Inequality, Poverty and Sustainable Development

SLS Case Study: The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech promises to be a flexible, multi-use academic space as well as the most environmentally advanced educational and research building in the Southeast. In this case study, learn about what it means for the Kendeda Building to receive certification as a “living building.” Serve-Learn-Sustain interprets sustainable communities as integrated systems, wherein environment, economy, and society all inform each other. As you read this case study, consider these terms as discrete factors, but also as connected. 

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.

Stratification Monopoly: A Comparative Perspective

Some of the major challenges in teaching about economic inequality and mobility are a) understanding the differences between income and wealth, as well as other types of economic resources; b) encouraging students to be empathetic to those who have a different economic standing than their own; c) the connections between income and wealth in producing economic mobility; and d) understanding how the income and wealth distributions across different countries shape opportunity for mobility in a comparative context. The purpose of this tool is to help students begin to understand:

  1. The primary differences in income and wealth, and how they relate to economic mobility; 
  2. How your place in the economic system can affect opportunities for economic mobility;
  3. How variation in the income and wealth distributions of different countries can affect opportunities for economic mobility.

This tool was contributed by Allen Hyde.

Introduction to Equitable and Sustainable Development

This tool uses the Atlanta BeltLine project to introduce students to key concepts in Equitable and Sustainable Development, particularly as it pertains to large infrastructure projects. Through a combination of take-home readings, lecture, and in-class group activity, students will explore the successes, and critiques of the BeltLine project. Equally important, they will learn to define what infrastructure means, what it does, and how we can impact its development in order to achieve equity and sustainability.

This tool was created by Bethany Jacobs and Dave Ederer. 

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.

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. 

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.

SLS Case Study: The Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis is one of the most significant instances of environmental injustice in the 21st century.  In this case study, read about the impact of the crisis on the natural world, as well as the residents of Flint, Michigan, and learn about how we can use technology to create a safe, sustainable water system. Serve-Learn-Sustain interprets sustainable communities as integrated systems, wherein nature, technology and society all inform each other. As you read this case study, consider these terms as discrete factors, but also as connected.

This tool was contributed by Bethany Jacobs. 

Urban Farming & Community Gardens

Starting a community garden in an abandoned vacant lot is a good way to address blight in a neighborhood. This project builds on the dataset of Westside Atlanta property surveys and walks the students through the process of starting a community garden to selling its produce on farmers markets. It emphasizes the social aspect of community building and the importance of buying local.

An Intro to Community Health

Community health is the state of wellbeing of a group of individuals who share common attitudes, beliefs, interests, histories, and/or goals. Use this tool to explore what it means to optimize the health and quality of life of community members in a socially just and holistic way. Students will learn the many factors that contribute to the health of individuals and communities, as well as the people and resources that influence the health of a community. The discussion questions will aid students in breaking down the complexities of community health, as well as understanding their role in contributing to potential solutions.

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