Environmental Justice & Citizen Science

The Rhetorics and Poetics of Dirt

This course asks students to examine what we talk about when we talk about “dirt,” and how do the things we communicate about dirt change its presence in our lives. The major assignments facilitate learning goals through four units: dirt vs. soil, earthworks, dirt stories, and trendy dirt. The primary texts in this course will largely deal with a North American perspective on dirt. We will engage with American film (ex: Grapes of Wrath, Waterworld, Noma, Interstellar, The Martian, the Mad Max megaverse), and contemporary American literature.

Proctor Creek Wildlife Assessment Course

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is collaborating with Georgia Tech's College of Sciences and Serve-Learn-Sustain Program to create a summer course that introduces students to ecological monitoring techniques through collecting wildlife data within the Proctor Creek watershed. Located less than a mile from Georgia Tech's campus, the historic Proctor Creek neighborhood has been the focus of a community-led effort to restore streams within the watershed.

Chemical Principles II Laboratory

The laboratory portion of this course focuses on foundational principles and essential techniques of chemistry.  These conceptual and technical tools have great relevance to many issues of importance to society, including climate change, human health, economic security, and more. SLS-related experiments in CHEM 1212K will be related to five threads of sustainability in chemistry: Green Chemistry, Chemistry and Society, Everyday Chemical Analysis, Computational Chemistry, and Climate Change.

Habitable Planet

The search for life beyond the Earth is reaching new heights. So what are we looking for, and how will we know when we find it? This course will explore the history of the solar system and the Earth as the one example of a habitable planet—one that can support living organisms—that we know now. We will consider how the planets formed, the important planetary processes that brought about the Earth as it was when life arose and the planet we live on today.

Society, Equity, and Sustainability

SLS approaches sustainability as an integrated system, linking environment, economy, and society. As an initiative focused on “creating sustainable communities,” we especially emphasize the role that SOCIETY plays in sustainability – and particularly issues of social equity and community voice. You can learn about SLS’ approach to sustainable communities here. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand the SOCIETY part of sustainability. It includes two exercises and resources for learning more.

Student Learning Outcome 3 Rubric

The following rubric assesses SLO 3: Students will be able to evaluate how decisions impact the sustainability of communities. Students who rank highly on this rubric are able to evaluate how a variety of decisions that occur within and outside of communities affect community sustainability. Students can explain/demonstrate how different stakeholders, seeking to achieve different outcomes, can make decisions that create consequences for community sustainability. The consequences of that impact often disproportionately affect marginalized groups.

Communicating Sustainability

In recent years, a variety of disciplines in the sciences have made achieving sustainability one of their foundational values. Scholars within these disciplines have devoted their expertise to developing programs and campaigns for achieving a more sustainable world. But these campaigns need broad public support to succeed, and academic scholarship isn’t always written with a public audience in mind. How can scholars present their ideas so as to make them widely accessible and thus, more successful? This tool will introduce you to important concepts in science communication, and guide you through an analysis of real-world examples of sustainability-related science communication. It also includes wrap-up questions, additional resources, and suggestions for collaborative learning opportunities.

SLS Case Study: Proctor Creek

Proctor Creek runs through northwest Atlanta, extending from I-20 in southwest Atlanta to the Chattahoochee River. An important piece of Atlanta’s natural environment, it also has a long history of neglect and pollution, which has negatively affected its surrounding communities. In this case study, read about this history, as well as new and ongoing development projects in West Atlanta that demand close attention to the Proctor Creek Watershed. Additionally, concepts like Environmental Justice and Citizen Science will provide a lens for thinking about issues related to the creek and how to protect its surrounding communities. 

Urban Heat Islands and the Georgia Tech Climate Network

Extreme heat leads to more deaths in the US than all other natural disasters combined, and as global temperatures rise, so will the dangers. Urban areas, such as Georgia Tech’s campus, are of primary concern because of the urban heat island effect – the phenomenon in which cities are warmer than nearby rural areas.

Georgia Tech needs your help! This tool will teach you more about the urban heat island effect. You’ll identify real-world urban heat islands on the Georgia Tech campus and propose strategies to reduce temperatures at these campus hot spots. We encourage you to send your recommendations to Georgia Tech’s Urban Climate Lab for consideration! 

Environmental Justice 101

Environmental Justice (EJ) is concerned with making sure that (a) no community takes on an unfair share of environmental burdens and (b) environmental benefits are shared in an equitable way regardless of race, class, gender, or orientation. The Environmental Justice Movement challenges environmental injustices, with a special focus on racial and class disparities, in the U.S. and around the globe. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand:

  1. What EJ is – and what environmental injustices are; 
  2. How the EJ movement works to address EJ issues (especially in the U.S. South, where the movement was born) with close attention to injustices related to race and class;
  3. The different types of roles that scientists and engineers in particular can play in this work.

This tool was contributed by Jennifer Hirsch. We also want to thank Fatemeh Shafiei from Spelman College for contributing to this tool.

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