The Mayors Are Still In
North American Climate Summit shows that many Americans are ready to address climate change head-on.
By Brigid Paulson ('17)
More than 50 mayors from the U.S. and abroad gathered in Chicago in early December to discuss tactics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the North American Climate Summit. These mayors signed the Chicago Climate Charter, committing their cities to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement; report and track their city’s emissions; and advocate for greater local authority to empower cities to take more aggressive climate action. The mayors carried the message that local solutions can create a global impact when it comes to policy addressing climate change.
Students, faculty, and staff from Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability attended the Summit and various supporting events including a community forum at the Field Museum and a smart cities event at UI Labs. IES students were curious to see what these local commitments to the Paris Agreement might look like. “As an Environmental Policy major one of the best takeaways for me is that we need to face environmental problems and transitions at the appropriate scale if we want to make a difference,” says senior Sienna Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick felt that the Mayor’s Summit gave her a platform to understand the scope of policy work that is occurring both locally and internationally.
Sophomore David Lopez had another take. “These leaders have inspired me to continue my efforts to become a leader in the sustainability movement." Other students like Lucy Anderson spoke personally with some of the elected officials. One memorable exchange for her was with Mayor Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu. “He stressed to me that we are all in this together. We must move forward in any way our cities can.”
President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance and applauded the efforts of local public officials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Obama emphasized how mayors are truly boots-on-the-ground public servants. “I’m here to say thank you to all of the mayors, whose positions require you to actually work and not just talk.” At the end of the Summit, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stressed the need for events like these to create long-lasting positive impacts not just on the local level, but also on a worldwide scale.
Sophomore Gavin Chisholm summed up the feelings of his fellow students. “It's inspiring to see leaders from around the country commit to the climate challenge despite the complacency at the federal level. It gives me hope.”
Achieving the Gold Standard
By Brigid Paulson ('17)
When Taylor Choy (’17) interviewed Loyola’s Director of Community Relations Summur Roberts last year, she wanted to get a sense of how Loyola’s sustainability initiatives were perceived outside of campus. “I also needed to know how Loyola works with the community in terms of sustainable programming.” This wasn’t part of a class project; Choy was working with a legion of students to help Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh complete Loyola's 2017 STARS Application.
STARS stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System and it’s administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). “What’s important to know about STARS,” comments Durnbaugh, “is that it almost acts as a credentialing program for sustainability within higher education.” STARS is not a ranking system, and relies on colleges and universities to self-report their data, which is then reviewed for accuracy by AASHE staff and is publicly available to be evaluated by peer institutions. Higher education institutions that have received gold or platinum level STARS ratings are leaders in sustainability.
Loyola has participated in the STARS program since 2014, and currently holds a Gold STAR level rating received in February of 2017. Credentialing for the program happens every three years, and Durnbaugh emphasizes that everyone, from students to staff to community partners, works together to provide and collect data on the inner workings of Loyola. “We are addressing sustainability in different activities, academic, operational, administrative, to achieve the gold level rating,” says Durnbaugh.
The data collection process is key to a university’s STARS rating. The more information provided for the STARS categories, the more information AASHE can use to evaluate the university. The rating scale for STARS is out of 104 credits. With Durnbaugh’s latest submission, Loyola scored 70 credits, earning our second Gold Rating and up five points from the 2014 report. With a threshold of 85, this is still 15 credits short of a Platinum Rating. The credits in STARS are applied through various categories, from building construction to course curriculum to student engagement. STARS, unlike other sustainability rating systems, emphasizes an all-encompassing view of sustainability.
“STARS is an example of how the word ‘sustainability’ is not just an environmental term, but it assesses diversity and the university’s commitment to community engagement,” comments Choy.
Nevertheless, if Loyola hopes to obtain a Platinum Rating, Durnbaugh says more changes are necessary, but there’s already a few on the table. The GoSolar Initiative, led by the Student Environmental Alliance, will install solar panels on the Lake Shore Campus. Another group of students is interested in working with Aramark on Loyola’s food sourcing.
Durnbaugh also discussed the need for Loyola to engage the faculty and staff in sustainability. “Providing incentives for faculty to develop sustainability courses, creating an employee educator program on diversity, an eye towards environmental justice, and a reduction in the resources we consume are some of the challenges we look forward to addressing to improve our STARS rating.”
Come 2020, Loyola may be a few steps closer to securing a Platinum rating.
Congratulations to the IES Class of 2017!
Our graduating seniors have taken to heart Loyola's mission of social justice. This year's Senior Award winners have worked for the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke; developed an innovative way to clean waste water in our biodiesel lab; managed our farmers market and much more.
Christie L. Kochis
Aldo Leopold Award for Outstanding Achievement
President's Medallion recipient Christie Kochis (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies) has worked on several eco-friendly initiatives at Loyola and interned in the Office of Sustainability since 2013. As a sustainability intern, she has been responsible for garnering funds and planning the 2017 campus-wide Waste, Water and Earth Weeks. She’s also served as the President for the Student Environmental Alliance for the past two years. With Kochis’s help and fundraising, Loyola purchased a solar power charging station. This is just one of many of the initiatives she’s helped push forward at the university level. Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh comments, “Christie has been a power for change at Loyola. We are so excited to see what she will accomplish and we know that sustainability at Loyola will not be the same without her.”
Jessica R. Beckman
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
Jessica Beckman (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science) has maintained a 3.96 GPA while tutoring environmental science to Arrupe College students, interning at the Talking Farm and serving as a research assistant for Professor Robyn Mallett in the Psychology Department. As a research assistant, she contributed to a study exploring human psychology as it pertains to water conservation. “IES has a department of faculty that want to see their students succeed. It was the perfect department for me as I met people that shared similar passions,” comments Beckman.
John C. McCabe
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
John McCabe (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy) is a transfer student from Lawrence University. During his time at Loyola, McCabe pursued a number of internship and research experiences. He interned at the Illinois Environmental Council, The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, The Delta Institute, and served as a legal assistant at Thorn & Associates. McCabe served as a research assistant in Dr. Ray Dybzinski's lab and is currently working on a paper with his lab cohort.
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
Corinn Rutkoski (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) has maintained a grade point average of 3.96 since transferring to Loyola in fall 2015. Rutkoski has worked as an intern with the Urban Agriculture Program and as a Field and Lab Technician with the Tuchman Lab. In recent months, she has conducted research on the cattail Typha x glauca, a hybrid invasive species that poses a threat to the function of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. " The IES curriculum has shown me the value of interdisciplinary education. By studying natural science, social justice and policy simultaneously, I have gained a deeper understanding of my role as a student and citizen," comments Rutkoski.
Daniela T. Herrera
James E. Hansen Award for Outstanding Performance in IES Internship
Daniela Herrera (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) came to Loyola from Elgin Community College. Her mentor, Biodiesel Lab Manager Zach Waickman, writes “Daniela came to our door knowing what she wanted to do. Conduct research to support a career at a wastewater treatment facility. She knew she needed to expand her exposure to lab practices, analytic equipment and original scientific inquiry.” As a Biodiesel Lab Intern, Herrera convinced Waickman to use acid tolerant algae to treat the biodiesel waste water. In addition to conducting original research, Herrera has spent a considerable amount of time mentoring other students in the lab and has inspired two students to continue different aspects of this waste water treatment project. At Loyola, Herrera has been the recipient of a Provost Research Fellowship, a Mulcahy Research Scholarship and an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award at Loyola’s 2017 Weekend of Excellence.
Aqsa Q. Junagadhwala
Wangaria Muta Maathai Award for Outstanding Service
Aqsa Junagadhwala (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science: Conservation and Restoration) has made it her mission to be a citizen scientist. Her volunteer efforts have led her to monitoring plants of concern with the Chicago Botanic Gardens and leading restoration work with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. As an active citizen, she’s helped run volunteer efforts for Chicago conferences and ensured that she’s had the appropriate knowledge of plants and aquatic microorganisms to serve as a real asset as a Teaching Assistant to students in Assistant Professor Dybzinski’s Ecology Lab. “Whereas previous TA’s had failed to attract students to their office hours, Aqsa was almost always booked. The students enjoyed interacting with her and benefited from her clear explanations. Aqsa was frequently singled out in end-of-the-year evaluations as a huge asset to the class,” comments Dybzinski.
Taylor L. Choy
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores Award for Outstanding Leadership
Taylor Choy (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science: Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture) is the first IES student to be promoted to an IES staff position. This summer, Taylor will serve as the 2017 Farmers Market Coordinator where she will work to provide fresh food to the local Rogers Park community. Choy also served as President of the Growers Guild which included leading projects and events such as volunteer workdays, field trips, bag printing, candle-making and several campus wide events. One of her many on campus projects included spearheading the No-Impact Meal which worked to provide Loyola students with a sustainable, locally-sourced meal while teaching them about while facilitating a dinner discussion around food sustainability and justice. Urban Agriculture Coordinator Kevin Erickson writes “Taylor Choy is one of the most well-rounded and hard-working students I’ve worked with.”
Ashley M. Williams
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores Award for Outstanding Leadership
Ashley Williams (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy) has spent her career at Loyola standing up for communities who live in the shadow of pollution and whose health and well-being are being undermined by corporate and government interests. Williams has worked with the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke in many roles and interned for such organizations like the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Food and Water Watch Illinois. She served as a co-moderator for a panel on grassroots activism and environmental justice in Chicago at our 2017 Climate Change Conference. Assistant Professor Ray Dybzinski comments, “Ashley is passionately involved in several sustainability-related activist projects around Chicagoland. She frequently made announcements before class started. Honestly, she’s an inspiration to me, and her example has spurred me to become more active!”
Gabrielle A. Habeeb
E. O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Performance in Independent Research
Gabrielle Habeeb (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) has seen the impacts that ecological restoration can have on communities. At IES, Habeeb was an integral part of the Invasives to Energy project where she helped harvest invasive cattails near Michigan’s great lakes. Her mentor, Researcher Brendan Carson, comments “Gabby added a lot to our weekly journal discussions, and she helped us process sediment and plant samples through the fall.” In addition to her restoration research, she served as a Campus Sustainability Intern where she managed the monthly events for LOCALS (Living Off Campus and Living Sustainably). She was also an Environmental Science Tutor through Loyola’s ACE Program.
Congratulations to all our graduating seniors!
Loyola Dance Students Teach Science through Movement
In December, fourth-grade students from Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies visited the Institute of Environmental Sustainability to show off their scientific knowledge of Photosynthesis, nuclear fusion and the chemical process that turns vegetable oil into Biodiesel. The catch? They showcased their knowledge through dance. The LUC Dance Program has made it part of its mission to engage on social justice issues and build community partnerships through efforts like their dance program with Pierce Elementary School.
IES sat down with Senior Lecturer of Dance Amy Wilkinson to discuss this initiative a little more.
Q: What’s the idea behind this performance?
A: I conceived this project as a way to continue the Dance Program's commitment to build community partnerships, explore interdisciplinary work, and to engage on social justice issues. My goals are to equip our dancers with the pedagogical knowledge and skills to work with diverse student populations. I want our dancers to inspire the next generation of dancers to think of themselves as artist activists who can effect change in a world in flux and in need of peace.
Q: What did the students do? How long have you worked with them?
A: The structure of the project involved a group of LUC dance pedagogy students working with 30 Peirce Elementary School fourth graders weekly since the beginning of the fall semester. We chose climate change related subjects culled from the online textbook Healing Earth (How biodiesel is made, photosynthesis, nuclear fusion, etc.) and Loyola’s dancers helped the Peirce students learn those concepts by translating them into movement. Ultimately, I would like to use the format of this project to develop an interactive website that elementary students and instructors could utilize to engage on climate change through work in the arts.
Q: What are the elementary students getting out of this?
A: The Peirce students worked with college dance instructors who have empowered them with the ability to author their own understanding of the world through movement. They’ve gained knowledge that connects dance concepts such as time, space, and effort with science concepts related to climate change. They also visited IES on a field trip where they met with Dr. Nancy Tuchman, the founding dean of the Institute. By visiting IES, they’ve gained a deeper understanding of the work that goes into environmental sustainability and their work will be preserved on film and presented to a larger audience through various channels.
Q: How did this partnership start?
A: Three years ago I reached out to the director of the Peirce dance program, Marissa Moritz, to see if she would be willing to allow LUC dance pedagogy students to gain teaching experience by visiting her classes and working with her students. We've been working with Peirce ever since and Marissa has been an enthusiastic partner providing invaluable insights into the particulars of teaching dance in a CPS context.
To see pictures of the Peirce Elementary School dance performances, go here.
Every day is Earth Day at Loyola
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword or fad at Loyola. It’s something we take to heart and apply to everything we do, from the courses we offer to the buildings we construct.
And as Earth Day approaches on April 22, we’re hosting several events on campus to help make the world a greener—and better—place.
Below are highlights of this year’s Earth Week activities, plus examples of what Loyola does year-round to promote sustainability.
April 18: What do you do when you can’t tell fact from fiction? Come watch the critically acclaimed film “Merchants of Doubt” to learn how issues from tobacco use to climate change have been plagued by fake science. 3-5 p.m. in the Damen Cinema.
April 18: Join us for a discussion as we bring together some of the most powerful student voices on campus to hear about their experiences advocating for environmental justice. 6-7:30 p.m. in Palm Court.
April 19: Karen Hobbs of the Natural Resources Defense Council will talk at this alumni and friends networking event about the potential impact of budget cuts and environmental policy on the Great Lakes Region. 5:30-8 p.m. in the Schreiber Center. Register now.
April 19: Come see a screening of “City of Trees,” a deeply personal story about the fight for good jobs and safe parks in our nation’s capital. 6:30-8 p.m. in the Damen Cinema.
April 22: Join others from across the city in a spring cleanup for sites around Rogers Park and Edgewater. 9 a.m.-noon. Volunteers must register.
A full list of Earth Week activities can be found here.
Throughout the year
Loyola’s commitment to the environment extends far beyond Earth Week. The University has been a leader in sustainability for years, and it recently was named the seventh greenest college campus in the country by the Sierra Club.
Last month, Loyola hosted its fourth annual conference on climate change. “Climate Justice: The Struggle for Our Common Home” featured speakers on the front lines of environmental justice initiatives, including Mary Robinson, past president of Ireland and an internationally known human rights activist.
In 2016, Loyola partnered with the International Jesuit Ecology Project to launch Healing Earth, a free digital environmental science textbook. More than 90 scholars from Jesuit institutions across the world contributed to the project, which is intended for high school and college students, as well as adult learners worldwide.
And in 2015, the University announced Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World. This five-year strategic roadmap promotes social justice and ways to solve society’s biggest challenges, including climate change and environmental degradation.
Below are links to even more examples of how Loyola is committed to preserving and promoting the environment.
Sustainability Awards Round-Up
2016 was a stellar year for Loyola and sustainability initiatives across our campus. Take a look at some of the awards we received for the work the Office of Sustainability does on campus.
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Campus Index - Top Performer in Transportation. The 2016 Sustainable Campus Index, a publication of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
- League of American Bicyclist: Bike Friendly University: Silver level. This program recognizes institutions of higher education for promoting and providing a more bikeable campus for students, staff and visitors. The BFU program provides the roadmap and technical assistance to create great campuses for cycling. There are now 164 Bicycle Friendly Universities in 44 states and Washington, DC. Our standing is good for four years.
- Green Electronics Council: EPEAT Sustainable Purchasing Award. EPEAT is a trusted source of environmental product ratings that makes it easy for purchasers to select high-performance electronics that support their organization’s sustainability goals. Loyola was recognized for its procurement efforts in these categories: PCs and Displays, Imaging Equipment and Televisions.
- Ranked No. 7 in Sierra Club Cool School Listing.The 2016 Cool Schools rankings, released September 6, place Loyola at No. 7 out of more than 200 participating schools. Loyola is the only Illinois university in the Top 30 in the rankings, and the only Chicago school to crack the Top 90. Loyola ranked No. 4 in the 2014 rankings.The Sierra Club praised Loyola for several green initiatives including its eco-friendly residence halls, its extensive biodiesel program, and its trayless cafeterias (which help reduce food waste).
- Princeton Review: Green Schools list Top 50. Loyola University of Chicago was mentioned by the Princeton Review as a top 50 green school.
- Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities / EcoAmerica / Solution Generation - Climate Leader (for all Catholic Colleges and Universities). In a ceremony on January 29,2017, President Jo Ann Rooney represented Loyola in receiving an award for Climate Leadership from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Solution Generation. Loyola's Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh, submitted the application on behalf of Loyola to demonstrate the university's leadership on climate action and this funding will support Loyola students implementing climate action in our surrounding neighborhoods of Edgewater and Rogers Park through LakeShore Community Partners.
- Bike Commuter Challenge. In the 2016 Bike Commuter Challenge Loyola ranked 5th overall in miles and 6th overall in riders.
- RecycleMania Game Day Basketball: 1st Place. Last year’s Zero Waste Game resulted in a 96% diversion rate of trash. Go Ramblers!
My Top Five: IES Student Rachel Monsey ‘18 reflects on her experience at COP 22 in Marrakech
In November, a cohort of IES Students studying abroad at the Newman Institute in Sweden attended the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco. Here, Environmental Policy major Rachel Monsey tells us her top five takeaways from her experience at COP 22.
- A conversation with Senegalese Women’s Rights Activist Datt Bintou Tonel. Bintou is a woman from Senegal working to provide the poorest of the poor with water. She’s also working for the emancipation of women in a country where women are considered second-class citizens. She became very emotional when speaking about her work and wept. This was incredibly powerful to witness. Much of the time, the raw impact of climate change gets lost in statistics. For me, she provided a face to the problem. Bintou made bare her heart and soul for us. She told us about how women and children are dying of heavy metal poisoning or dehydration, and must walk miles every day to collect polluted water. Speakers like Bintou show how cross-cultural connections can create a unified world that fights gender inequality and promotes access to clean water.
- Our participation in a Climate Action March. We participated in a climate action march during the second week of COP22 and we were among thousands of likeminded individuals who were demanding climate justice now. This theme of justice pervaded the conference and galvanized thousands to march in the streets of Marrakech shutting down traffic and garnering civilian support. The power of the common person cannot be underestimated even in a time of great political and ideological divide. Climate justice can bring the world together. We need a healthy planet to survive.
- We must keep fossil fuel lobbyists out of climate action policy. Enough said.
- COP 22 was a meeting for the young. Hundreds of young people participated as delegates from various nations. The involvement of today’s youth is vitally important in combating climate change and in creating a positive future for us all. Throughout COP it has been stressed that bottom-up as well as top-down approaches are important to achieve lasting solutions. The youngest people have the chance to enact the largest changes.
- NGOs and Civilian Activism will make a difference. There were hundreds of NGOs and civilian activists present at COP22. It was inspiring and unexpected to see so many people, institutions, and companies working to create the future, and not simply leaving it to the policy makers. This type of activism is now occurring more in the US. This left me feeling excited about the work we can continue to do in climate change advocacy.
New Faculty Profile: John Zahina-Ramos, PhD
By Kristen Torres | Student reporter
John Zahina-Ramos wants to save the planet—one urban garden at a time.
An established ecologist and conservationist, Zahina-Ramos spent five years cultivating his own backyard food garden in the heart of South Florida. Now back in his home state of Illinois, he must face the new challenge of maintaining a sustainable lifestyle in a second-floor apartment, along with teaching a whole new crop of students.
Here, Zahina-Ramos talks about the benefits of urban gardening, Loyola’s commitment to sustainability, and how the little things people do for the environment can make a big impact.
Tell us a little more about your urban garden research project.
For five years, I grew and measured crops in my backyard and was able to quantify the ecological, environmental, and economic benefit of an urban food garden. During all the research, I realized that people don’t really think much about urban gardens in our city. We think of them as quaint, or as a project that provides a few veggies during the summer months—and then we forget about them. But what my research has shown is that collectively, they have an enormous benefit for saving energy and nonrenewable resources.
What was it about Loyola that tempted you to leave Florida?
The great students and just the ability to be around so many awesome efforts going on in the realm of sustainability. There are so many things going on at Loyola to support sustainability. Loyola is such a prestigious institution and the Institute of Environmental Sustainability is exactly where I want to be. Coming back to the Midwest was a huge factor as well; I was born and raised in northwest Illinois.
What classes are you teaching this semester?
Environmental Sustainability and Scientific Basis of Environmental Issues.
What do you hope your students take away from your classes?
I hope students develop a desire to see sustainability carried out in their day-to-day life—that they understand the real power in making a difference is not in doing one big thing, but in the collective good of millions of little things that people do every day.
What do you like to do when you’re not gardening or teaching?
I love hiking and the outdoors, so I’m glad to be on the lake. I also love astronomy. It was my intended major in college, but an advisor told me math and physics was involved—so that was the end of that dream.
New Faculty Profile: Theresa Johnston, PhD
By Kristen Torres | Student reporter
Theresa Johnston has always loved science.
Since completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in natural resources and environmental sciences and her PhD in comparative biosciences—all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign—Johnston has worked toward figuring out what effect chemical toxicants have on the health of humans and other organisms.
Here, Johnston talks about her ecotoxicology research, her stint working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and her love for composting.
Tell us a little about you research.
I’m an ecotoxicologist. Specifically, I study the effect that chemicals in the environment have on reproduction and behavior in fish and birds.
Why is this research area so important?
We’re living in nature and within a wider environment. We’re dependent upon it and influence it in a variety of ways, so we need to try and make sure that influence is as sustainable as possible. Researching the effect of toxic chemicals in the environment helps to figure out how our practices are effecting other organisms around us.
Are you working on anything new right now?
I’m writing up papers surrounding the research I did with the U.S. EPA in Rhode Island. I studied the effect of pharmaceuticals in the environment upon fish reproduction. Pharmaceuticals, such as the components of birth control pills enter our waterways through waste water treatment effluent. These chemicals were designed to have a physiological effect, so the aquatic organisms, including fish, respond to birth control in a similar way as humans. They produce fewer eggs. I found that this corresponds with changes in their hormone levels.
What attracted you to Loyola?
I grew up Catholic and loving science, so I love that I can be at a place that combines both. I love that I can be an effective teacher knowing that the two disciplines go well together and that you can’t have one without the other. I have also never heard a bad thing about Loyola—while I was applying and interviewing for a teaching position here, everyone just kept telling me great things about the University.
And finally, what do you like to do with your free time?
I love running and gardening. I’m also an avid composter.
Ecotoxicologist sought out during Vietnam disaster
This spring, Vietnam experienced a massive localized die-off of fish populations in the waters off of four coastal provinces, a disaster that sparked rare protests across the country and affected thousands of people. Heavily dependent upon fishing and tourism, this area immediately began suffering the public health issues and the economic consequences of a collapsed market for fish and products such as fish sauce. The fish deaths were attributed to the release of toxic chemicals from a coastal steel mill owned by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation. The company agreed to a $500 million fine, a widely criticized figure, to compensate people affected by the contamination and to begin cleanup efforts.
A team of Vietnamese and international scientists was assembled to investigate the cause of the largest ocean fish kill in Vietnamese history. Tham Hoang, PhD, a well-known ecotoxicologist with Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES), was tapped by the Vietnam Environmental Administration, the equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to provide expert advice.
Hoang joined the IES as a faculty member in 2012. His research focuses on adverse effects of environmental contamination on various aquatic species. The same year he began his work at Loyola, Hoang was awarded a five-year grant to study copper toxicity on tropical organisms in the Mekong River ecosystem with the goal of developing a model of metal bioavailability. Measuring how much of a substance reaches the blood stream, his Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) can be used to support setting particular water quality guidelines for copper.
The massive fish kill was not the first time Hoang consulted outside Chicago. The BLM research project grew to an international collaborative effort, joined by scientists from other Mekong River countries, such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Hoang organized the second International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Hanoi in 2013 and two additional training workshops on the BLM in Vietnam and Thailand. Events were targeted to scientists and managers from developing countries and drew large attendance from academia, governments, and the industrial sector. The result was international recognition for Hoang as a preeminent ecotoxicologist in the Southeast Asian region. This catapulted him into the Vietnamese media spotlight for his expertise in environmental toxicology.
Earlier this year, Hoang was invited to collaborate with a group of scientists from the World Health Organization and Vietnam National University to evaluate the potential long-term effects of the Vietnam disaster. At multiple media appearances with National Public Radio of Vietnam, Hoang discussed the cause of the fish deaths and the remediation process needed for the contaminated area.
Following this rise to fame, the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology invited Hoang and 200 scientists from the UN, WHO, UNESCO, IPCC, and OECD to a high-level professional conference on “Fundamental Science and Society.” Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Vu Duc Dam greeted those in attendance, including six Nobel Prize winners and one winner of the Fields Medal in mathematics. As Vietnam is in the early phases of industrial development, this conference focused on the importance of science for sustainability and social development, including environment, public health, education, peace, and climate change. Following two days of intense discussions, 45 of the participants were invited to the presidential palace in Hanoi to meet with the president and deliver suggestions and recommendations for planning future development. This encounter was productive and was covered throughout the national and news media in Vietnam—with Hoang giving additional nationally televised interviews.
Tham Hoang’s next contribution to Vietnam’s development will be organizing the third meeting of the International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management, cosponsored by the Asia-Pacific chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) to be held in March 2017 in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. His contributions to Loyola and his native country continue to impress the scientific community, making important research applicable to solving today’s environmental problems.
Sustainable Living--Swedish Style
By Shanna Yetman
Environmental Studies and International Studies double-major Olivia Urbanski knew she was in her dream class when her instructor Skyped in guest lecturers from the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNCCC) also known as COP21 in early December. "We were talking to people in Paris telling us how the negotiations were going as they were happening." The result of the COP21 negotiations was a climate accord where 195 nations agreed to lower greenhouse gas emissions and keep the planetary temperature in check to lessen the effects of climate change. "None of us expected the negotiations to include limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” added Urbanski. “This class got me excited about climate change negotiations and what's next for the world."
Of course, this wasn't a typical class with a typical instructor. Urbanski and four other IES students were part of the first cohort of Loyola students to study abroad at the Newman Institute in Uppsala, Sweden this past fall—Sweden’s first and only Jesuit institution. Her instructor was Andreas Carlgren, former Swedish minister for the environment from 2006-2011. Carlgren, a key negotiator in various environmental negotiations on behalf of Sweden and the European Union, taught two other courses during the semester including Swedish Environmental Policy and Praxis and Human and Social Development within Planetary Boundaries. All proved powerful and informative for the IES students, especially since it was coupled with field trips that included hikes, camping, Swedish forestry work, and kayaking during class lectures.
The Newman Institute's courses are designed to complete major coursework for IES students (with nine environmental studies/science credit hours) as well as required University core courses. This program is unique to Loyola University Chicago and was created through a collaboration between IES and the Newman Institute. "Our aim is to give our students a theoretical basis of Swedish environmental policy in the classroom and then let them go out in the field to learn firsthand from practitioners,” said Newman Institute Program Coordinator Malin Ahrlin. Through the program, students visited a Swedish recycling facility, a water treatment plant, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Center--the Swedish think tank where the theory of Planetary Boundaries was developed in 2009.
Spare time and a deep connection to the environment were valuable lessons learned for the American transplants. Classes with Carlgren were conducted one at a time, so students spent their first weeks on one course and then moved onto another course. "The Swedish lifestyle is so much more relaxed. They have Fika twice a day, which is a coffee break. But it's not just any coffee break, it's really about taking the time to connect with coworkers and other students. It's about the connections." said Urbanski.
One thing that struck Urbanski and her cohort while in Sweden was how ingrained and transparent the environmental practices were there. "There's a ton more recycling and sorting. Composting is huge. From a young age, they just learn to sort everything. When I was grocery shopping, a majority of the products were ekologisk,which means organic. So you don't have to choose whether you want to spend the money and be environmentally friendly or get the cheap stuff that's not. It's easy to make the right choice."
The second cohort of Loyola students will leave for Sweden in the fall of 2016.The Newman Institute Study Abroad Program is an opportunity for all Loyola students to travel to Sweden. "We want to give Loyola students a chance to be inspired by people living in one of the most sustainable countries on the planet. The Swedish people have made the commitment to live within the limits of their natural resources. This is the way we should all live," said IES Founding Director Nancy Tuchman.
For more information about the Newman Institute, visit LUC.edu/studyabroad.
To read an in-depth interview that IES conducted with Andreas Carlgren, former Swedish minister for the environment, visit LUC.edu/sustainability/stories/archive/carlgrenqa.shtml.
Program turns invasive plants into energy
Plants might not be the most notorious invasive species in the Midwest. (Just try an internet search for “jumping Asian carp.”)
They are, however, invading regions and overtaking native species, entirely upsetting ecosystems. For these invasive plants, the common types of eradication aren’t necessarily the best solution—and the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) is hoping to lead the change.
“Invasive plants are a huge and growing problem,” said Shane Lishawa, who leads Loyola’s on-the-ground efforts in the Great Lakes region. “There are new species constantly coming in.”
Getting those species under control is no easy task, especially in wetlands, where Lishawa works. Controlled burns are expensive and can only address small patches of land at a time. Herbicides can kill the non-native plants—right along with the native ones. And mowing them still leaves behind seeds and roots that resprout and material that decomposes to provide nutrients for a new generation.
So in 2010, Lishawa—along with Nancy Tuchman, PhD, the founding director of IES, and Dennis Albert, an assistant professor at Oregon State University—wrote a grant to try something different. They wanted to start harvesting the plants, removing them from the wetland, and using the “crop” to help the environment.
Today, that idea is still going strong. In 2015, IES’s Invasives-to-Energy program marked its first year of large-scale harvesting. The program has spread to seven different wetlands around the Great Lakes, going as far as Ohio, and addresses three types of invasive plants.
The Invasives-to-Energy program aims to repurpose the harvested plants into different types of green energy. This is done either by grinding and compressing the material into biofuel pellets or by using anaerobic digestion to create bio-gas, which can then be used similarly to natural gas. The program’s efforts include small projects like a northern Michigan dairy farmer composting harvested invasive cattails (called Typha) and large ones like a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to use those cattail plants to make bio-gas.
“The invasive cattail is this really big, productive plant that overwhelms the native plants in the wetlands, so the areas become these sort of biological deserts, with low diversity of plants and animals,” Lishawa said. “It’s so productive. It changes the soil—and that has implications for greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen cycling, and all of these parts of the ecosystems.”
In another part of the program, Loyola is turning this cattail species and reed canary grass (Phalaris) into biofuel pellets—as part of a partnership with Oregon State University, DePaul University, Lake Superior State University, and the University of Michigan Biological Station. Those biofuel pellets can be used to heat a stove or boiler.
And the final plant being harvested is a common reed, native to Europe and the Middle East (Phragmites) for another bio-gas project.
“It’s been on the East Coast for a while, and then it moved across the country over the last 50 years with the recent low water levels in the Great Lakes,” Lishawa said. “It spread like crazy off the shoreline of Lake Huron, Green Bay, and Lake Michigan. It’s a relatively recent invasive plant to the Great Lakes and it’s huge. It can be 15 feet tall.”
Currently, the program is on its second three-year grant from the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and Lishawa believes the collaboration will continue to have a long life going forward.
“We are at an inflection point,” Lishawa said. “We’ve made enough partners and we’ve done enough of this work that all of sudden a whole bunch of doors are opening. We have a lot of different organizations all over the region reaching out to us to try our technique on some of their property.”
IES Leads Water Efforts at Loyola
With the current Flint water crisis and recent reports of lead in Chicago’s water supply, water has been a hot topic over the past several months. Though we still face water challenges on a local and national level, Loyola has been taking action to ensure quality, conscious water-use within our own campus. Here are the three ways that the Loyola is leading efforts in conservation and conscious water-use.
Commitment to plastic water bottle ban
“We as Chicagoans are very privileged to have access to an abundance of freshwater, and we should utilize that,” said Ainsley McGrath, Student Environmental Alliance member. Over 50 billions plastic water bottles are used in the U.S but only 23 percent are recycled. In an effort to address this plastic waste as well as the privatization of water exemplified by the bottled water industry, Student Environmental Alliance partnered with Loyola’s student government to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. The decision was made in 2012, and by the end of 2013, all disposable water bottles were phased out of campus vending, dining, and catering services.
Loyola continues to stand by this commitment with the installation of water refill stations throughout the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. Reusable water bottles are distributed to incoming students to ensure they have an alternative to buying disposable bottled water.
Conscious water-use campaigns
To maintain an ongoing conversation, SEA and IES host the annual Water Week, which celebrates water through various panels and events. “Water Week is that tap on the shoulder to remind students to participate in water conservation as individuals,” said McGrath. From panels on the intersection of water and faith to documentary screenings and discussions on water pollution, Water Week reminds Loyola to think about critically about water use.
During Water Week, as well as during freshman orientation, IES reminds students about the ways in which they can reduce their water consumption. Loyola uses 110 million gallons of water each year, mainly coming from the Loyola residence halls. IES advises students that there are small lifestyle changes to reduce water use and pollution, such as washing clothes using a natural laundry detergent, taking shorter showers, and turning off the sink when brushing teeth or doing the dishes. All of these tips aim to connect students to the Chicago community and Lake Michigan, our source of fresh water.
Designing a more water-conscious campus environment begins with addressing stormwater management. Loyola's Facilities Management department has developed an intricate stormwater system that filters rainwater and reduces urban runoff. “The biggest advantage our campus has is being next to Lake Michigan,” said Aaron Durnbaugh, Sustainability Director at Loyola. “If we can take rainwater and get it into the ground, very quickly that goes right to the lake.” The stormwater management system filters rainwater through rain gardens located along the shoreline. Green rooftops and permeable pavement reduce urban runoff throughout campus. Loyola filters around 19 million gallons of rainwater annually, which helps prevent Chicago’s sewer system from overflowing into Lake Michigan.
Through the combined efforts of the Uncap LUC, water-use campaigns, and the implementation of stormwater management, Loyola facilitates conscious water-use, protecting this valuable resource.
New tool could help track climate change
By Anna Gaynor
Loyola assistant professor Ping Jing, PhD, deals with some pretty lofty topics: climate change, air quality, extreme weather events, and the movement of atmospheric waves, to name a few.
And now, with a $171,000 grant from NASA, she’s working to help people understand how all of those areas interact.
Jing (left) was one of 25 researchers across the country to receive a NASA grant to create straightforward rating tools to measure the effects of climate change—and to look at the success of actions being taken to fight it. Her proposed Rossby Break Index will show how climate change can alter weather patterns and the atmosphere.
“The general public has learned that the impact of climate change on extreme weather events is that they are going to become more frequent and more severe,” said Jing, who teaches in the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. “But up until now, it is still not very well understood how this happened. Why we will have more droughts, heat waves, and flooding? How can we have both flooding and a drought?”
A complicated combination
Jing wants to look at the jet stream, which are the winds about six miles above our heads. For the most part, they are the ones that transport the earth’s surface weather systems. So, if a predicted morning thunderstorm doesn’t come until late afternoon—the jet stream is the one to blame for its late arrival.
“Our winds generally blow from west to east over North America, but they do not blow west to east in a straight line,” Jing said. “Instead, winds tend to take on a wavy shape.”
The jet stream currents move in something called Rossby waves—and Jing wants to see how climate change is affecting their shape. Sometimes these waves start dipping too far south or too far north. Much like an ocean wave that gets too high and breaks, these atmospheric waves can be pushed so far out of their normal path, that the wave breaks and creates an entirely new pattern.
“If there’s a change in the pattern of the Rossby wave, then there will be a change in the jet stream,” Jing said. “Then there will be a change to the surface weather pattern—so they are linked.”
In addition to weather events, Rossby wave breaking can lead to more high ozone events in cities with high elevations like Denver. This is because changes in air patterns aren’t just happening horizontally—the atmosphere is vertically dipping toward and away from the earth as well.
“Ninety percent of ozone is in the stratosphere—where it is considered to be good,” Jing said. “It’s protective because it absorbs UV [ultraviolet light]. But if you inhale ozone directly, then it’s bad because it’s a very strong chemical.”
By studying three decades of meteorological data, Jing hopes a better understanding of Rossby waves and their effect on weather and atmosphere will allow her to develop a simple color-coded index for high ozone days. For her, addressing climate change requires two approaches: mitigating the damage being done and adapting to what’s happening now.
“If we want to be prepared for climate change, how we are going to prepare for the future weather conditions is important—from a regional level to the local government level to perhaps an individual household level,” Jing said “Do we need to be preparing for more floods, more droughts, or both?
“That means structures need to be ready. That means that power lines need to be ready. That means people’s basements need to be ready. That’s my opinion, so I feel like my research results will help these decision makers to decide if this is necessary, and if this is necessary, then how we should prepare.”
Loyola's campus is more friendly for migratory birds
The Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) is a student-led effort to make campus safer for migrating birds. Every spring several million birds fly through Chicago as they head north to breed, returning again in the fall as they fly south to wintering grounds.
Many of these birds pass through Loyola’s campus, especially during the early morning as they fly in off the lake. Although these birds navigate over thousands of miles they are not good at perceiving glass, making them very susceptible to window collisions. Loyola’s campus has several buildings that have extensive glass in their facades, including the Information Commons, Sullivan, Halas, and Norville. Birds frequently collide with these buildings, and these collisions are usually fatal.
The first main activity of SOAR is to collect and transport birds for rehabilitation, cataloging the building, orientation and species involved in a collision.
The second activity is to work with on- and off-campus partners to reduce the risks posed by Loyola’s buildings by developing solutions.
Through some simple yet innovative solutions, collisions have been significantly reduced at most of the glass buildings. For example, closing window shades during the morning hours around sunrise, whether manually in Sullivan or as part of the building automation system schedule in the high tech Information Commons, has drastically improved the situation for birds.
Over the last several years the SOAR project has identified the large east facing windows of the Norville Center for Intercollegiate Athletics as being particularly dangerous for migrating birds. Based on this, and there being no shades to close, the Facilities Department has worked with Athletics to design and install a decal design that should reduce bird collisions.
SOAR will again be out monitoring in the fall and will be able to compare the number of dead/injured birds to what has been recorded in past seasons to see if the decals have helped, and by how much.
More information on the Student Operation for Avian Relief (SOAR) project, birds, and buildings can be found here.
IES student helps Rogers Park and Edgewater restore butterfly population
By Alex Schmidt '16
Last fall, a new program started at Swift Elementary School in Edgewater. Fourth grade students spent the afternoons outside away from screens and electronics, reconnecting with the outdoors. The program taught students about sustainable gardening, and specifically showed them how planting milkweed can save the monarch butterfly population. Loyola’s very own Marina Garcia started the program. Garcia is an IES student studying Sustainable Agriculture and is the recipient of the 2015 Community Action Scholarship. Garcia is passionate about sustainable agriculture and has invented a way to educate youth about the importance of Monarchs. “It’s really fun for them to be outside and have an engaging activity to do,” she said. “I want to capture the students’ interest and show them that sustainability can be fun”.
Garcia and her Swift elementary students planted milkweed, a plant that is crucial to the survival of Monarchs. The Monarch Butterfly population in North America has declined over 80 percent in the past two decades. "Butterflies are our second highest pollinator, and we rely on them for our food production," said Garcia. This is why she teaches her students about the importance of pollinators to our food system. “It’s a culture shock for many of the kids to understand where their food is coming from. That’s why I want to teach them how to grow their own food and take charge of what’s going into their bodies.”
Throughout Rogers Park and Edgewater, Garcia is restoring Illinois’ native butterflies, one seed at a time. She has planted milkweed with Heartland Café, Sullivan High School, and Berger Park. “Even if only one or two of the plants come out of all of this, I know we are changing monarchs lives, and changing the community.” Garcia hopes to expand her project throughout then neighborhoods that border Loyola.
An early interest in sustainability
Garcia first learned about sustainability when she was 15, while volunteering at Green Youth Farm, now called Windy City Harvest Youth Farm. After staying all four years of high school, she became the director of junior Green Youth Farm. “If it wasn’t for that experience, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “If I can change a kid’s life in the way that program changed me, then I’ll already have made a huge success in the world.”
Garcia was also garden director at Harper Elementary School and the assistant director for Science First camp. Garcia received her associate’s degree in sustainable agriculture at the College of Lake County before transferring to Loyola in Jan 2015. One of the connections she made at Green Youth Farm was Kevin Erickson, who is now the urban agriculture coordinator at IES. He recommended that she join the program and transfer to Loyola. “I never thought that I’d be here at Loyola. I’ve never been an A student, until now. I’m so thankful for that push to come here,” she said.
Every day is Earth Day at Loyola
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword or fad at Loyola. It’s something we take to heart and apply to everything we do, from the courses we offer to the buildings we construct.
And as Earth Day approaches on April 22, we’re hosting several events on campus to help make the world a greener—and better—place.
Below are highlights of this year’s Earth Week activities, plus examples of what Loyola does year-round to promote sustainability.
April 16: During Earth Week, students can participate in hands-on service projects to support green efforts in the 48th and 49th Wards at Loyola’s North Lake Shore Earth Day.
April 21: Students can also join hundreds of clean energy supporters and the Illinois Environmental Council in Springfield during Green Lobby Day.
April 22: On Earth Day, Loyolans are invited to celebrate the past year’s sustainability accomplishments at the (b)Earth Day Party in the Institute of Environmental Sustainability’s St. Ignatius Plaza.
April 23, 24: Community members can get their hands dirty building a new rain garden (April 23, 11 a.m., north side of Sullivan Center) or by planting a ceremonial tree for Arbor Day (April 24, 11 a.m., on the East Quad).
A full list of Earth Week activities can be found here.
Throughout the year
Loyola’s commitment to the environment extends far beyond Earth Week. The University has been a leader in sustainability for years, and it recently was named the fourth greenest college campus in the country by the Sierra Club.
Last month, Loyola hosted its third annual conference on climate change. “Global Climate Change: Economic Challenges and Solutions” explored the principles, policies, and actions needed to combat global climate change, particularly in the context of the current economic system.
Earlier this year, Loyola partnered with the International Jesuit Ecology Project to launch Healing Earth, a free digital environmental science textbook. More than 90 scholars from Jesuit institutions across the world contributed to the project, which is intended for high school and college students, as well as adult learners worldwide.
And in 2015, the University announced Plan 2020: Building a More Just, Humane, and Sustainable World. This five-year strategic roadmap promotes social justice and ways to solve society’s biggest challenges, including climate change and environmental degradation.
Below are links to even more examples of how Loyola is committed to preserving and promoting the environment.
IES Student Profile: McNair Scholar and first-generation college student Brittany Rivera
By Alex Schmidt
While some students relaxed over the summer, Brittany Rivera spent her time working as an LUREC intern researching invasive species and soil. Most days she worked with buckthorn and collected data on the wetland’s water table. Rivera used this internship to learn more habitat restoration. “Restoration is a very complicated process,” she said. “Despite that, I do think it is our duty as humans to restore lands instead of using them to our disposal.” At LUREC, Rivera has worked under IES faculty Roberta Lammers-Campbell, Father Stephen Mitten, and Emily Zack. Although the LUREC restoration research is still not complete, she has learned about the impact buckthorn has on an ecosystem and ways to restore the area to its original wetland habitat. Several other LUREC interns have worked with Rivera on the project, which is set to be complete by next summer.
Rivera has always been interested in sustainability, her first memories being in grade school. “I remember a specific project being assigned where our science teacher asked us to illustrate a picture showing one way humans negatively impact the environment,” she said. “I chose to depict water pollution. It was very eye-opening for me, even at a young age.” Her passion grew over the years, and ultimately led her to study environmental science at Loyola. She added being an IES student enabled her to turn these interests into transferable skills.
As a junior at Loyola University of Chicago studying Environmental Science, she’s taken the full advantage of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability’s course offerings. In 2014, Rivera traveled to Belize for spring break with IES faculty Father Mitten through “ENVS/BIOL 395: Conversation and Sustainability of Neo-tropic Ecosystems.” Although students receive credit for the trip, for Rivera it felt more like a vacation than school. “On the last day of the trip we went snorkeling at Tobacco Caye off the coast of Belize,” She said. “Father Mitten was leading. He knew everything about different fish and all the names of the organisms. Then, I held a sea star in my hand and thought it was the coolest thing in the entire world.”
Despite Rivera’s success at IES and Loyola, she said being a first generation college student has come with obstacles. During her freshman year, it was difficult being the first person in her family to experience college. “As much as your parents love and support you, sometimes it’s difficult when you need advice or experience.” However, through her involvement on campus, Rivera has found the community she needs. She’s found help through the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (SDMA.) Specifically, she’s been mentored through the STARS program. The program connects freshman, particularly students of color or first-generation college students, to upperclassman. According to the STARS website, the program is meant to “provide mentees with guidance and advice through the first year of college, and assist with their transition to campus life.”
Rivera hopes that all her hard work will pay off after graduation, and that she will continue to advance her environmental science skills. She’s also looking forward to the diversity of career opportunities to explore, and may continue to work with restoration. “I am proud to be a first generation college student,” she said. “I know that I am also making my parents proud.”
IES interviews Andreas Carlgren, former Swedish Minister for the Environment
By Alex Schmidt
Andreas Carlgren was the longest serving Swedish Minister for the Environment from 2006-2011. Throughout his term, he helped Sweden expand renewable energy and significantly reduce its’ GHG (Green House Gas) emissions. He also was a key negotiator in various environmental negotiations on behalf of Sweden and the European Union, such as the 2009 Copenhagen conference and the Cancun Agreement. Today, Carlgren works at the Newman Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, where our first cohort of Loyola students have just finished their fall semester.
Recently, IES sat down with Carlgren to hear about his experiences as Swedish Minister for the Environment and the advice he has for environmental science students.
IES: How did you first become interested in environmental politics? How did you become Swedish Minister for the Environment?
Carlgren: My interest actually started early on, because I grew up on one of the first organic farms in Sweden. Later on as a teenager, I studied a lot of classic environmental readings, such as Rachel Carson, in my free time.
In terms of my political career, I went in and out of politics many times on a local and regional level. But before I went into politics I was also working with Swedish car and truck companies, where I developed educational programs for their management in the 1980’s. I became the major in a local municipality in the 1990s. Then some years later I came into Swedish parliament for several years. All those years I covered other things as well, but the environment was a main interest of mine. Following this I became Swedish Minister of the Environment between 2006-2011.
Read the full interview, here.
IES: During your term, you worked with the Swedish government and other states to protect the Arctic. As a member of the Arctic Council, what is your stance on Arctic drilling?
Carlgren: To me, one of the scariest aspects of climate change is the possible exploitation of the Arctic, because there’s a lot of potential for damage. It really isn’t a regional issue. Sweden, together with Norway, the United States, Russia, Canada, and other states, are members of the Arctic Council. We have worked to stop Arctic drilling and create protection for the future of that area, but it is very difficult to convince all the countries involved. Some members want to exploit resources, such as minerals and oil. I think it is so important that we all understand that even when we are rich in natural resources, our environments are still incredibly sensitive. Globally, it is so interconnected, and it is really part of a common heritage that we should be apart of.
IES: As the longest serving minster for the environment, what accomplishments are you most proud of? Did you witness a change in public sentiment at all over time?
Carlgren: I am most proud of seeing how Sweden developed to be so incredibly committed to combating climate change. We set a goal to reduce our emissions by 40 percent from 1990 to 2020, and we are on track to manage that goal. We are among the lowest emission levels in Europe, and by 2020 Sweden should be the lowest emitter per capita among developed countries.
This was done by supporting renewables, such as wind and solar, but mostly bio energy. We used the leftover parts of the forestry industry to convert into biofuels. We also saw an enormous rise in the green cars industry in Sweden. As a nation, I have been happy to see society and our economy come together to take action on climate change and make it a part of our every-day life. That has been really rewarding.
IES: What value systems does Sweden have in regards to the environment that you’d like to impart on U.S students and citizens?
Carlgren: I think it is this practical love for our natural environment. It means both living close to nature but also really making sustainability a part of everyday life. Its cities planning for the sustainability in the future, and improving clean water, clean air, clean energy, and renewables. What has astonished the Loyola students studying abroad through the Newman Institute is the extent that nature becomes a part of their everyday life. It really is important to develop and practice this fundamental respect for nature.
Another value is recognizing the importance of community. Environmental issues are not private. It really requires a sense of understanding your place in your local and global community- a sense of experiencing that this is something that everyone is involved in. It is said that Americans are individualistic, and might not think about these issues. But us Swedes are also individualistic in that sense. I think it is really important to think in the sense “yes I have my own life and identity, but I am also responsible for the community I am a part of.” Those mustn’t be in conflict.
Lastly, it is so important to demand environmentally friendly policy. It’s not always the main issues discussed in the election campaigns, but it should be a priority.
IES: So our last question is for our students who wish to pursue a career in environmental policy, what career advice do you have?
Carlgren: First of all, it is important to recognize that there are various different fields and career paths to pursue environmental science and sustainability.
You could use almost every sort of life experience as an important element of that career. On one hand, you see the importance of natural science, but we also need an understanding of the social science in society. You don’t always have to cover both, but both are needed now and even more so in future. Environmental issues affect all parts of society, both in business, political life, and NGOs. So it is important to consider all possible avenues.
After graduation, I think that it is always important to keep reading. It is really important to stay informed and always reflecting. Staying educated on issues is a big part of creating change in the world.
Healing Earth, a free environmental science e-textbook, launches in January
For over 500 years, the Jesuits have affected social change through education. At IES, we are pleased to continue this tradition through the International Jesuit Ecology Project (IJEP). IJEP is made up of international scholars with expertise in environmental science, environmental ethics, and environmental spirituality who have thought deeply about how to get environmental science education to our most marginalized populations. At the same time these scholars recognize that climate change poses an enormous threat to our planet and with Healing Earth, they’ve created a textbook that encourages students to be agents-of-change on this ever-changing planet.
Healing Earth is for all types of students interested in environmental science and specifically designed for first year university students, fourth-year secondary school students, adult learners and those most marginalized worldwide. The textbook is aimed at heightening awareness of our planet’s environmental issues through Ignatian Pedagogy—a method that challenges students to see scientifically, evaluate ethically, reflect spiritually and act effectively. Healing Earth was written collaboratively by 90 scholars from Jesuit institutions worldwide and takes a global approach to environmental issues.
Healing Earth begins each chapter with a regional case study that poses interrelated scientific, ethical, spiritual and action-oriented questions. For example, the case study in the Global Climate Change chapter focuses on Mongolian Herdsman who are losing their herds and their ancient nomadic way of life because of climate change.
The science of global climate change can help us all better understand what is happening to Mongolia’s pastureland.
The perspective of environmental ethics points out the complex matter of moral responsibility. The herdsman aren’t the ones emitting the destructive gases into the atmosphere. So, who shares moral responsibility for global climate change and what responses are morally called for?
The perspective of spirituality asks us to consider what the Earth means to us. How deeply do we respect the natural world? For the Mongolian herdsmen, the herds and pastures have a sacred value.
How, then, are we called to act? How can we support the herdsmen in their efforts to survive against the increasingly terrible odds of global climate change?
Through case studies like that of the Mongolian herdsmen, Healing Earth (link: http://healingearth.ijep.net/) helps students see the relationship between science, ethics, spirituality and action.
Check out the full textbook of Healing Earth, here. Interested in becoming an early adopter of Healing Earth and sharing it with your students? Email Chris Wolff
STEP Class Highlight
The Water Problem (That Is Also Our Food Problem)
By Sydney Stuenkel, Marketing major and Environmental Action and Leadership minor
Imagine crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. After running 26.2 consecutive miles, all you want in this world (aside from never running another step) is a cup of water. A volunteer race usher greets you, guides you out of the finish line area, and hands you a cup. A cup you presume to be full of ice cold water. Imagine that cup is empty. Not a great feeling, especially considering that water is the most basic necessity of life—marathon or not. Although this scenario was not the case for the 2015 Chicago Marathon, who’s to say water will be in our cups when we cross the finish line in 30, 40, or 50 years?
Water often is not at the forefront in discussions about our food system. Frequently presented as two separate issues, food and water are in fact inherently intertwined. Both are essential to life and our current methods of their use are wholly unsustainable. Water is a commons, which means no one technically owns it, and it is—or rather, it should be—available to everyone. This idealistic view, however, does not translate to real-world equitable water access, consumption, and distribution. We cannot, of course, summon rainfall in areas experiencing droughts, or help the fact that some of us live in areas with an abundant freshwater supply (i.e. Chicago’s convenient location next to Lake Michigan). We can help what exactly we use our freshwater for. And drinking isn’t even close to being the number one use. Agriculture is the main use of freshwater on a worldwide scale. Agriculture accounts for 69% of global water use, while municipal use accounts for a mere 7%.
This high percentage makes some degree of sense; we need to grow food, and food requires water just as we do. The problem with this high percentage lies in the inefficient methods of water use for industrial agriculture, most directly related to irrigation practices. The FAO estimates that crops use only 45% of the water provided to them through irrigation. Another problem with industrial agriculture is the pollution of surface water and aquifers. The EPA projects that 70% of the pollution in U.S. rivers and streams comes from industrial farming practices. Water pollution from fertilizer run-off has serious environmental implications, including the eutrophication of waterways and subsequent dead zones, such as the infamous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Water is a necessary input in any form of agriculture; however, sustainable agriculture practices employ more efficient methods, such as drip irrigation. The Talking Farm in Skokie, IL uses drip irrigation for their urban farm. Farm manager Matt Ryan showed us the tubing they use for drip irrigation and explained that the only downside of the method is disposing the tubing after a decade or two of use.
It’s easy to argue that we must use large inputs of water to grow our food and experience the adverse side effects because that’s the way it’s always been. Agriculture, however, is not the only, or even the original, way that humans obtained food in the past. In his article The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race, Jared Diamond argues that agriculture, despite its praise and glorification, is one of the most detrimental things we’ve done to ourselves and our environment. He contends that we may have been better off as the hunters and gathers we used to be. In regards to agriculture’s impact on our world’s freshwater supply, this view is certainly justified. And while it may be impractical to revert to the hunting and gathering ways of our ancestors, their naturally limited water use is worth consideration. How have we gone from drinking, conserving, and appreciating freshwater sources to depleting them faster than they can be recharged? How can we justify practicing inefficient irrigation practices when not all citizens of the world have access to freshwater for drinking? I suppose, as Barbara Kingsolver claims in her memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, “humans can be fairly ridiculous animals.” If we want to remediate our food system, scrutinizing our water use for agriculture is essential. We need water, we need food, and it’s about time we start acting like our lives depend on them.
 Horrigan, L., Lawrence, R. S., and Walker, P. 2002. “How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture.” Environmental Health Perspectives 110(5): 445–456.
 STEP lecture by T. Schusler, “Environmental Impacts of Industrial Agricultural”
 M. Ryan during STEP field trip to the Talking Farm, Skokie, IL
 Diamond, J. 1987. “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.” Discover Magazine. Accessed online: http://discovermagazine.com/1987/may/02-the-worst-mistake-in-the-history-of-the-human-race
 Kingsolver, B., Hopp, S. L., and Kingsolver, Camille. 2007. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. HarperCollins.
Andreas Carlgren, former Swedish minister for the environment, examines the issues at play in the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21)
By Alex Schmidt
How can we develop international agreements to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions? What are the different perspectives on climate change between developed and developing countries? Will the Global Climate Summit in Paris (COP21) be a success or a failure? Andreas Carlgren addressed all of these pressing questions during his guest lecture at Loyola University Chicago on November 3, 2015 to a packed house of students, faculty and staff. Drawing on his five years of experience leading the EU in international environmental diplomacy, Carlgren discussed the future of climate change negotiations through these key issues below.
Issue 1: Common but Differentiated Responsibility
“I have to say, when I first started in these [climate change] negotiations, it was difficult to get anything done,” Carlgren said. Carlgren quickly learned that climate change agreements are very complex, especially because countries have conflicting priorities. The biggest challenge he has seen is the divide between developed and developing countries. He explained that although we are all responsible for climate change, developed countries, with higher emission levels over a longer period, have more of a responsibility- a term known as common but differentiated responsibility.
Ideally some of top emitters like the United States would finance sustainable development in developing nations. This would help countries build their economy while thinking consciously about the environment. “There must be a shift to allow resources from developed countries into developing countries,” Carlgren said. “You can’t just make sure your own country is safe. You really have to make sure that the globe is safe.”
Issue 2: The Need for Global Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Under the Kyoto protocol and the UNFCC, nations have already adopted their own GHG emission reduction programs. However, Carlgren said these aren’t sufficient to decrease global warming to below the 2 degree Celsius target. “We are currently on a path to around 4-5 degrees Celsius warming by 2100, which would create unmanageable environmental challenges,” he said. “Even two degrees will cause significant damages and disruption.”
Yet Carlgren said that the top emitters, such as the United States and China, are apprehensive about further reductions, because many countries do not want to be constrained by a legally binding agreement. International agreements would require nations to hold themselves accountable through national emission laws and regulations. He discussed the need for countries to create more ambitious targets by 2030, and emphasized that stabilizing GHG emissions would require roughly one percent of the global GDP. “What they need to achieve in Paris is a legal form that will push the countries to upgrade their emission level reductions.”
Issue 3: Goals of COP21
Still, Carlgren remains hopeful that COP21 “could reach a new, global agreement on climate change.” Both common but the differentiated responsibilities and the reduction of GHG emissions will be among the major debates at COP21. Specifically within the developed/developing countries conversations, he anticipates a debate on whether or not China should be counted as a developed or developing country. China is unique, because it has expanded its’ investment in renewables while simultaneously peaking in GHG emissions.
Although an ideal outcome of COP21 would be to develop internationally binding agreements for GHG emissions, Carlgren said this might not be completed during the conference. “Even if the targets aren’t legally binding, it would help countries to review their emission levels and upgrade their emission levels to be more ambitious,” he said. Carlgren suggested creating a public registry for emissions and climate action for all countries that would be open to viewing by all. “How do we create global trust? Transparency.”
COP21 will facilitate goals for the future. Most importantly, the conference will bring light to an important, international dialogue on climate change. “Will they agree? Will they find a way in the future to reduce more emissions and develop more adaptations? That is the main issue that I hope will be achieved."
More on Andreas Carlgren
Carlgren is a faculty member on the Environment at the Newman Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, the only Jesuit university in Scandinavia. He has worked with Loyola's Institute of Environmental Sustainability to develop a study abroad program in Uppsala for Loyola students, and several Loyola students are studying Justice, Policy, and the Environment with him this fall semester in Sweden.
From 2006-2011 Carlgren served as the Swedish Minister for the Environment. Throughout his term, he helped Sweden reduce emissions by almost 40 percent through investment in renewables and the green car industry. He participated in several international environmental negotiations on behalf of Sweden as well as the EU, such as the 2009 Copenhagen conference, the Cancun Agreement, and biodiversity negotiations in Japan in 2010.
COP21 will be held Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 in Le Bourget, France. Click here to learn more about studying abroad in Sweden.
STEP Class Highlight
It’s Monday night and I’m preparing a meal. This seems an average event if you don’t know me, but I do not cook. Ever. My day-to-day is filled with fast food and to-go cups. It’s not something to be proud of, but with a busy schedule and poor time management skills, cooking rarely feels like an option. My current culinary endeavors are the result of a STEP assignment, undertaken with some of my classmates, to create a ‘sustainable meal.’ Seemingly simple, this exercise pushed me to become more critical of my lifestyle surrounding food. I’m removed from every part of the food production process, from growing, to transport, to stocking shelves. This disconnection makes knowing how to build a sustainable meal difficult. As I begin to cook, for the first time I reflect on a central question: what are the consequences of being removed from the food production system?
My group’s prior grocery trip provided some fodder for consideration. As we pondered which grocery store to walk to, I began wondering where my dollar goes when I buy food. This is a valid concern considering the realities of our national food system. Farmers often lose out, as only 16 cents of every dollar used to buy food returns to the farm. This is a stark drop from the past when, in 1975, 40 cents on the dollar went back to farmers. [i] Labor also is often undervalued and workers underpaid. Many entities can get away with exploitive practices because 53% of agricultural laborers are not authorized to work in the U.S. [ii] Since my food system isn’t local, tracking dollars becomes quite the hunt. In this dispersed system with the consumer removed from the food source, it’s difficult to know whom my purchasing power benefits.
I myself have never grown food, which results in little understanding of the effort, resources and technology needed to feed a population. An area rife with lack of knowledge is the debate on genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s. The debate itself is warranted, especially since up to 70% of processed foods in the U.S. contain an ingredient from a genetically modified plant [iii], but fears can be rooted in misinformation. After listening to ecologist Chris Peterson’s lecture, I have the sense that the danger is not the technology itself, but rather how it is used. For instance, GMO’s infused with pest resistant genes can create more resilient pest populations. Under careful planning, however, GMO’s can be beneficial. For example, researchers inserted a wild potato gene into a commonly produced potato breed to protect it from blight. Since the wild potato had been immune to the blight, these newly bred potatoes were as well, illustrating how GMO technology can sometimes be beneficial. [iv] Fear of this technology is not completely unwarranted, but wholesale opposition may arise from misunderstanding of food production.
The most significant negative impact of my distance from food production is my inability to see how the food system affects others. As sociologist Marilyn Krogh put it, issues of hunger and labor exploitation feel abstract to many who have not witnessed them. Speaking about the global hunger crisis, Krogh explained that subsidized crops from the U.S. are sold in developing countries, and because of the artificially low prices, local farmers cannot compete.[v] This practice becomes even more problematic when one considers that three-quarters of the world’s hungry live in the rural areas of developing countries and are commonly, that’s right, farmers. [vi] From labor issues in our borders to hunger issues abroad, wrapping my mind around the food system’s complexity feels impossible. We have a global food system, and unless I'm shopping at my local farmers’ market, I’ll never meet the people who work and overwork to pick the food I eat. I’ll never see the hunger of farmers abroad. I can look at my finished dish and have little concept of the work and resources it took to get each ingredient to my table.
All this abstraction has left me in the dark and ultimately uncaring about the impacts of our broken food system – until now. It’s evident that the economic, environmental and human impact of my consumption choices are immense. The way each of us decides to combat these structures is our own choice, influenced in part by external factors like budget and access to information. Whether fought by deviations in consumption choices or more radical efforts, these issues cannot be ignored. Being conscious and reflective is the first step.
[i] Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan. 2014. “U.S. Food System Factsheet.” Pub. No. CSS01-06.
[iii] College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. “Agriculture Biotechnology: Informing The Dialogue." Pub. 102ABIOT.
[iv] Peterson, Christopher, PhD. “Genetic Engineering and the Green Revolution” STEP Foods. Chicago. September 10 2015. Presentation.
[v] Krogh, Marilyn, PhD. “Global Hunger.” STEP Foods. Chicago. September 15 2015. Presentation.
[vi] Learner, Michele. 2010. "The Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative: New Hope for Farmers." Bread for the World Institute.
Students lead day of action to combat climate change
By Alex Schmidt '16
Loyola joined 60 college campuses across the United States on October 2, 2015 for Know Tomorrow, a student-led demand for action on climate change. Hosted by the Student Environmental Alliance (SEA), Loyola’s Know Tomorrow event brought awareness to eco-friendly living habits and collected environmental petitions.
For more pictures, go here.
Christie Kochis, a junior studying Environmental Science and President of SEA, helped plan the event over the last three months. “The purpose of Know Tomorrow is to raise awareness on climate change of course, but also get in people’s minds that there are individual actions people can do to influence change.” Kochis said
Know Tomorrow on Loyola’s campus was a tabling event in the Damen Student Center with free posters, buttons, and Potbelly sandwiches. Students participated in the photo campaign by pledging various ways to be more environmentally friendly, such as turning off the lights and taking shorter showers. They also signed petitions.
Sai Cheekireddy, a senior studying Biology, pledged to buy a Tesla car. “I want to move towards clean energy, and I think others should too” Cheekireddy said.
192 Loyola students signed a petition for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. The petition includes requests to reinstate funding for energy efficiency and renewable projects, stop hydraulic fracking, support the Clean Jobs Bill, and invest more revenue in clean jobs.
With the UN Climate Change Summit in December quickly approaching, SEA presented another petition calling on international leaders to work towards 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The petition, sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the civic engagement website Avaaz.org, has collected 2.36 million signatures thus far.
Rebecca Yun, a junior studying Criminal Justice, was one of over 200 students to participate in Loyola’s Know Tomorrow event. “It’s important to bring awareness to these issues on campus” she said. “It’s not like we have another planet."
Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, DePaul University and Iowa State University were among the other universities that participated in Know Tomorrow. Events included rallies and speakers, such as Al Gore speaking at Stanford University.
U.S President Barack Obama sent a letter to Know Tomorrow thanking all the students involved in the Day of Action.
“We must join in common purpose to confront this threat and safeguard our world for the generations to come” he said. “I hope you continue to dedicate yourself to shaping a more resilient and sustainable future and to driving our country’s progress on climate change in our time.”
Learn more about Know Tomorrow and their National Day of Action on October 2, 2015.
IES student Conner Keeffe Blogs about her time at the Newman Institute in Sweden
Most of the week was spent with full days outside enjoying nature and learning about forestry in Sweden. Day One had us in the forest with Bertil, a Swedish forestry pro. Bertil has been in the forestry industry since he was a kid learning from his father, and now teaches people how it all works. We wandered through the forest, learning what makes a place good to keep trees for conservation versus use for growing lumber, how to choose what trees to keep and what trees to cut down, how many trees a healthy forest should have per hectare, and more.
We roasted hotdogs over the fire for lunch, and after lunch we made smoke signals with fresh spruce sprigs over the still hot coals. On Day Two we headed to the Mellanskog office in Uppsala. Mellanskog is the forestry organization that represents forestry workers in central Sweden. We learned a lot while there, including further details on how their industry works, how to use a “brush saw,” and what some of the common trees are.
We learned that pine trees are the most commonly grown in the industry because they are fast-growing, straight, and good wood. Growing expensive wood like oak is a 200 to 300 year investment, while pine could potentially go from seedling to harvest in a lifetime. That’s why we planted 150 pine trees at the Newman Institute forest on Day Four. This may sound like a lot, but we hardly made a dent in the hectare that had been cut, cleared, and prepared for planting! The planting was a lot of fun, especially since we got to wear buckets of trees around our waists!
On Day Five we did quite the opposite, and took down at least 150 trees. We put our brush saw knowledge to work, and cleared out the unwanted trees. It seems counter intuitive to cut down trees to create a healthy forest, but if you want healthy, tall trees to harvest in the future, it is important that they don’t have to compete with many other trees while growing.
The week ended with an optional day of moving some big trees that had been cut down with a chainsaw. A few students participated, and with Fr. Phillip Geister, we moved around 80, 1.5 meter long logs, while others cut them with the chainsaw! It was a ton of work, but so rewarding seeing our big pile at the end of the day!
Loyola University Chicago is partnering with Know Tomorrow to sponsor a Day of Action in response to climate change! Two events will allow you to lend your voice to the cause.
Join us on October 1 at 5 p.m. in the Damen Cinema for a film screening of “Merchants of Doubt,” an illuminating look at how pundits-for-hire aim to spread maximum confusion about well-studied public threats including climate change.
Bring your new knowledge on October 2 from 11-2 p.m. to Damen Student Center and join other students in pledging to take action against climate change.
Opportunities will include pledges and petitions, social media activism, and free lunch!
Searle Biodiesel Lab receives award
What could bring together business leaders, government officials, students, and Loyola faculty all at the University’s Searle Biodiesel Lab?
Easy: a new chemical, a couple cleaning products, some hand soap, and a trade association. Or to put it more generally, products being made safer for families, pets, communities, and yes, the environment.
On July 21, the Institute of Environmental Sustainability’s Searle Biodiesel Lab was honored along with four other Chicagoland organizations by the Environmental Protection Agency. The five were among 21 recognized nationwide with the 2015 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award.
“We have more Partners of the Year for Safer Choice products [in the Chicago area] than anywhere else in the country,” said Susan Hedman, the EPA’s Region 5 Administrator, while waiting for presentation to begin. “I hope that people take away from this event that there are products out there that are good for the environment—and they’re also good for business.”
The EPA’s program highlights companies and organizations using safer, non-toxic chemical ingredients in cleaning and other products. Loyola was singled out for its BioSoap, which is made with glycerin, one of the byproducts of the lab’s biodiesel fuel production. The liquid soap, which began as a small-scale test, has grown to be the supplier of suds for the entire Lake Shore Campus.
The event featured speakers from each awarded business and organization, including Zach Waickman, the Searle Biodiesel Lab manager, who also led a tour through the facilities, fielding questions on the benefits of biodiesel fuel and the quality of Loyola’s waste vegetable oil supplies.
“This is a really cool thing for the students to see this whole arc that we’ve gone through,” said Waickman. “Around 2007, we started making the first attempts at a soap, and the idea was always to utilize this waste product that we were creating through biodiesel production and use it in campus restrooms. Little did we know what we were taking on.”
The first challenge? Producing enough soap. This past year the Lake Shore Campus used more than 1,000 gallons of hand soap.
Yet even after moving to larger facilities, Waickman came across another hurdle. When the lab found itself ready to take over the Lake Shore Campus’s restrooms, Loyola’s contractors reminded him of a requirement the University asked to be put in their new contract—one that said only green-certified products would be used on campus.
“They said, ‘Well, where’s your green seal?’” Waickman recalled.
That precondition led the lab to getting involved with the EPA’s Safer Choice program.
“We’re one of the few groups that likes external oversight,” Waickman said. “We want that validation that this small scrappy student-run process with these waste products is making a really innovative, environmentally friendly, effective product. So when we became partners in the Safer Choice program, it was really cool because we got it into the restrooms.”
For the future, Waickman hopes the lab will be able to expand to Loyola’s Water Tower Campus as well as to Northwestern University, which already uses its biodiesel fuel for its buses. In the meantime, a team of students is finishing up a reformulation process to continue improving the soap.
But don’t expect Waickman to add any unnecessary chemicals—though he fields plenty of questions on why the soap doesn’t look or suds up like others do.
“What we’re doing is a great example of moving into the next phase of environmentally sustainable business, which is moving from these extractive technologies and crazy amounts of chemicals to these really effective, natural products that have minimal or zero impact on the environment.”
Click here to see more photos of the event.
Taking on invasive species
By Anna Gaynor
It’s hard to believe that a few classroom pets could be a credible threat to the Great Lakes. And yet, that may be how the Louisiana swamp crayfish has snuck into the Chicago River and other freshwater bodies around the world.
Turns out, the crustacean makes a great animal for young students—right up until the end of the year when teachers are faced with a difficult dilemma.
“When you no longer need the pet in the classroom, it’s really hard to explain to the students that now we’re going to humanely dispose of this crayfish,” said Reuben Keller, PhD, a freshwater ecologist and an assistant professor in Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability. “It’s much easier to find a local creek.”
But that’s not the only way these large-clawed havoc wreakers can invade ecosystems, Keller said. Crayfish can sneak in with live bait that’s shipped up from the south, be used as lab animals, or be introduced as a source of food or sport.
So what can be done to keep crayfish and other invasive species in check?
Keller, who grew up in Australia and came to Loyola in 2011, is working on a new approach for this age-old problem.
An international dilemma
In terms of impact and literal size, cargo ships are among the largest transporters of invasive species. These massive vessels need to keep a constant weight: too light and they’ll roll over, too heavy and they’ll sink. When transporting small loads, the ships fill huge tanks in their hull with ballast water. When they take on more cargo, they pump the water back out.
That, however, also releases all the organisms that had been picked up from the previous port, introducing creatures from locales such as South America and Western Europe. By some estimates, ballast water can contain a thousand different species at a time.
It’s impossible for Keller and other ecologists to tell what organisms were introduced through ballast water but then failed to take hold. What they do know is which animals were successful at making trouble. So researchers identify the physical and environmental traits they have in common and classify what characteristics could signal a high-risk species.
“The best management and the best policy is to try and keep them out in the first place,” Keller said. “That means trying to predict what might arrive and figuring out what’s likely to be dangerous. We call that risk assessment for invasive species, so we try to look at species that might come in in the future and assess the risk, species by species.”
How they reproduce, how large they are, how they feed, what they eat, and how many eggs they produce a year are all features that ecologists study. Although the risk assessment models Keller develops and uses are relatively accurate, they’re not perfect.
A different approach
Keller has drawn a lot of attention from the scientific community throughout the Great Lakes region by joining forces with a group most ecologists are naturally suspicious of: economists.
“People get into ecology because they really like wild places, and people see a lot of economic forces are leading to the loss of those wild places,” Keller said. “As ecologists, we’re really interested in biodiversity and trying to conserve it, so you see the economists as being part of the driving force of what’s destroying the stuff that we love.”
Ignoring the sometimes thorny relationship between the two fields has placed Keller in front of policymakers, congressional staffers, and others to drum up support for new laws and grants.
“If you focus on the ecology, there’s just not enough there for managers and policymakers to use,” Keller said. “I started doing that work and I really wanted people to listen. Then I published it, people would read it, and it would stay within the academic realm.”
Keller also provides support for environmental groups fighting to put risk assessment and other prevention policies into effect on the national level. Peter Jenkins, an attorney and a consultant at the Center for Invasive Species Prevention, which backs legislative reforms and awareness programs, believes Keller’s work is bridging two important fields.
“In the real world, you can go in and make arguments about saving animals and saving wildlife, but it’s also very helpful to have backing with arguments based on economic cost benefit analysis—because economic arguments carry a lot of sway in the policy circles,” Jenkins said. “If you’re arguing for a particular policy and you can show that it makes economic sense as well as environmental sense, your task is easier.”
These kinds of policy decisions can range from getting cargo ships to discharge their ballast water in the ocean before heading into freshwater ports. Or on a smaller level, it can include an aquarium dealer who wants to introduce new species to the US market. Keller can use risk assessment models to determine which species are likely to be problematic if introduced in a new environment.
“If you go to the aquarium trade and tell them, ‘We want you to keep out all of these species,’ ” Keller said, “they’ll say, ‘Are you absolutely sure? You can’t unless you’re absolutely sure, because keeping them out represents lost revenue for me.’ ”
Beyond the science
Often policymakers and animal and plant dealers will argue that the cost of implementing these strategies or accidentally keeping a benign species out of the commercial market will end up being more costly than any repercussions. That’s where economist and frequent co-author, Michael R. Springborn, finds Keller’s work indispensable.
“You can’t think about that ecology in a vacuum because it’s exactly human behavior that’s leading to the problem,” said Springborn, an associate professor at the Department of Environmental Science & Policy at the University of California-Davis. “It’s trade and travel essentially that’s moving these species around, and that activity is going to be a main focus for policy interventions. The social science and the economics become critical to try and do that in an intelligent way and in a way that doesn’t impose unnecessary costs.”
That said, Keller hasn’t been content with just economics. In May 2011, he organized a conference of experts in a wide range of fields to discuss invasive species. It turned out so successful that Keller and two collaborators pulled together a collection of papers and essays—called Invasive Species in a Globalized World—based off the conference.
In addition to getting input from history and social science experts, the book features chapters from a children’s book author on developing a superhero who defends the Great Lakes and a civil engineer on testing structures that capture or damage the eggs of the troublesome common carp in Australia.
“I’ve done some good ecology, and you talk to people about it and they say, ‘That’s nice,’ and then they move on,” Keller said. “But getting people to actually listen to what you’re saying or trying to come up with something that’s socially relevant that you can get policymakers and managers interested in, you’ve got to go beyond ecology. I learned that pretty quickly.”
Understanding the Pope’s encyclical
Pope Francis didn’t mince any words this summer in his encyclical on the environment.
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Francis wrote in his open letter to the world, a 184-page document meant to spur environmental action among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Derived from the Greek word for “circle,” an encyclical is a letter from the Pope to clergy members and laity, and, in the late modern era, to “all people of good will.” This encyclical—titled Laudato Si (or “Praise Be To You”) and subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home”—is the 296th such document released by a pope. It is the first encyclical dedicated exclusively to the environment.
It’s a message that resonates with Loyola’s Nancy Tuchman, PhD, founding director of the University’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability.
“He tells it like it is, and he’s calling us all to action,” she said. “He says we have to move immediately, and it’s in the hands of the developed countries that have exploited the planet and consumed resources without concern for the environment or the poor.”
As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Loyola is committed to protecting the Earth and preserving its natural resources. In fact, it’s been recognized as one of the greenest universities in the nation. But it can do even more, Tuchman said.
“We are so poised to take off because of all the groundwork we’ve laid here,” she said. “We have such a strong foundation in justice and ethics and caring for the poor, and when you pair that with our sustainability efforts, we really have an amazing opportunity to go even further.”
Here, Tuchman talks about the Pope’s message, what it means for Loyola, and why inaction isn’t really an option when it comes to climate change.
What’s your main takeaway from the Pope’s encyclical?
It’s not just a letter saying there’s a problem going on here. It’s a directive. It’s telling us we are responsible and we need to act—now. We’ve been given all the information we need to know what’s happening to the environment. We’ve been given the tools, the technologies, and the knowledge to fix the problem. At this point, the only thing that’s stopping us is will.
What does his message mean for Loyola?
I think it will shine a light on what we’re doing already, but it will also help us expand our efforts and reach. We hosted a conference on climate change this spring, for example, that was attended by nearly a dozen Jesuit universities. One of the outcomes is that we’d like to develop a common environmental statement that all Jesuit universities can embrace. And I think the encyclical can help all of us come together and speak as a unified voice.
In addition to leading the Catholic Church, Pope Francis also has a background in science. How does that help him with this cause?
It gives him credibility because the evidence on climate change is based on science and is very measurable. So the fact that he can look at the data himself and evaluate it gives him tremendous credibility. But beyond that, he’s a very moral and ethical human being who isn’t afraid to get in the trenches with the people. He’s a good man who’s trustworthy—and he’s got scientific experience. He’s got all the goods.
And finally, what do you say to those who don’t believe in climate change?
Every single natural system on the planet is in decline, and you can’t deny that. And the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to maintain the kind of lifestyles we’re used to having. The longer we hold on to our consumption levels, the less likely our children—much less our grandchildren—will enjoy the lifestyles we’ve enjoyed.
STEP courses give students chance to make a difference
By Anna Gaynor
Research the problem—and then go solve it.
If it sounds challenging, that’s because it is. Yet students each semester in the Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) class study, develop, and enact a service project to address a local environmental issue. The fun part? Students pick the undertaking they want to study.
“It’s not like a lot of other classes I’ve taken in that it’s not really about taking tests or writing papers,” Jon Barber, an environmental science major, said. “You have freedom to actually choose what you want to do and pursue that.”
During his freshman year, Barber noticed that much of Loyola’s outdoor urban agricultural spaces go unused during the cold months on campus. So given the opportunity to choose what he wanted to study, Barber—now a senior—decided to research ways to extend the growing season into winter.
To do that, his group experimented with simple crops such as sprouts and microgreens to learn more about growing them in different spaces—from small indoor areas like a home kitchen to large greenhouses like the University’s Ecodome. The group hopes its research will shed light on easy and affordable methods that people can use to grow fresh produce at home during the winter.
A different kind of course
Each semester focuses on a different theme: food systems, water, or energy. Within those topics, students can decide what issue to tackle while getting guidance from STEP coordinator Tania Schusler, PhD, and from the staff, faculty, or community mentor attached to each project.
“I don’t think there’s any other class, especially if you’re an environmental science major, that’s like it,” Jason Moon, Barber’s group partner, said. “Most classes are lecture-based. You get to be more hands on in creating change in the world because you get to do your own project to try and solve the problem.”
The rest of Barber and Moon’s classmates are working on their own projects, such as raising student awareness for Loyola’s composting initiative, developing a curriculum for a local elementary school’s healthy living program, working with the Greater Roseland West Pullman Food Network, and making upgrades to Loyola’s beehives in the Winthrop Garden.
“It’s a much different structure than any other class,” Maggie Nykaza, a food systems and sustainable agriculture major, said. “You really get to choose what you get out of it. You really get to work on what interests you most, and you get to make a lasting change at Loyola’s campus.”
Actually, a lot of changes on campus have originated from STEP, which has served as the catalyst for the Biodiesel Lab, the Loyola Farmers Market, and just last semester, the bee apiary.
“I heard about this project, bringing bees to the garden, and I just thought that since Loyola’s already home to bees we should make sure that they have a good habitat around,” Nykaza said.
Nykaza and her two team members are planning upgrades to Winthrop Garden’s apiary, including new signage, a barrier to keep bees from wandering into a nearby alley, and native plants to provide them with some safe foraging grounds.
Learning beyond the classroom
Besides taking class trips for a food canning and preservation workshop and to visit a food distributor and a local organic market, STEP students have listened to guest speakers from across Loyola. While some talk about the environmental impact of industrial farming or the safety of GMOs, students also get perspectives on the obesity epidemic from the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the evolutionary history of agriculture from the Department of Anthropology, among other topics.
The wide array of speakers mirrors the variety of skills students develop over the course of the semester. There are project-specific ones such as beekeeping, writing a business proposal, and developing and executing a scientific experiment. Beyond that, students have told Schusler what else they’ve learned to do better—including meeting deadlines, overcoming unexpected challenges, speaking in public, and becoming more engaged with their own education.
Schusler stresses that the STEP courses are unique because they involve several disciplines and plenty of hands-on activities. The classes also represent Loyola’s commitment to the Jesuit idea of a transformative education, where students learn to understand their own gifts and then learn how to use those talents to create a difference in the world.
“That’s really the strength of STEP because it gives students an opportunity to build on talents they already bring to the classroom but then also to develop new skills, new strengths,” Schusler said. “It gives them an opportunity to explore a variety of different ideas and avenues in terms of understanding a problem and creating change to help solve it.”
Studying Soil Health on Green Roofs
Green roofs are being increasingly utilized on urban buildings for their ability to retain storm water, insulate buildings, and cool urban heat islands. Strong soil health is required for such services, yet few studies have examined the soil biodiversity and functioning in green roofs. Mycorrhizal fungi are an important indicator of soil health, forming symbioses with plant roots, enabling nutrient and water absorption a contributing to below ground carbon sequestration. Faculty and students are studying the abundance of mycorrhizal fungi on Loyola University Chicago’s green roofs as indicators of soil health.
Graduate Programs Expansion
New graduate program offerings from Loyola’s School of Education include:
The MEd in Organizational Evaluation is designed to prepare future organization leaders to improve an institution’s overall performance through the understanding and use of systematic data collection and evaluation.
The MEd in International Higher Education will provide students with deep knowledge of the changing landscape of higher education globally and will prepare them to work in multiple areas including higher education policy, administration, international student affairs and study abroad.
The MEd is English Language Teaching and Learning provides students with extensive knowledge and skills to meet the needs of linguistically diverse students in multiple contexts.
The Educational Specialist Degree in Clinical Mental Health prepares professionals who are knowledgeable about cultural influences on human development and who can meet client concerns from diverse cultural perspectives. A central goal of the program is to prepare culturally sensitive practitioners who, regardless of the setting, base their practices on scholarly inquiry.
The Doctor of Education in School Psychologist is designed for practicing school psychologists who wish to advance their careers through the pursuit of a targeted doctoral degree. The program will have an emphasis on developing students’ ability to: 1) think systemically, 2) develop their leadership potential, 3) access and implement evidence-based practices, and 4) further one’s capacity as an agent of social justice.
Principal Preparation - In partnership with the Chicago Public Schools and the Office of Catholic Schools, Loyola’s Principal Preparation program was collaboratively designed to ensure that candidates acquire a foundation of educational leadership, teaching and learning, research, data analysis, and community perspectives. Two options are available, the Master of Education in Instructional Leadership for practicing Archdiocesan Chicago teachers and the Doctor of Education in Administration and Supervision for selected Assistant Principals in Chicago Public Schools.
Undergraduate Teacher Preparation
Loyola University Chicago’s Teacher Preparation Program provides the most comprehensive and innovative undergraduate teacher preparation of any university in Illinois. This program has been designed with the overall goal in mind of supporting and preparing teacher professionals who are experienced in improving learning outcomes for all students, reducing the achievement gap, and having impact on diverse learners in diverse settings.
|Four cornerstones guide a student’s progression through the program, each focusing on elements of Teaching, Learning, and Leading with Schools and Communities.|
|Whether you aim to teach bilingual, early childhood, elementary, secondary or special education all students move through the three phases of field-based sequences and modules across the four years of study.|
|Community and school-based apprenticeship, with birth to grade 12 experiences for every teacher candidates.|
|All students will be eligible to apply for an English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) endorsement.|
|Watch a Video about the new program.|
Design Competition: Designing Father Garanzini’s Garden
A Design Workshop
with Landscape Architects & Designers
Saturday, February 21, 2015
12 pm – 3 pm
Crown Center Lobby & Auditorium
Interested in working with a landscape designer?
Want to see more wildlife on campus?
Enjoy edible plants?
Join us for a unique opportunity to learn what Loyola has done to create a sustainable, coastal landscape and then create a garden design that incorporates these practices.
You’ll get to merge aesthetics with function as you work alongside a landscape designer, who will guide you and a team of students through the design process.
Father Garanzini will judge the winning design, and each member of the winning team will receive a gift certificate to Lickity Split. Yum!
Important note: this workshop is an educational, design exercise. The winning design may or may not be installed. Following this event, all designs will be posted here.
The workshop is free and open to Loyola students, faculty, and staff only. Registration is required. The deadline to register is Thursday, February 19th at 4 pm. Go HERE to register.
We would like to thank our participating landscape architects and designers.
- Marcus de la Fleur, Dip, Hort, Kew, ASLA, PLA, owner of de la Fleur LLC
- Gary Lehman, principal and Founder of G Studio
- Brian Houck, Garden Insight & Horticulturist
- Carmen Vidal-Hallett, President of Eco VidalDesign
- Julia Plumb, Founding Principal of Green Plumb Garden Design
- Andrew Scott, Landscape Designer, SmithGroupJJR
- Chris Rink, Landscape Designer at Greenwise Organic
This is program is made possible through a generous grant from NOAA and the Illinois Coastal Management Program.
For this alum, it’s all about making an eco-friendly impact
By Anna Gaynor
For someone who didn’t plan on studying environmental science, Loyola alum Kelsey Horton has left her mark on the local green community.
Horton, who graduated in 2012 and now works at the Chicago-based Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), was struggling to pick a major a few years ago when she signed up to live in Loyola’s Green Learning Community. There she met Gina Lettiere, a sustainability specialist at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability who was co-teaching the UNIV 102 seminar.
Working with Lettiere, Horton became a key part of Loyola’s recycling program, doing outreach to different University departments. The two teamed up again in a Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP) class, in which students looked into starting a farmers market on campus and Lettiere served as a mentor.
As simple as the project sounded, there were plenty of questions to answer.
“It was a very new idea,” Horton said. “Where would we do it? Who would have to be involved? Do students even want it? What do farmers want out of a farmers market? I had no idea what I was doing. I was 19 years old.”
Horton made it through the semester, but after all that work, she found that she didn’t want to let the project go. The proposal continued to move forward until June 2011, when the Loyola Farmers Market opened on a gravel lot off Sheridan Road. Lettiere managed the operation and Horton served as assistant manager.
“I remember Gina and I had been working together to plan this for a very long time,” Horton said. “The very first day before it opened, a truck drove up from Michigan with our fruit farmer, and I just remember thinking, ‘This is real. Now there are higher stakes involved because there are people here who are trying to make a living.’ ”
The market proved so successful that it has since moved to the Loyola Plaza—a larger site just steps away from the Loyola Red Line stop—and it now features nearly a dozen vendors. (Learn more, including days and hours of operation, at the Loyola Farmers Market website.)
For Horton, working on the project was an invaluable experience.
“The ability to take a project and run with it was huge, and I think that’s something I really got from the sustainability program,” Horton said. “The opportunities are there for students who are willing to show up, volunteer, and try for internships and jobs.
“I was very grateful that I had the chance. I mean, I took a class about food systems when I was 19, and somehow two years later, I was bossing around farmers.”
After she graduated in 2012—and after she spent a week with other students helping a rural community build a greenhouse in Panama—Horton landed at MEEA, where she matches homeowners with energy efficiency rebates and with local businesses to make the home upgrades.
“My vision is that all single-family homeowners in Illinois are going to be comfortable,” Horton said. “They’re going to spend less money on their energy bills. They’re going to spend more money in their local communities, and we’re going to lower our carbon footprint.”
She attributes her work at Loyola to getting her current position. Besides having experience in real-life settings at the farmers market and the recycling program, Horton believes Loyola gave her another edge.
“I learned at Loyola that change can be slow, but it’s worth it,” Horton said. “I knew I wanted a job afterwards that was like one of those two jobs, which was not on a protest line and pointing fingers at the bad guys.
“I wanted something where I could pull people together and make an actual difference. At the farmers market we did that, at the recycling program we did that.”
Early Bird Gets the Worm
Four-thirty A.M. in Woodstock, IL: the only creatures awake are us and the birds. Driving into Boone Creek Conservation Area, the rain from the previous night was slowly tapering off. The five of us stepped out of the van to begin our 11 bird point counts for the McHenry County Audubon Society and the Bird Conservation Network.
Why are we crazy enough to wake up before sunrise to watch and listen to birds? In fact, birds are a good indication of biodiversity within an ecosystem. Organizations like the Audubon Society can use this information to draw valuable conclusions about state of restoration projects, and they can monitor populations over time and throughout seasons. Plus, we love birding!
Boone Creek Conservation Area is predominantly grasslands and oak savannahs, with some forested areas in between. It used to be a duck hunting club, but has since been restored to its current state.
As such, there is a wide variety of birds found throughout these varying habitats. Our job is to spend seven minutes at eleven different points within the park and record type and number of each species we see and hear. This task requires us to trudge through mud and trek through 7-foot tall grasses in order to get to the eleven predetermined observation points.
There were five of us on this morning. Father Steven Mitten, the most experienced birder, led the group with his 30+ years of experience. Sammy Keyport, Katie Pacholski, and Erin O’Connell are intermediate level birders who assisted Father Mitten with identification. Joe Gasior is new to birding, but eager to learn and help the team. Typically in bird counts, at least two people record sightings, to ensure that all species are noted. This is because birds do not often stay in one place for very long, and we want to guarantee accuracy. At the end of the day, the two note takers (Joe and Katie) compare notes and produce final numbers to submit to the McHenry County Audubon Society.
Even though it was overcast and a bit foggy, we observed 46 different species of birds. Of these, the most notable include our first Dickcissel (seen at the top of the page).
Actually, we only heard its call, but that is equally as exciting as seeing the bird itself. We saw a few Indigo Buntings, which are beautiful deep blue birds with a bubbly song.
In addition, we saw and heard our first Henslow’s Sparrow. Father Mitten saw two Green Herons fly overhead, which are peculiar birds with iridescent plumage and a deep, distinctive call.
Overall, it was a successful day of birding! We had spent three hours conducting our counts, and at 8 A.M., we headed back to LUREC for breakfast.
Loyola Students Kill the Cup
Loyola University Chicago recently took part in the inaugural KillTheCup.com competition and finished in second place!
KillTheCup.com is a project of Social Ventures for Sustainability, a nonprofit that partners with campuses and communities to encourage environmentally responsible consumer behavior.
The pilot KillTheCup.com program launched at the University of California, San Diego, in the spring of 2013. During their eight-week campaign last year, 351 students uploaded more than 1,000 photos to KillTheCup.com. The percentage of coffees sold in reusable containers rose by 68.6%, saving an estimated 1,300 cups, equivalent to 80 pounds of landfill waste, 350 pounds of CO2 emissions, and 350 gallons of water associated with the manufacturing process.
Hannah Lauer, a Loyola student who was an intern for Chicago Audubon during Summer 2014, described her experience volunteering for ecological restoration at LUREC."Through the restoration work at LUREC I realized that sustainability requires action, hard work, an open mind, and taking responsibility for the environment in which we live. I saw the power and impact that groups of people can have on the environment when they unite together for a common cause and goal."
Hannah still participates in monthly restoration work days. "I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge through my service work at LUREC. The time I have spent there is invaluable to me."
Come join Hannah at a Restoration Workday, held at LUREC every second Saturday. To sign up, contact Dr. Bobbi Lammers at email@example.com.
Farmers Market Assists LINK Card Families
The Loyola Farmers Market received funding to assist Illinois Link Card families to increase their ability to purchase more fresh, healthy local foods. Loyola Farmers Market began accepting the Illinois Link Card in 2012. In July 2014 the Loyola Market was awarded funds to provide a monetary incentive in the form of Double Value Coupons for purchases of LINK-approved locally grown and produced foods from vendors at the market. The work by the Market management to seek resources to support food assistance benefits to families is in direct alignment with the University’s mission to serve those in need.
The Illinois Link Program is the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system used in Illinois to distribute food assistance benefits to families. Increasingly farmers markets are being recognized as a means to increase access of healthy, fresh locally grown and produced foods for health benefits, to support a local food economy and build thriving communities. And ensuring families in need have access, the Loyola Farmers Market have taken action to implement the necessary infrastructure for families to use their Link Card to purchase food at the market.
Funding for the Double Value Coupons at the Loyola Farmers Market is sponsored and with technical support by LINK UP Illinois, a program of Experimental Station (an Illinois nonprofit) in partnership with Wholesome Wave and the Illinois Farmers Market Association (http://ilfarmersmarkets.org/). Targeted funding for the 2014 market season is provided by the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.
For details about the Double Value Coupons at the Loyola Farmers Market, please visit Loyola Farmers Market website.
The Loyola Farmers Market is held every Monday from June 9 to October 13, 2014, 3 pm to 7 pm at The Loyola Plaza, 6540-50 N. Sheridan Road in Rogers Park.
Loyola Earns AASHE Gold Rating
Loyola has earned a Gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The STARS rating system (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) is an extensive process looking at the operational, curricular, research, and administrative aspects of sustainability in a university. In doing so, Loyola is the first Chicago-land and Jesuit school to achieve this rating level.
This is THE national standard for rating a university's sustainability programs and performance. Over 200 institutions have been rated by STARS. Of those, only 54 have achieved a Gold rating. STARS is intended to consider social, economic and environmental factors managed by universities and is a useful tool for understanding sustainability across all sectors. Data from STARS is shared with the Princeton Review and Sierra Cool Schools for their annual report card programs.
This was a highly collaborative effort with a majority of the work being done by students in a graduate class in the School of Education led by faculty member Tavis Jules and the Director of Sustainability, Aaron Durnbaugh but drawing information from nearly all aspects of the university including academic affairs, research services, libraries, human resources, student development, investment, facilities, purchasing, dining services and others.
AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: 1) education & research, 2) operations, and 3) planning, administration & engagement.
Loyola's full report can be viewed HERE.
AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.
For more information about the STARS program, visit stars.aashe.org.
IES awarded $500,000 US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant
Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability was awarded a $500,000 US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to implement an innovative coastal wetland restoration, invasive plant management, and renewable bio-energy production project: Furthering capacity to maintain high quality coastal wetlands in Northern Michigan.
This project builds on over 10-years of Loyola research exploring the ecological impacts of invasive cattails on Great Lakes coastal wetlands, testing experimental restoration practices, and evaluating the potential for utilizing invasive wetland plants for biomass energy and is part of the IES Invasives-to-Energy program. The project region, northern Lower and the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, harbors the greatest concentration of ecologically high quality coastal wetlands in the US Great Lakes, but these critical ecosystems are increasingly threatened by the invasive plants Typha (invasive cattails), Phalaris arundinacea (reed-canary grass), and Phragmites australis (common reed). Nancy Tuchman (Founding Director of IES and Professor of Biology), Shane Lishawa (Research Associate IES), and collaborators have determined that mechanically harvesting these invaders promotes native marsh biodiversity recovery and harvested biomass is a viable material for renewable energy production.
Project goals include:
- restoring over 300 acres of invaded coastal wetlands
- converting ~800 tons of invasive plant biomass into carbon-neutral energy
- offsetting current and future restoration costs through the sale of biomass pellets
- remotely identifying populations of invasive plants &
- building capacity to sustain long-term invasive plant management in Northern Michigan.
Tuchman and Lishawa will lead this highly collaborative project, which includes partners from Oregon State University (Dennis Albert), DePaul University (Beth Lawrence), Lake Superior State University (Gregory Zimmerman), and the University of Michigan Biological Station (Knute Nadelhoffer).
New location, new vendors: Loyola's Farmers Market brings more to your table
By: Elizabeth Romanski
The Loyola Farmers Market returns for its fourth season, Monday, June 9, bringing fresh produce, baked goods and local dairy to its new Loyola Plaza location, just steps from the Loyola stop on the CTA Red Line.
The market features 12 vendors, including a new booth selling goods from the Loyola Institute of Environmental Sustainability's Urban Agriculture Program.
“The Urban Ag stand is key, as the food is grown on the Lake Shore campus,” said Gina Lettiere, Sustainability Specialist for Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability, who oversees the student-run market. “Along with produce and herbs, they will sell tilapia.”
The fish are raised through an aquaponics system in Loyola’s Ecodome and are only available by pre-order. At the market, shoppers can also indulge in D-ology’s gluten-free baked goods, choose from a variety of pesto by Presto Pesto or grab a hot tamale to-go at Tamale Express.
The idea for the market stemmed from a student project in Loyola’s Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP): Food Systems course in 2009, and the market was launched two years later.
Kelly Hof, 21, a senior environmental studies major, said she sees her role as a member of the market management team as an opportunity to learn more about local food systems.
“I feel that my generation greatly lacks a connection to food,” said Hof. “We have grown up with supermarkets and not knowing where our food comes from. As stewards to our community, Loyola has provided an excellent opportunity for both students and the Rogers Park community in bridging the gap between farm-to-table food accessibility.”
If you’re new to the farmers market scene, visit every tent to see all of what is available, said Karla Mracek, 30, a social work graduate student and is also on the market management team.
“And definitely be adventurous with your purchases,” Mracek said. “Try a new item that you haven’t had before, whether it be a fruit, veggie, bread, sauce, jam, meat. There is so much to offer.”
The market, which accepts LINK cards and SFMNP vouchers, opens its season on Monday, June 9, and is open every Monday through October 13, with summer hours from 3 to 7 p.m. Visit Loyola Farmers Market website for details and calendar of upcoming weekly activities and follow the market on Twitter @LUCFarmersMrkt.
Interested in volunteering? Contact Kelly Hof at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to the soil
By ANASTASIA BUSIEK
In 2007, Dave Miller (BS ’75) left a 30-year career in banking and real estate finance management and moved into organic farmland investments. He had reconnected with friends and family who had been doing organic farming, and he decided to purchase his uncle’s 10-acre farm near Danforth, Illinois, in Iroquois County. He wanted to make a new career out of buying farms, managing them, and converting them back to organic. Miller brought his idea to Stephen Rivard (BS ’75, MD ’79), a friend since high school and his roommate at Loyola.
“Dave and I have been dear friends all of our lives, effectively,” says Rivard. Rivard, who at the time co-directed the emergency medicine department at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois, was interested in organic farming on the basis of its health implications. “The chemicals that are now in the DNA of our food are poisonous,” he says. “We can neither digest nor assimilate these chemicals. If what we eat has no contaminants and is not modified, it’s healthier for us.”
With Miller’s business experience and Rivard’s medical expertise, the two came up with the concept that became Iroquois Valley Farms.
Miller and Rivard put together 10 friends and family members to buy 142 acres in Iroquois County. They now have more than 100 members and buy about a farm a month. Miller is CEO of Iroqouis Valley Farms, and Rivard is the Chair of the democratically elected board. Iroquois Valley’s business model is to buy farmland and lease it to mostly organic, mostly young, farmers.
“You’re an organic farmer, either currently in operation or thinking about it,” Miller says. “You need 80 acres, but you can’t afford to buy the land outright. So we buy it, you lease it, and you’re off and running.”
The plan is that the farmland will remain with that farmer for years to come.
“When we buy a farm, we don’t intend on selling except to the farmer,” Miller says. “It’s our intention that the farmer will have that land for the rest of his or her life.”
Iroquois Valley develops relationships with farmers looking to transition land to organic, and doesn’t move to buy land until it has a tenant prepared to farm it.
As Miller puts it, “We’re not a trading company; we’re a food company helping to impact the next generation of farmers.”
It takes three years to transition conventional farmland back to an organic state. A farmer cannot use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or other synthetic toxic chemicals, and must use no genetically modified seeds, in order to meet USDA organic standards. Planting a diverse rotation of crops naturally rebuilds the fertility of the soil. Microbacterial life returns, and earthworms—which Miller calls “the livestock of the soil”—flourish. The farm can now produce foods and feed that are certified organic.
“When we change the soils that we farm, we change the foods that are grown from those soils,” says Miller.
Initially, the primary crops were hay, corn, soybeans, and wheat. Now farmers are starting to grow specialty grains, like spelt, and edible beans. New farms provide organic feed grain, hay, and pasturelands for organic dairy production. It is up to each farmer to determine what to grow and sell within the local market. After seven years of leasing the land, Iroquois Valley will provide a purchase option to the farmers, although the farmers don’t have to buy it.
“In this business, historically, people have intended to sell the land,” Miller says. “You would take the money, take in investors, and then sell after five to ten years. We designed a company in which you don’t sell the land; you sell the stock.”
If the farmer doesn’t buy the land after the initial lease, Iroquois Valley can continue to hold it.
“It takes time and energy to show investors this, and to make them into believers,” Miller says. “Typical investment capital isn’t always enlightened about sustainability or its importance. We provide that enlightenment.”
“We’re encouraging people to invest in a healthy alternative to the stock market,” Rivard says. Although bringing committed investors on board can take years, the efforts of Miller and Rivard are bolstered by the growing trend toward socially responsible investing.
“How do we change the world? Eat healthier and invest in what we eat,” Miller says.
Through this combination of education, purchasing power, and commitment to sustainability, Iroquois Valley Farms has cultivated a social enterprise business model that works—and one that Miller and Rivard hope will change farming, investing, and public health for the better.
Award winning IES faculty and IES students!
Jeremy Gouldey, part-time instructor in IES (ENVS 214 Weather and Climatology) has received a 2013 Geological Society of America (GSA) Graduate Student Research Grant. The grant program provides partial support of master's and doctoral thesis research in the geological sciences for graduate students. Jeremey is a graduate student at Northwestern University.
Edgar Perez was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the international honor society of Jesuit Institutions of Higher Education, on October 17. He was also awarded the Rev. Ronald J. Ferguson, S.J. as the Most Outstanding Nominee. Edgar is an Environmental Science major.
Graduate student Natalie Lynch (Chemistry), Dr. Tham Hoang's (IES) graduate assistant, presented her metal mixture toxicity research at the North America Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Nashville, TN. Of the 680 platform presentations and 1000 posters presented by students from more than 30 countries, Natalie's presentation was selected for the best student presentation award this year.
LUREC Summer Scholarships now available!
This summer take a course in Loyola's "wilderness classroom" at the Retreat and Ecology Campus. Excellent field courses in Ecological Restoration, Ecology, Sustainable Agriculture, Ornithology, and Anthropology are taught in a field setting, and many of them provide experiential learning credit. For a list of courses and requirements, visit Summer Sessions.
Fall 2013 TGIF Projects Awarded
Loyola announces the first round of sustainability projects to be funded through The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF), a $50,000 grant program supporting student-led initiatives at Loyola. The projects span a wide range from studies looking at alternative energy on the Lake Shore Campus to installing food gardens for Rogers Park residents. Each project was evaluated for cost effectiveness, support of the student experience at Loyola and long-term sustainability by the TGIF Council, 7 students picked to oversee the outreach and funding.
All projects were proposed by students or student groups and have a staff or faculty sponsor. They will also be supported by a member of the TGIF Council and Loyola’s Office of Sustainability, Facilities Department and Student Development. A full list of selected projects is below:
- Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB): Campaign to Reduce the use of Plastic Bags on campus ($1,150)
- Solar Thermal Report on Residence Halls ($10,000)
- Renewable energy from stationary bikes ($1,000)
- Diversifying Sustainability at Loyola: A feasibility study of wind energy ($3,661)
- LUC Rain Garden Pilot Project ($4,000)
- Recycling: Implementing of electricity-generating cardio machines ($2,500)
- Collaborative Gardening: Building Resilient Community through Food Production ($1,265)
Another round of funding will be available in January of 2014 with proposals due by January 20th. Go to luc.edu/tgif for more information.
Loyola Purchasing Department Hosts Green Vendor Fair
As a way to showcase efficient and sustainable products, Loyola office supply vendor, Warehouse Direct, coordinated a vendor fair with the primary companies they represent. Products on display included recyclable and compostable serving ware, locally sourced and recycled content paper, and nontoxic supplies for cleaning. One of the major announcements was that orders will no longer be delivered by cardboard box but will be provided in reusable plastic totes, and for smaller orders, clear plastic bags, that will be returned after delivery is made. This will save a large amount of unnecessary packaging.
Thanksgiving Used Oil Collection
Used Cooking Oil Collection. If you deep fried your turkey, or just have a few containers of used cooking oil in your kitchen, drop off your used cooking oil at the Clean Energy Lab. Students will turn your old oil into biodiesel, a renewable replacement for petroleum diesel fuel. The fuel helps power the shuttle buses running between Loyola's Lakeshore and Watertower Campuses.
Institute of Environmental Sustainability
6349 N Kenmore Ave. (Lobby)
Chicago, IL 60660
Monday, December 2–Friday December 6
7 a.m.–7 p.m.
U.S. Energy and Climate Change: Science, Ethics, and Public Policies
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:00 pm, Mundelein Auditorium
Keynote speaker James Balog will discuss the scientific evidence for climate change with illustration from his documentary Chasing Ice, which won the award of Excellence in Cinematography at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for the 2013 Academy Awards.
Balog has been a leader in photographing and interpreting the natural environment for three decades. An avid mountaineer with a graduate degree in geography and geomorphology, Balog is equally at home on a Himalayan peak or a whitewater river, the African savannah or polar icecaps. To reveal the impact of climate change, James founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers ever conducted.
Friday, Nov. 15, 8:00-4:00, Mundelein Auditorium
The goal of this conference is to raise awareness about the urgency of climate change and to explore and discuss the validity of the scientific evidence supporting climate change, the ethics of fossil fuel extraction and energy production, and the public policy options regarding energy in the United States.
“We are bringing in some of the country’s top climate scientists. We have the region’s top environmental policy expert, and two of the most well-known environmental ethicists,” said Nancy Tuchman, PhD, director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability.
“We hope to develop some solid messaging concerning the ethical void in our decisions to develop and implement technologies like fracking, mountaintop removal, and tar sand extraction, instead of putting those efforts towards renewable energy technologies.”
- James Balog, Photographer and Founder, Extreme Ice Survey;
- Knute Nadelhoffer, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan and contributor to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;
- Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, New York City and author of Earth Community, Earth Ethics;
- Emanuel Agius, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Malta and member of the European Group of Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE);
- Howard Learner, President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center:
- Donald Wuebbles, Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois and author of the National Climate Assessment Report;
- Jame Schaeffer, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology/Ethics at Marquette University and author of Theological Foundations for Environmental Ethics
The conference is free for Loyola faculty, staff, and students. There is a registration fee of $25 for the general public. All persons are requested to register. Please indicate when registering if you plan to attend Friday lunch at the Institute for Environmental Sustainability as we only have availability for 250 persons. For the general public, the registration fee also includes the Balog lecture, the Friday portion of the conference and Friday lunch.
To register, please go to: www.luc.edu/sustainability/conference
For the conference website, please go to: http://www.luc.edu/theology/intellectuallife/usenergyandclimatechange/
Ozone expert brings science down to Earth for students
Ping Jing, PhD
Assistant professor, environmental science and meteorology
Congratulations on earning the Excellence in Teaching Freshmen Award. How did it feel to be selected?
First, I was surprised, and then I was very honored because I know I was nominated by students. As a teacher, it feels great when your teaching gets recognized by your own students.
Talk a little bit about the classes you teach.
I teach environmental science courses that satisfy the science core requirement—which means my students have a wide range of backgrounds, including science majors and non-science majors. I teach a variety of environmental issues focusing on climate change, air pollution, ozone depletion, and energy. I cover other topics, but that’s my area of expertise.
What do you hope your students take away from your classes?
I want them to understand these environmental issues because it’s important for our future citizens to be aware of these problems. And secondly, I think students should gain skills and experience. So I give them hands-on activities and projects to show them how the things they do everyday—like taking showers, eating meat, and commuting, for example—all have an effect on the environment.
And what about your research?
My expertise is in atmospheric science, and I’ve studied ozone extensively in my research. My current research focuses on climate change and air pollution in the Chicago area, so I’m working to downscale global environmental problems to the local level.
How did you become interested in environmental research?
I studied radar meteorology at a school called the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology in China. While I was in college, three scientists won the Nobel Prize in chemistry because of their study of ozone. It was in the news a lot and that was when I became aware of the ozone problem. It generated a lot of interest among young scientists, including myself.
How do you think the new Institute of Environmental Sustainability will affect the environmental science program?
The new institute brings the environmental researchers on campus together under one roof. And you’ve seen how wonderful the building looks—it helps to attract brilliant students to our new institute and prepare them to become leaders who can solve our environmental problems. I feel our institute will create a ripple effect: We are here as a small, local school, but we will be able to reach grander scales through the actions and influences made by our students.
Any hobbies or interests that balance your busy academic schedule?
I have a cat. She, like all cats, is very independent, so she doesn’t take much of my time. I do yoga, read, watch television and go to the movies. And I watch Chinese soap operas! (laughs)
About the professor
Hometown: Grew up in the Hunan province of China; now lives in Burr Ridge
Professor at Loyola since: 2009
Courses taught: Weather and Climatology (ENVS 214); Energy and the Environment (ENVS 273); and Human Impact on the Environment (ENVS 281).
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Hope is the thing with feathers
Despite several degrees and years of experience that indicate otherwise, Stephen Mitten, S.J., doesn’t think of himself strictly as a scientist. “I see myself more as a naturalist,” he says. “I’m an ambassador for the environment.”
See The Importance of Bird Watching a documentary by Loyola graduate student Amaechi Ugwu.
As spiritual director and resident ecology faculty at Loyola’s Retreat and Ecology Campus, Fr. Mitten teaches several biology and conservation courses. But his real love is avian ecology. Last summer, he and student Edgar Perez took a census of the birds and their breeding grounds on the rural campus in Woodstock, Illinois. Perez was an intern at the campus last summer, and will be again this summer, but he and Fr. Mitten have known each other since Fr. Mitten’s previous tenure at St. John’s Junior College in Belize, where Perez was a student. Now both are here, and both are highly invested in the research and restoration taking place at the Retreat and Ecology Campus.
Although the plant life at the campus had been surveyed and documented, the fauna had been much less so. The parts of an ecosystem are all connected, however, and birds can serve as good indicators of the health of the biological community. The data collected by Perez and Fr. Mitten will provide a baseline for the ongoing restoration of the campus’s woodlands and wetlands.
“When we do restoration you may lose some species and may gain others,” says Fr. Mitten. “How do we maintain biodiversity while meeting the goals we have for restoration?”
According to the final report, 69 bird species were documented, 40 species were found breeding or holding territories on the campus, and an additional 29 species were detected as flyovers or occasional visitors. The most common species were Red-winged Blackbirds, Gray Catbirds, American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Black capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, and Brown-headed Cowbirds.
Both Fr. Mitten and Perez have been interested in ornithology and ecology since childhood.
“When I was a kid, I used to ask my dad a lot of questions—what is this, what is that,” says Perez. “If he didn’t know, I went to find out. I was always curious about the environment. I purchased a bird book myself. I started to look over it and read it and learn the different parts that make a species.” Perez eventually became involved with the Audobon Society, and participated in bird counts on the society’s behalf in Belize. At St. John’s, he was further encouraged by Fr. Mitten’s own interest in birds.
Fr. Mitten is a local—he’s from Zion, Illinois, and earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. “I wanted to major in biology ever since I stole my Dad’s Kodak instamatic camera in fourth grade and set out to take pictures of all the birds in the back yard,” he says. “They were all just black specks, because I couldn’t really get close enough to get a good photo.”
The restoration process at the Retreat and Ecology Campus will take a long time. “The watershed basin has been really altered by past anthropomorphic ditch-digging,” Fr. Mitten says. The area was originally drained to create land for cattle grazing. Long-term goals are to remove invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle, restore the oak-hickory woodland, and reestablish the fen, a kind of wetland created by the retreat of glaciers.
Fr. Mitten will continue to work toward the restoration and contribute to the new Institute of Environmental Sustainability. He is developing a course in avian ecology, and he teaches a study abroad course in Belize in January. He hopes to instill in his students the idea that local actions can have global consequences. “What I do in Chicago has an impact on whether these tropical ecosystems will be around in the future,” Fr. Mitten says. And although he misses the biodiversity of the tropics, he values the particular ecosystems here as well. “Northern Illinois has things the tropics don’t. If we don’t have a glacier fen, we’re deprived,” he says. And, like St. Francis (which is Fr. Mitten’s middle name), he sees the divine in even the Gray Catbird. “They’re all God’s creatures—I can’t say one is better than the other,” he says. “They all reveal the imagination of our Creator.”
Perez will spend another year at Loyola, and then he plans to return to Belize and St. John’s to develop the environmental science program there. He is also particularly interested in the effects of toxic chemicals, such as pesticides, on biological systems. “Belize doesn’t have any ecotoxicologists,” he says. “I hope to become the first one.” He believes his scientific knowledge carries with it a responsibility to act. “Now that I have the knowledge I was after as a child, I realize there’s more to it than that,” he says. “I see environmental degradation, pollution, global warming. Hopefully I can do something with this knowledge that will help.”
Story courtesy of Loyola magazine (Spring 2013).
Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition Internship
The Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition is seeking student interns for sustainability assistance in Chicago-area restaurants. Positions are available immediately. Please read the description and contact Eloise Karlatiras directly, if interested.
Call for UMACS Conference Presentation Proposals
The Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) is looking for Illinois presenters at their conference November 8-9 in Decorah, IA. The deadline for proposals is September 6. Students must fill out the appropriate forms for their proposal and can find more information on the UMACS website. IES may be able to help with travel or housing for those accepted to present. For more information, contact Juliana Goodlaw-Morris.
The Green Initiative Fund
The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) is a new initiative at LUC that supports student run projects that have a goal of improving environmental sustainability efforts relating to student life and our campus. If you are interested in applying for funding to support your own research project, visit http://luc.orgsync.com/org/thegreeninitiativefund73347/About to apply!
IES is currently in search of a composting intern! The Composting Intern will help with compost collection, bolstering membership of the Compost Collection Network, researching potential markets, and promoting composting on-campus through a strategic campaign.
For more details, please read the job description and contact Hanh Pham with any questions.
Want to gain valuable experience working in the sustainability field? Consider applying to be a Sustainability Intern during the 2013-2014 academic year! Interns will help with campus outreach, gathering IES data, assisting campus compost initiatives, assisting IES's charitable collection drive and other tasks as needed. To apply, send a cover letter and a resume to Gina Lettiere.
Dr. Gina Coffee – Promoting Wellness in Children and Adolescents
Promoting Academic Competence in Children and Adolescents
Dr. Coffee’s research promotes evidence-based assessment and intervention practices, as she works closely with local schools, aligning research practices with the needs of those schools. Dr. Coffee and her student research team directly support schools in their assessment and intervention practices while also evaluating the effectiveness of these practices on student outcomes. In addition, Dr. Coffee, Dr. Markeda Newell of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and their respective research teams are currently conducting meta-analyses to determine the effectiveness of academic interventions on the performance of ethnically diverse learners. Finally, through a collaborative effort with experts in early childhood education, Dr. Coffee and her colleagues have written a book designed to promote evidence-based assessment and intervention practices in early childhood education settings. The book, entitled Early Childhood Education: A Practical Guide to Evidence-Based, Multi-Tiered Service Delivery (Coffee, Ray-Subramanian, Schanding, & Feeney-Kettler, 2013), was released by Routledge in January 2013.
Promoting Sexual Health of Adolescents
In addition to the evaluation of academic assessment and intervention practices in schools, Dr. Coffee’s research agenda includes the prevention of sex-risk behaviors among adolescents. This interest grew out of her participation on Dr. Susan Riesch’s Mission Possible: Parents and Kids Who Listen and the Kids United With Parents (‘SUP) projects when Dr. Coffee was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. These projects were housed within the nursing school, so Dr. Coffee had the unique opportunity to collaborate with nurses, children, and parents in meeting the common goal of improving children’s health. From this experience, her interest in collaborating across helping professions was sparked. Therefore, when Dr. Coffee began working at Loyola University Chicago, she promptly aligned myself with a colleague in the School of Nursing, established a relationship with the School-Based Health Center (SBHC) at a local high school, and developed a partnership with a local community agency.
In collaboration with these partners and her student research team, Dr. Coffee has conducted needs assessments within high-need communities. Dr. Coffee will use these data to prevent engagement in sex-risk behaviors and promote sexual health among underserved youth populations. Through this agenda, she will (1) use the needs assessment data collected from a local community to inform the selection, implementation, and evaluation of a program designed to prevent engagement in sex-risk behaviors among ethnically diverse young adolescents; (2) complete a formative program evaluation and conduct a summative program evaluation of an existing comprehensive sex education program that has been delivered to youth in suburbs surrounding Chicago for 50 years; and (3) begin to study the sexual, social, and emotional supports sexual and gender minority youth need in schools and to examine the extent to which comprehensive sex education programs are designed to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs and to prevent engagement in sex‐risk behaviors for sexual and gender minority youth.
In all, Dr. Coffee’s interests in research are guided by needs in the professional practice of school psychology, as she ultimately seeks to minimize the research to practice gap by conducting and disseminating research that will directly inform practice.