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.
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!
Are heat waves simply natural disasters over which we have no control? With heat waves set to increase over the coming decades, how can we fight this invisible killer? In this case study, head back to 1995 Chicago, when one of the deadliest heat waves in US history struck the city, killing hundreds. Learn about the demographics that were particularly vulnerable to the heat wave, and how those vulnerabilities made this heat wave (and others like it) not just a natural disaster, but a social one. After reading this case study and an interview transcript with one of the experts on the 1995 Chicago heat wave, turn to the Discussion Questions to think about how social networks and the built environment can protect us during heat waves now and in the future.
In preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) faced an unprecedented design challenge: create an 80,000 capacity stadium with the flexibility to be converted to a 25,000 capacity venue after the Games, and do this while achieving the ODA’s sustainability objectives. In the case study below, you’ll discover how they achieved the brief through innovative design and engineering. Furthermore, you’ll use this tool to learn more about how you, too, can make difficult design choices without compromising sustainability. To that end, this tool introduces you to the Multi-Criteria Decision Matrix, or, Values-based Decision Making.
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:
What EJ is – and what environmental injustices are;
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;
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.
This tool uses the ReGenesis case study from Spartanburg, South Carolina, to explore what it means to “create sustainable communities” through broad stakeholder engagement. Spartanburg was found to be experiencing higher levels of health issues due to chemical plants and other polluting factors in the area. ReGenesis, a community-based organization led by community member Harold Mitchell – now a member of the South Carolina legislature – worked with the EPA to use their Collaborative Problem Solving methodology to expose the inequity and turn the community around.
This tool was contributed by Kari Watkins and Delaney Rickles. The affiliated case study, "ReGenesis—A Practical Application of the CPS Model," was written by the EPA.
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.
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.