RU and adjunct curator of mammals at the FMNH, this course is an exceptional opportunity to learn about biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability at one of the world’s foremost natural history research museums.

The Field Museum is actually a “Library of Biodiversity” as it has been documenting plant, animal and fossil species of the world for 125 years. As Dr. Kerbis Peterhans notes, “Come join the team at the museum where you will work on these specimens: either sorting, cataloguing, photographing, drawing, databasing, or counting. Let us know if there are a particular group of plants or animals that you are interested in and we will see if we can find you a position.”

Prof. Julian Kerbis Peterhans

Prof. Julian Kerbis Peterhans

SUST 330 includes weekly seminar-style class meetings where students discuss readings and hear from scientists working on biodiversity research in a variety of fields. They then work individually with a scientist in one of the many laboratories/collection departments of the museum, based on their individual interests. Several RU students have secured research internships as well as short-term paid positions following their successful experiences in this course.

For additional information about SUST 330 at the Field Museum, please contact Dr. Kerbis Peterhans (jkerbis@fieldmuseum.org).

Course Registration Information

  • Title/number: SUST 330 Biodiversity (section 01)
  • Semester offered: Fall 2017
  • Location: Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (map here)
  • Day/time: Thursday 9am-1pm
  • Start date: 31 Aug 2017
  • Pre-req: UWR

SUST majors and minors may take this class to fulfill an upper-level SUST requirement, but 330 also is open to students at large who need a general education course in natural science or desire elective credit. It also counts toward the Environmental Science minor for BIOL and CHEM majors.

Posted in biodiversity, conservation, courses, education, faculty, museums, research, Roosevelt, science, students

Sustainability for All: Examining the Relationship between Sustainability and Gentrification

By Moses Viveros

When one thinks about “sustainability” and what it means; one usually conjures up images of green spaces, clean air, and well-maintained land. Typically projects or developments that are considered to be “sustainable” are created with the intention of being beneficial to the environment and to the humans & critters that live within that environment. Unfortunately, these “sustainable” developments or initiatives can have unintended consequences such as accelerating gentrification within a community.

Gentrification can be defined as changes to a community in terms of character or culture by the introduction of new, typically wealthier, residents and new residential or commercial developments. These changes can lead to the displacement of longtime residents through sharp increases in rent and/or property values. Eco-Gentrification can be a a result of increased green/recreational spaces and/or initiatives that aim to control and mitigate pollution within a community.


Coal Plant Campaign in Chicago (source: Sierra Club)

This is an issue as working class communities of color are disproportionately affected by environmental concerns such as poor air quality and exposure to toxic elements from nearby industrial sites. In these same communities we have seen grassroots organizations fight to have their voice heard so that these concerns can be acknowledged and addressed so that people living within that community can enjoy a higher quality of life.

In our own city, we have the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) fought tirelessly for years to get two large coal plants shut down. For the time that the plants were in operation, they were the cause of many health and environmental issues in the surrounding areas. Through hard work, determination, and involvement from the community at large, Pilsen and Little Village were able to get the two coal fired plants to shut down. This was a major victory, but the fight still continues so that longtime community members can continue to live in the place that they have called home for many years.

Residents of both Little Village and Pilsen have been experiencing the effects of gentrification. This has caused concern with local residents as they fear that they will be priced out of their own homes. A new proposed park, El Paseo, similar to the 606 trail on the city’s West Side, has caused concern with community members as they feel that the proposed park will bring on gentrification similar to what residents that lived near the 606 trail experienced. Properties on the west side of the 606 trail that are within half a mile of the path have had their values rise an average of 48.2% since the trail broke ground in 2013. This is a theme that is common throughout many communities across the globe.


Proposed Paseo Trail (source: Chicago.Curbed.Com)

During a travel-based Environmental Justice course that I participated in Fall of 2016, I got to spend some time speaking with community organizers and also learning about how eco-gentrification affects communities in the Pacific Northwest. The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is an area that is home to the highest percent of low-income families in the city. 68% of households in that area have a median income of $11,029 and the area is also home to the highest percent of long-term unemployed individuals.

In 2014, the city of Vancouver introduced the Downtown Eastside Plan, which aims to increase green space and introduce legislation to encourage sustainable building practices in the Downtown Eastside. This plan has been met with resistance from longtime residents as they fear that the proposed plans and developments are not consistent with the needs and values of the community. A majority of concerns have been directed towards upscale businesses that are moving into the area that are driving up the cost of basic services such as a haircut or a meal.

This is not to say that improvements to a neighborhood are bad, especially when they aim to improve the overall quality of life within that area. In order to avoid adverse effects such as gentrification, developers and planners need to consider the people that live within those areas and take in feedback so that they can truly capture the needs and values of that community. By doing so, communities are improving without putting longtime residents at risk of displacement. This can also be known as the “Just Green Enough” concept.

Just Green Enough aims to increase green/recreational spaces and mitigate pollution in an area without putting residents at risk of being displaced. Just Green Enough includes moving away from “big flashy” projects such as parks built by large architecture firms, like the 606 in Chicago or High Line in New York. Just Green Enough is a controversial concept because in order for it to work in the favor of a community, the values and needs of community members need to be captured in order to properly determine what is “Just Green Enough” for that neighborhood. No planner or developer can determine what is “Green Enough” for a community if they have not taken the time to gather feedback from


Park at Tempelhof Airfield Source: Amusing Planet

the people that live within the community that they are looking to work in. A neighborhood in Berlin has rejected plans to redevelop a former airport site into a 4,700 unit residential building and a shopping center. The plan was resisted because community members felt that the plan was not consistent with their own needs and values. Instead, the airport has been developed into a large park which is heavily used by local residents.

There is not a one-size fits all approach when it comes to addressing environmental justice issues. But one thing is for sure and that is everyone has the right to a clean, habitable environment and access to green/recreational spaces. Minority, working class communities have worked hard to improve their communities so that their family, friends, and neighbors can benefit from a higher quality of life. It is not right to let them do all the fighting to bring in a park or air quality improvements and then have a new generation of residents move in and price out longtime residents. This creates a vicious cycle where minority and/or working class individuals are likely to be pushed back into an area where they will continue to be victims of some sort of environmental injustice.

We need to make sure that longtime community members always have a seat at the table where they are allowed to have their voice and concerns heard. This is one of the ways that we can make sure that we are building and improving communities that everyone can call home.

viveros-m-croppedMoses Viveros is a senior SUST major at Roosevelt University and the SUST Program’s Student Associate for 2016-17. As part of this work-study position, he is also serving as the assistant editor for the SUST at RU Blog this year. In the fall semester of 2016, Moses enrolled in Prof. Bethany Barratt’s POS 343 Urban Environmental Justice course, which featured a week-long field trip to Vancouver, BC, as well as various field days in Chicago to study environmental justice issues in particular urban spaces and contexts.

Posted in cities, community, economics, ethics, field trips, green design, parks and public land, planning, policy, Roosevelt, social justice, students

Rooftop: Second Nature — Photo Exhibit Opens in RU’s Gage Gallery on Feb. 9th

Rooftop Second Nature exhibit promo image S17Photographs by Brad Temkin
February 9 – May 6, 2017

Opening reception and talk by Brad Temkin
Thursday, February 9th, 5-7 p.m.

Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery
18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago IL
(312) 341-6458

“Rooftop: Second Nature draws poetic attention to an important new movement to counter the heat island effect caused by city life. Green roofs reduce our carbon footprint and improve storm water control, but they do far more. They reflect the conflict of our existence, symbolizing the allure of nature in the face of our continuing urban sprawl.

My images do more than merely document rooftop gardens. By securely situating the gardens within the steel, stone, and glass rectangularity of urban downtowns, I ask viewers to revel in their far more open patterns, colors, and connection to the sky. In this break, I see not merely beauty and dichotomy, but the framework for positive change.” –Brad Temkin

The elevated landscapes from the Rooftop series represent the judicious reintroduction of nature into urban settings. The photographs reveal that through grace and ingenuity, we may be able to construct a healthier environment and a more responsible infrastructure.

This project, book and exhibition have been embraced by leaders in the field of green architecture, as well as museum curators and collectors. Images have been exhibited in venues in Chicago, Krasnodar, Russia, and the Houston Center for Photography.  The photographs selected for this exhibition were featured in Second Nature: A Survey – Photographs by Brad Temkin at the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, Florida with a supplemental display of images from the Rooftop series at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

“It is important to recognize that Temkin captures, not an unnoticed feature of the built landscape, but a significant shift in architectural expression. This architecture is a new artistic medium in which nature and humanity contribute equally. It represents a departure from the traditions of the past in which buildings were conceived in opposition to nature.” –Roger Schickedantz, from the introduction to the book Rooftop: Photography by Brad Temkin.

Sponsored by the Sustainability Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences,
and Physical Resources Department at Roosevelt University, with generous financial support from Susan B. Rubnitz and Elyse Koren-Camarra.

About the photographer:

Brad Temkin is an award winning Chicago-based photographer who has been documenting human and environmental relationships throughout his career in photography. Widely known for his contemporary landscape images, his work is held in numerous permanent collections, including those of The Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Akron Art Museum, Ohio; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others.

His images have appeared in such publications as Aperture, Black & White Magazine, TIME Magazine and European Photography. A monograph of Mr. Temkin’s work entitled Private Places: Photographs of Chicago Gardens was published in 2005 by Center of American Places. He has been an adjunct professor at Columbia College in Chicago since 1984, and a lecturer and visiting artist at numerous institutions in the United States and abroad. Temkin’s second book entitled ROOFTOP published by Radius Books (www.radiusbooks.org) was released in the Fall of 2015.

Posted in architecture, arts, cities, ecology, education, events, exhibits, green design, humanities, Roosevelt

Talkin’ Trash (and Makin’ Compost) at RU

It’s official — the 8th floor of the Auditorium Building (or, “AUD 8” for short) is now the coolest floor on Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus. Why, you may ask? Well, Physical Resources and the Sustainability Studies Program have just launched a composting pilot project on this floor.

In an effort to further sustainability efforts on campus, the 8th floor will be participating in a 30-day composting pilot. Compost bins are now available in three convenient locations noted in this neato map created by recently graduated business major and honors program student, Tom Smith (BSBA ’16):


  • Southeast Elevator Bank on Michigan
  • Central Stairwell on Congress
  • Northwest Elevator Bank on Wabash

Signs will be located above the compost bins to educate people on what they can and cannot compost. Compost will be accepted throughout the day up until 5pm. At the end of the day, volunteers will pickup collected organic waste, weigh it in RU’s Urban Sustainability Lab so we can track home much food waste we’re diverting from the landfill, and take it to the Wabash Dining Center. Here food waste is composted through a SOMAT waste disposal system, located behind the scenes in the Wabash Dining Center. Once collected and taken offsite, it is converted into compost, with some eventually making it to the Schaumburg Campus to be used in the community garden.


Instructional Signage created by: Thomas Smith

Why is composting important you ask? Organic matter makes up about two-thirds of all refuse in the waste stream. By composting, we can keep organic matter out of landfills that could be used to provide nutrients and helpful micro-organisms to lawns, gardens, and potted plants. Think of compost as a protein shake for your garden. Even more importantly, we reduce the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfilling.

The ultimate goal of the pilot is to research and develop methods to make composting a campus-wide initiative.  The pilot would not have been possible without all the work done by RU alumni and current students, faculty, and members of Physical Resources. We appreciate your participation in this pilot program and welcome any feedback or suggestions that you may have as we get it rolling.

If you have any questions or suggestions, or would be willing to volunteer to perform a compost pickup, please contact Moses Viveros (mviveros@mail.roosevelt.edu), SUST Student Associate.

Posted in activities, education, food, recycling, Roosevelt, students, waste

Calling all Future Conservationists: Doris Duke Program at UM Seeks Applicants for Summer 2017 Program

Applications for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program hosted by University of Michigan are now officially open. This unique program is committed to diversifying the conservation workforce by training the next generation of land, water, and wildlife professionals among traditionally underrepresented groups. Participants in the program have a commitment to becoming a part of and changing the conservation arena, bringing new ways of looking at, understanding, and protecting the earth’s land, water, and wildlife.


Doris Duke Conservation Scholars work hard but have fun, too (photo: DDCSP)

On the first week of the program, participants will travel to Pellston, MI, to explore the University’s Biological Station. During the next seven weeks of the program, participants will work full time on an independent research project. During this time, one will have the ability to gain knowledge and develop skills working closely with staff from Michigan University’s School of Natural Resource and Environment. Some past research projects include “The Effects or Urbanization on Bee Diversity” and “Inequity, Development, and Reform: The Intersections of Environmental Justice within a Sustainable Future.”


2016 Scholar, Emily Murphy, presenting at the 2016 DDCSP Diversity Symposium Source: DDCSP Website

Participants will have the opportunity to gain hands-on conservation experience working with professionals and stakeholders in the environmental field while visiting some of Michigan’s pristine, natural sites. In addition to learning about conservation, participants will also take part in a series of workshops and student led seminars revolving around the topics of diversity and equity in conservation. Concepts such as power, privilege, identity will be examined and discussed.

For those interested in applying, the application deadline is February 8th, 2017. An application form, three essays, and two letters of recommendation are required for one to be considered for the program.

So what are you waiting for? Here is your opportunity to get out there and get your hands dirty while creating some real change!



Posted in conservation, ecology, education, research, restoration, science, social justice, students