Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future is a collaborative project focused on the Village of Schaumburg, Illinois, that analyzes its environmental and cultural history, evaluates its present status as an archetypal “edge city” within American suburbia, and assesses its future prospects as a sustainable community. The long-term purpose of the project is to:
- Analyze Schaumburg’s past, present, and future in light of the sustainability topics and problems addressed in RU’s Sustainability Studies curriculum, such as land use, food production and consumption, biodiversity, water use and conservation, transportation, etc.
- Increase awareness of and knowledge about local sustainability issues and challenges
- Provide a broad interdisciplinary context for local sustainability planning within Schaumburg specifically, and the northwest suburbs by extension
- Assess the relationship of Roosevelt University’s plans for greening its campus to sustainable development efforts elsewhere in the Village
- Make concrete recommendations to university and community stakeholders on how they might work together toward achieving a more sustainable future
This website began as the culmination of the final assignment for the Spring 2011 Schaumburg Campus-based section of SUST 210 “The Sustainable Future” — an undergraduate class taught by Professor Mike Bryson at Roosevelt University. SUST 210 is the introductory course for the Sustainability Studies program within the Evelyn T. Stone University College.
The initial version of the project was completed on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2011, when it was unveiled at the Roosevelt University Schaumburg Campus film screening of the Aldo Leopold documentary Green Fire, released earlier that year. That semester SUST 210 students investigated four key areas related to sustainable development: biodiversity, corporate social responsibility, land use, and water. Participants in the Spring 2011 Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future Project included Mary Beth Radeck (water), Jessie Crow Mermel (biodiversity), Tom Okurut (CSR), and Tom Hareland (land use). Each student was responsible for researching and drafting an essay on their assigned topic, as well as finding relevant images and web resources. Professor Mike Bryson edited each essay, compiled/edited the images and links, and organized the website as a whole.
Subsequent contributions to this site include:
- Fall 2011 — Students in SUST 220 Water (Schaumburg Campus) expanded the scope and deepened the analysis of the Water section to address issues of freshwater supply, wastewater management, conservation within the Salt Creek watershed, and wetland management/restoration.
- Spring 2012 — Students in SUST 210 Sustainable Future (online) contributed over 20 blog posts (from February through early May) and conducted group research projects on several others key areas of sustainability relevant to Schaumburg and suburban ecosystems, including energy, food, green design, parklands, transportation, and waste/recycling.
- Spring 2013 — Students in SUST 210 Sustainable Future (online) contributed 20+ blog posts and conducted group research projects on waste management, green design applications, open space conservation, and surrounding suburban communities in the NW suburban area.
- Fall 2013 — Students in two SUST classes, 210 Sustainable Future (online) and 240 Waste (Schaumburg), posted 30+ blog essays from September to December; conducted individual research projects that profiled/assessed sustainability efforts in American suburban communities; and investigated the relationship among waste, pollution, and environmental justice (EJ) in selected Chicago-area communities.
- Fall 2014 — As in the previous fall semester, students in two SUST classes, 210 Sustainable Future (online) and 240 Waste & Consumption (Chicago/Honors) will post weekly blog essays; conduct individual research projects that profile/assess sustainability efforts in American suburban communities; and investigate the relationship among waste, pollution, and environmental justice (EJ) in communities within and beyond the Chicago region.
- Spring 2015 — Students in the online section of SUST 240 Waste post weekly blog essays and researching additional suburban and urban communities to document and critique the relations among pollution, hazardous waste, and environmental justice.
Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future is thus a work in progress and an invitation to a conversation about the prospects for sustainable development in the northwest suburban region of Chicago. In this context, a sustainable future is one that integrates environmental stewardship with economic development and social equity. It is a much different take on the notion of “progress” — from the misguided assumptions that growth is good and that profit is the primary end goal of economic activity, to the sustainable ideal in which “development” means fostering social equity, broad-based economic opportunity, and environmental ethics.
We welcome your comments and suggestions about any part of this website. Several pages within it are configured to accept comments, so please feel free to post your thoughts for additions, corrections, etc. If you prefer, you may email comments directly to Professor Mike Bryson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ideas and opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors.
As such, they do not represent the official views of Roosevelt University.
Banner image: Green Fire, a documentary film by the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Humans and Nature, screened at RU’s Schaumburg Campus during Earth Week, 2011