By Ludvig Brisby Jeppsson
Early on Friday, Oct. 21, a rain garden was planted next to the Facility Service Building. Led by William Kirker, director of facility services, and assisted by students, Christopher Roerden and Erica Ferrera, the goal of the planting is to decrease the flooding of the parking lot and purify the water, as the water is intended to be picked up by the roots of the new plants.
This may seem like a minor project, but there is a big chance there will be more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions applied on campus in the near future, as campus is stepping up the game on sustainability this semester.
Initiated by Professor Scott Carlin, the Center for Sustainability is launching soon. Building upon several years of initiatives to improve campus sustainability, the new center was approved by the faculty committee this past summer as part of the university’s over-all new strategic plan—“LIU 2020: Education Beyond Boundaries.”
Carlin will serve as the director of the center and run a committee with members from different facilities, as well as students. He says the mission of the Center is to expand interdisciplinary education and research opportunities, with the vision that this will lead to all students understanding sustainability principles and being able to relate them to their own personal and professional goals.
One way to reach this vision, according to Carlin, is to create models for new interdisciplinary courses, making it possible for students to acquire knowledge in other subjects besides their major, and becoming aware of the difficulty of dealing with problems that concern several areas.
However, the whole agenda of the center is far from written in stone. Carlin says that the Center now enjoys a more official level of support from the university and faculty, and is hopeful that the students and faculty members can help define the concrete work to be done.
One of the students taking advantage of this opportunity to influence and get involved is energetic freshman, Erica Ferrera, who is responsible for launching a new student sustainability club. The club will work as a subbranch of the initiative and will focus on what the students can do to improve aspects of sustainability on campus, according to Ferrera.
Ferrera says that an important part of the center and the club is to educate. Next up is a panel discussion with the topic, “The Presidential Election & the Climate Challenge” in Hillwood Commons, during common hour on Nov. 1.
Ferrara plans to make sure that the club’s activities won’t be limited to only discussions and spreading information. Several practical projects are planned, including campus farming. The club will, in cooperation with Aramark, LIU’s food service, spend the fall and winter learning more about farming using the campus greenhouses. Then, in spring the plan is to start growing crops that Ferrera hopes eventually could make it into the school’s food program.
But there are also other areas where Ferrera sees opportunities to make real change, like improving the recycling and reducing waste. “There are lots of small things to improve and we want to make it fun and personal, so students feel connected to the cause.”
The club hopes to use knowledge from students, for instance, theses from students majoring in environmental-related subjects. However, Ferrera is convinced that joining the club will be beneficial for students in every field. “We will learn how to be sustainable, which is important in today’s society, and it is a great way to start as a college student.”