Suitable for All

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.

Civic Data Guides: Thinking Critically about Digital Public Records

Over the past decade public institutions have put considerable resources towards improving the quality and availability of civic data, such as budget and expenditure information, building permits, air quality readings, police incidents, and property ownership records. The agencies behind these efforts claim that data sets alone are sufficient to create transparency, increase civic engagement, foster innovation, and ultimately make our communities more sustainable. However, making civic data accessible does not necessarily make them valuable or actionable. To take effective and ethical action, we need contextual information about the processes involved in creating, managing, and interpreting civic data. In this modular, multi-day tool, you will create an accessible, practical guide to an existing civic data set. Working through the modules below can help you, and subsequently others, engage with civic data in productive ways.

Living Infrastructure: The Atlanta BeltLine

This tool uses stakeholder mapping to explore the various entities that influence and benefit from infrastructure projects. Through a short presentation and reading, students will learn about one specific infrastructure project: the Atlanta BeltLine. The BeltLine, originally conceived as a network of light rail lines connecting the city of Atlanta, is a massive project in both vision and implementation. Since its inception, the vision for the BeltLine has expanded to include objectives for parks, multi-use trails, affordable housing, historic preservation, and economic development. Different groups have influenced these priorities over time.

Community Engagement Preparation and Reflection Tool

This tool provides instructors with two assignments that 1) prepare students to engage with community partners, and 2) allow students to reflect upon their community engagement experience. The two assignments that comprise this tool are tailored to courses in the SLS Community Health Linked Courses track; however, they are available as editable worksheets. This will allow you to adjust the assignment according to the themes of your course. After students have completed the Reflection assignment, use this tool’s Discussion Guide to lead a conversation about what students have learned from their community engagement experience, and how that learning relates to the course goals.

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.

Co-Curricular Reflection Tool

This tool provides instructors with a focused reflective activity that asks students to make connections between their course and a co-curricular activity. Reflection related to co-curricular activities gives students time and space to critically examine the activity and understand its relevance to their learning in class. Some of the reflection questions require adaptation to suit course objectives.

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. 

Sample Syllabi for SLS-Affiliated Courses

Serve-Learn-Sustain is well on its way to having affiliated courses and projects in every department across Georgia Tech. Below, you will find sample syllabi from disciplines that cross the six colleges and schools. These syllabi include the suggested language for syllabi, and provide models for the different ways that you can incorporate SLS into your own courses.

Learning More About Community Organizations

This presentation tool, based on a lesson created by Yelena Rivera-Vale and Kristina Chatfield for their GT 1000 course, introduces first year students to community organizations working on initiatives in the local Atlanta area. Interviewing members, actively participating in organizational activities, and then reporting on these experiences allows students a chance to not only further explore the ways that Georgia Tech actively partners with community organizations but also offers a chance to see some of the successes produced by these partnerships first-hand.

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