Earth Day 4/22: RU Alumni Talk Sustainability

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

This Earth Day, April 22nd, join alumni of Roosevelt’s Sustainability Studies (SUST) program as they talk about the sustainability work they do in their jobs, communities, and personal lives, as well as reflect on the meaning of Earth Day. Since its founding in 2010 as the Chicago area’s first sustainability-focused bachelor’s degree, the SUST program’s more than 100 alumni have pursued a wide variety of career pathways, community and environmental service projects, and creative endeavors.

Please join Dr. Mike Bryson, Professor and Director of Sustainability Studies in Roosevelt’s College of Arts & Sciences, as he hosts two virtual roundtable conversations on Earth Day with SUST alumni. Learn about how sustainability plays a role in their current jobs, get inspired by their service and activism, and engage in thoughtful discussion about the state of the world in 2021 and its sustainable future. Two roundtables are scheduled: the first at 1pm…

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Building a Sustainable and Resilient Environment

RU Schaumburg senior bio major Sylwia Kmiec blogs about her work in SUST 350 Service & Sustainability this semester.

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

by Sylwia Kmiec for SUST 350

Part of creating a sustainable and resilient environment is to improve and protect the quality of this place we call home, through the elimination of all the harm humans cause. This idea is explored in an interesting experiment conducted by a woman named Jane Poynter. This experiment involved the containment of a number of individuals in biospheres, where only nature was present as a resource to sustain life. These humans were essentially forced to interact with the natural resources within the biosphere enclosure in order to survive.

In her presentation on biospheres, Poynter suggests that we are all part of the same biosphere in which everyone has a designated role to play on earth. Each human being is like a piece of a puzzle. Our job as inhabitants of the earth is to discover what that role is and carry out our duties accordingly.

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Volunteering as a Bridge to a Lost World

What are students in SUST 350 Service & Sustainability doing this fall? Check out this blog essay by Chrissy Rado to find out; and stay tuned for more throughout the F19 semester!

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

By Christine Rado for SUST 350

When I was a kid, we didn’t volunteer. We weren’t necessarily “poor,” per se, but we weren’t exactly middle class either. We did struggle, as did many families ran by a single mother. Therefore, volunteering to help the community was not put on our priority list, and I grew up none the wiser. As I became an adult, however, I realized there are people out there who really struggled. More so than we did, such as with poverty, class and racial issues. You’d think these issues would get better as we humans evolved, but this past decade has really shined a spotlight for me on some serious issues that need healing.

Changing my major here at Roosevelt University to Sustainability Studies in 2017 and the education I have received thus far has made these issues that much more clear. We need fewer people blaming…

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Calling All Gardeners! Plots Available at the Schaumburg Campus Community Garden

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

RUrbanPioneers Community Garden at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus, Summer 2013 (M. Radeck)

Make every day Earth Day by growing your own flowers, fruits and vegetables right on campus at the Schaumburg Campus Community Garden. The garden is open to all members of the RU community (registration is required).

The university will provide an irrigation system, mulch and weed blocking fabric, and basic gardening tools. Bring your own seeds and plants, and let Mother Nature do the rest!

For more information and to sign up for a plot, please contact Robert Seiser in the College of Arts and Sciences: or x8758.

Earth Month Events @RooseveltU

This April is #RUEarthMonth2019, and there are lots of ways to go green at Roosevelt as part of our campus sustainability efforts — from recycling and composting promotional events to fun urban ag field trips to our annual sustainability symposium. We’ll add to and…

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A Petition to Fight Environmental Classism on Chicago’s Southeast Side

Research and writing on the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website and blog has prioritized environmental justice and waste issues for the last several years. Please read this petition from our neighbors on Chicago’s Southeast Side, who are hoping to prevent the relocation of another industrial polluter to their neighborhood.

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

By Jake Hanahan, SUST Student Associate

Recently, the Southeast Environmental Task Force started a petition to stop the relocation of a major polluter to Chicago’s Southeast Side in a blatant case of environmental classism. The polluter in question, open-air scrap metal facility General Iron, had announced plans to move there from their original location in Chicago’s wealthy Lincoln Park neighborhood due to Lincoln Park’s riverfront revitalization project.

Now, the residents of the Southeast Side — a low-income, minority neighborhood that has already been burdened with the effects of dangerous levels of industrial pollution for decades — are fighting back. They hope that this petition will keep another polluting facility from moving into their neighborhood, as well as send a message to the city’s wealthy neighborhoods like Lincoln Park that their days of offloading their dirty industries to low income and minority neighborhoods like the Southeast Side are over. The petition…

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Farm to School: Bria Jerome Reports on Her Internship at Seven Generations Ahead

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

By Bria Jerome

Located in the suburb of Oak Park, Seven Generations Ahead works quietly and consistently to implement environmental goals throughout Cook County and the state of Illinois. SGA workers and interns divide their work into several different categories, one of which is Farm to School. Through the tireless work of the very small staff and the excitement of community members, SGA has made and will make huge strides toward increasing environmental awareness and education.

Farm to School

The Farm to School program run by SGA seeks to bring students closer to the food they eat everyday. Whether this be in a physical sense of promotion of local vendors to school cafeterias, a metaphorical sense of implementing organic produce education, or a spiritual sense of promoting community gardens on school grounds; Farm to School is a great way to show kids a taste of healthy and sustainable living.


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Congratulations to Our December 2018 Graduates!

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

Last Friday, 14 December 2018, Roosevelt University hosted its commencement ceremonies in the historic Auditorium Theatre at its downtown Chicago Campus. The Department of Sociology, Sustainability, and Community Development warmly congratulates all of our graduates who earned BAs in Sociology and Sustainability Studies as well as MAs in Sociology. Our department was brilliantly represented by Samantha (BA’ 18) and Katia Martinez (BA ’18), twin sisters and sociology majors who were selected to give the student commencement address — the first time in Roosevelt’s history that the event featured two student speakers. (You can listen to their speech in the video below.)

Samantha and Katia weren’t the only dynamic duo graduating, though. Also crossing the stage together were Michelle Giles (BA ’18 Sustainability Studies) and her husband Corey Giles (BA ’18 International Studies), who both graduated with honors in their respective programs — a rare and joyous example of spouses celebrating…

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Schaumburg Park District Job Fair on Dec. 28th

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 2.21.52 PM

Are you into fun? Looking for a part-time job where you can make a difference? Attend the Schaumburg Park District Job Fair from 1-8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28th. Learn about immediate part-time job opportunities and summer 2019 positions. Reserve your spot here. All interviewees will be entered in a drawing for prizes.

Schaumburg Park District
235 E. Beech Drive
Schaumburg, Illinois 60193

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Solar Job Training Orientation Event

Sustainability Studies @ Roosevelt University

The Future Energy Jobs Act is a new piece of legislation in Illinois that requires utilities to source 25% of their energy from renewables by 2025. This has created a huge demand for new solar and wind power development, and the industry is hiring. A number of nonprofit organizations are organizing a series of Solar Job Training Orientation Events, and one of them is on December 11th (tomorrow).

Here are the details:


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Food Systems & Resilience: the Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative

by Michelle Giles for SUST 350

Food is an interesting topic. It is not at all unique, since we all eat. And yet, no two people assign food and particular dishes the same value. We may be the only species to consider food as something more than sustenance (many lacking the taste bud infrastructure to pick up on sweetness and saltiness) and routine (my cat, for instance, will bite me if she is not fed her breakfast by 7:01).

Humans culturized food. Often this was based on produce and livestock availability, as well as socioeconomic status. Now with global trade, we enjoy the luxury of habitualizing ourselves to products that North America could never grow (but first, coffee) and sensualize meals that were originally eaten out of necessity (lobster was considered fit only to be fed to Northeast prisoners, an insect of the sea).

As Scott Sawyer points out in the “Food System Lessons from Vermont” chapter of The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval, the food system operating at present does not reflect our gastronomical likes and dislikes. Nor is it culturally significant. Instead, it craves fossil fuels and splurges on cash crops. The idyllic patchwork quilt of grain and green imagined of our countryside is better personified by Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The land that cries year after year with every pesticide application and relentless monocropping. Production is toxic and waste is too affordable for large producers to consider it a problem worth avoiding.

Many millennials are aware that this isn’t working for anyone and are choosing alternative diets that emphasize organic and local. Purchasing power alone, though, is not going to heal our broken food system. These kind of consumer choices are being amplified in states like Vermont which put people to policy and policy to action.

Source: VT Sustainable Jobs Fund

The Vermont Farm to Plate initiative is a highly collaborative platform for connecting local people to local food by providing the network for supply-demand connections between farmers, non-profits, government agencies and retail suppliers. The possibilities are virtually endless since, as noted above, everybody eats! It also supports young farmers and provides funding for land to get people started. To round off the effort, a pillar of the initiative is to reduce waste by providing for foodbanks and supporting the Universal Recycling Law which includes composting organic material (Sawyer, 2017).

The real success of the program is in the people. While Farm to Plate is policy driven, it has an extremely grassroots feel to it. Food can break many boundaries and so those organic smoothie drinking millennials are participating right alongside hog butchers and corner store owners. There also is an effort to include job training in all related fields. The education element lends to a constructive rippling through communities. There is a sense of pride about Vermont providing for Vermont. The regulatory elements of mandatory composting and waste reduction next to the marketplace -friendly local farm economy makes it a plan that appeals to both sides of the aisle.

I think many of the elements of the program are suitable elsewhere. This kind of resilience-oriented, forward, creative, and collaborative food network should especially be prioritized in cities. There is built-in tension in our landscape that results from areas of high population density being only consumers of food. It places unfair burden on our rural land and peoples. That thinking simultaneously robs cities of the opportunities to build those communities and places that local food can generate.

Food is special. It is very much a personal and cultural experience. A fitly run, local food system creates a sense of place. But, as Sawyer points out, the work is relentless. The effort must be sustained which provides the sort of systems thinking and regulatory cooperation that only policy makers can dish out. The Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative is ripe for replication. It is about time the countryside quilt be rejuvenated with creative systems thinking patchwork.


Check out this article informing about Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law put out to the public by the Natural Resource Defense Council last year.

Sawyer, S. (2017). Food system lessons from Vermont. In D. Lerch (ed.), The Community Resilience Reader (ch. 13). Washington DC: Island Press.

Michelle Giles is a senior SUST major @RooseveltU and president of the RU Green student organization. During the Fall 2018 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 240 Waste and 350 Service & Sustainability classes at Roosevelt University are contributing blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.

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