SUST Symposium 2.2 (Spring 2016) Today at RU

Today, April 27th, is officially my favorite day of the semester: Symposium Day! Please join me at today’s Sustainability Studies Program at Roosevelt University for a special afternoon Symposium of student projects and research from 2:30-5:30pm in RU’s LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building at 425 S. Wabash Ave. in downtown Chicago (room 1214).

Students in Roosevelt’s SUST program will give presentations about their recent campus sustainability projects, internships, and research experiences in a forum that is open to all RU students, faculty, and staff as well as the general public. The Symposium also will be videoconferenced via Zoom, so you may attend online or by phone, if you wish (see below).

I’m exceedingly proud of all of these students and the work they’ve done this semester. Break a leg, everyone!

Featured Student Speakers

Members of SUST 390 Sustainable Campus (honors) — From Plan to Action: Moving Sustainability Forward at RU

Students in the Spring 2016 honors seminar “Sustainable Campus” will start our Symposium with a series of group presentations on their campus sustainability projects undertaken this spring to help advance RU’s Strategic Sustainability Plan across several fronts. Teams will discuss their initiatives in four areas: general education curriculum (Nicole Kasper & Kurt Witteman), food waste reduction (Michael Gobbel & Tom Smith), student orientation (Jessica Heinz, Claudia Remy, & Moses Viveros), and bottled water policy (Ashley Nesseler, Lacy Reyna, & Brandon Rohlwing). And if you think they look happy in this photo, wait until they’re done presenting today.

Lindsey Sharp — A Key to Unlocking Species Diversity at Lolldaiga Ranch

Lindsey is a senior SUST major and returning adult student who was awarded the prestigious Travis Foundation Scholarship this fall at RU, a competitive award given to 16 students each year. The scholarship enabled her to continue her studies as well as pursue a Spring 2016 internship at the Field Museum of Natural History, which she reported on recently here. Her project focuses on the preparation and identification process of specimens collected during field research in the Eastern Province of Kenya. The results of the identification process were also analyzed in order to determine the area’s population of rodent species, which can be compared to earlier samples gathered from the area in order to determine changes in biodiversity over time. Her talk will discuss her everyday work at the lab in the larger context of mammal ecology, biodiversity conservation, and the value of museum collections research.

Cassidy AventSummer at SCARCE: An Environmental Education Internship Experience

Throughout the summer of 2015, SUST senior Cassidy Avent had the opportunity to work as an intern for an environmental NGO known as School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE). Her summer included working at the SCARCE office in Glen Ellyn IL, giving environmental education presentations at schools and community events, participating in teacher workshops, and many other fulfilling activities. Within this presentation she discusses her experience at SCARCE along with all of the valuable information and insights she gathered while interning at such a fascinating place.

Tiffany Mucci head shotTiffany Mucci — Midewin: One Land’s Story of Recovery and Renewal

SUST senior and returning adult student Tiffany Mucci, who has served as the Assistant Editor of the SUST at RU Blog this academic year, explores Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie as a living example of both the challenges we face in restoring and managing our native landscapes, and the resiliency of nature. Her presentation will highlight this site’s history as one of our nation’s most productive ordnance complexes to ever exist, and reveal its present-day designation as a protected tallgrass prairie ecosystem under the U.S. Forest Service. From seeding, to frogging, to corralling the newly-adopted buffalo of Midewin, she’ll relate what goes into “making a prairie” in the 21st century.

Lacy-ReynaLacy Reyna — Temporal Distribution of Bryophytes in Cook County, IL

Senior science major and honors student Lacy Reyna, a double major in biology and psychology and RU’s 2015 Lincoln Laureate, worked in the botany division of the Field Museum while enrolled in the museum-based SUST 330 Biodiversity course this past fall with Lindsey. Using collections data from various institutions including the Field Museum, her research done in collaboration with FMNH scientists documents the shift in bryophyte species in Cook County across time. Her talk provides potential explanations for the shifts in species populations as well as discusses the importance of museum collections for biodiversity conservation.

Come join us to learn about and celebrate these students’ work! This event is free and refreshments are provided. Kindly RSVP to Mike Bryson ( your plans to attend. Videoconferencing will be made available via Zoom. Hope to see you there! And if you need further incentive to attend, just check out past Symposia from 2013-15.

Essential Information

  • Date / Time:  Wednesday, Apr. 27th, 2015 / 2:30-5:45pm
  • Agenda:  Refreshments served and pleasant hobnobbing begins at 2pm; presentations start promptly at 2:30pm; event concludes ~ 5:30pm (with more chit-chat and eating)
  • Place:  RU’s Wabash Building, 425 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago IL, room 1214
  • Zoom Videoconferencing: Can’t attend in person? See below!
  • RSVP:  SUST Director Mike Bryson (

Zoom Videoconference Information

  • Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
  • Or iPhone one-tap:  14086380968,368245293# or 16465588656,368245293#
  • Or Telephone:
    +1 877 369 0926 (US Toll Free) or +1 888 974 9888 (US Toll Free)
    Meeting ID: 368 245 293

Links to past Symposia

  • Symposium 1.1 (Fall 2013): Alison Breeding, Kyle Huff, Ron Taylor
  • Symposium 1.2 (Spring 2014): Colleen Dennis, Jordan Ewbank, Mary Beth Radeck
  • Symposium 2.1 (Spring 2015): Melanie Blume, Rebecca Quesnell, Mary Rasic, Emily Rhea
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Earth Month at Roosevelt

Earth Month Flyer RU 2016

This image is also available as a pdf. Also see RU’s Green Campus Blog for detailed info on the week’s many events and activities!

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City Creatures: Wildlife in the City

City Creatures book coverTomorrow afternoon my SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics class at Roosevelt University’s Chicago Campus proudly hosts a special presentation entitled “City Creatures: Urban Biodiversity in Chicago” at 3:30 p.m. in Roosevelt’s LEED-Gold Wabash Building, Room 1214. Dr. Gavin Van Horn of the Center for Humans and Nature will discuss his recent book, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness (University of Chicago Press), published in November 2015; and then engage in dialogue with my students and the RU community about urban biodiversity from the perspective of the environmental humanities.

Dr. Gavin Van HornDr. Van Horn is the co-editor of City Creatures and is the Director of Cultures of Conservation at the Center for Humans and Nature, as well as editor of the widely-read City Creatures blog. His work focuses particularly on how place-based values are developed and strengthened in dialogue with local landscapes. He continues to explore cultural perceptions of wildlife; place-based ethics; endangered species recovery, ethics, and policy; and the values involved in ecological restoration projects, community gardening, and wildlife management.

This special event is free and open to the public, and is hosted by students in SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics. A limited number of signed copies will be available for purchase ($30 cash) and discount order forms will be available.

Videoconference Option: For those who cannot attend in person, the City Creatures event will be video- and teleconferenced live via Zoom as well as recorded, so that you may watch and/or listen from anywhere in the world. Login information is here:

Topic: City Creatures at RU Presentation 11 Apr 2016
Time: Apr 12, 2016 3:30 PM (GMT-5:00) Central Time (US and Canada)

More on City Creatures from The University of Chicago Press website:

We usually think of cities as the domain of humans—but we are just one of thousands of species that call the urban landscape home. Chicago residents knowingly move among familiar creatures like squirrels, pigeons, and dogs, but might be surprised to learn about all the leafhoppers and water bears, black-crowned night herons and bison, beavers and massasauga rattlesnakes that are living alongside them. City Creatures introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.

City Creatures image 3The contributors bring a story-based approach to this urban safari, taking readers on birding expeditions to the Magic Hedge at Montrose Harbor on the North Side, canoe trips down the South Fork of the Chicago River (better known as Bubbly Creek), and insect-collecting forays or restoration work days in the suburban forest preserves.

The book is organized into six sections, each highlighting one type of place in which people might encounter animals in the city and suburbs. For example, schoolyard chickens and warrior wasps populate “Backyard Diversity,” live giraffes loom at the zoo and taxidermy-in-progress pheasants fascinate museum-goers in “Animals on Display,” and a chorus of deep-freeze frogs awaits in “Water Worlds.”

City Creatures image 2Although the book is rooted in Chicago’s landscape, nature lovers from cities around the globe will find a wealth of urban animal encounters that will open their senses to a new world that has been there all along. Its powerful combination of insightful narratives, numinous poetry, and full-color art throughout will help readers see the city—and the creatures who share it with us—in an entirely new light.

Posted in Arts, Biodiversity, Books, Chicago, Classes, Education, Events, Humanities, Literature, Roosevelt, Students, Sustainability, Urban ecology, Urban nature, Wildlife | Comments Off on City Creatures: Wildlife in the City

Register for Summer and Fall 2016 Classes at RU

RU WabashRoosevelt students — Registration for summer and fall classes is currently underway, so now is a great time to contact your advisor, map out your schedule, and get a spot in the classes you need. Check out the line-up of SUST offerings on the SUST blog for this summer and fall, and click on selected titles below for detailed course previews.

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Summer 2016:

SUST 210 Sustainable Future (online, May 31 – Aug 15, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 390 Writing Urban Nature (Chicago, May 23-27, yours truly)

Sustainability Studies courses offered in Fall 2016:

ACP 101 Our Sustainable Future (MW, 11am-12:15pm, Prof. Bryson)*
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (MW, 11am-12:15pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 210 Sustainable Future (8-week online, 8/29-10/21)§
SUST 220 Water (T, 2-4:30pm)
SUST 230 Food (14-week online, 9/12-12/10)
SUST 240 Waste (Th, 2-4:30pm)
SUST 310 Energy & Climate Change (W, 2-4:30pm, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 320 Sprawl (14-week online, 9/12-12/10, Prof. Pickren)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (Field Museum, Th 9am-1pm, Prof. Kerbis)
SUST 330 Biodiversity (8-week online, 10/29-12/17)§
SUST 350 Service & Sustainability (Eden Place Farm, T 12-3pm, Prof. Bryson)
SUST 390 Environmental Literature & Rhetoric (TTh, 12:30-1:45pm, Prof. Cryer)

* First Year Seminars are open to new full-time undergrads with 12 or fewer hours in transfer credit.
§ These 8-week accelerated online courses are open to all students and synced with the Flex-Track adult degree calendar. They may be taken back-to-back during the 16-week semester.

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Bernie Sanders Rally in Auditorium Theatre Tonight, March 14

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be holding a rally this evening, March 14, in the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and Senator Sanders is expected to begin speaking at 10:30.

According to the Sanders’ website, the event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. Admission is first come, first served. For security reasons, people should not bring bags and limit what they bring to small, personal items like keys and cell phones. Weapons, sharp objects, chairs, and signs or banners on sticks will not be allowed through security.

The Chicago Police Department will determine traffic closures as situations warrant.

Tom Karow, Assistant Vice President of Public Relations, Roosevelt University
Address replies to:  

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#RUinFlint this Weekend

JohnWFountainRoosevelt University journalism professor John W. Fountain and nine students in his JOUR 392 Convergence Newsroom class will be in Flint, Michigan, this weekend to report on the Flint water crisis. They’ll also have the opportunity to cover the Democratic candidates’ debate, broadcasting live from Flint on Sunday evening.

To follow along with the students’ experiences, just watch Twitter this weekend for the hashtag #RUinFlint.

For questions or more information, contact Dr. Marian Azzaro, Chair, Department of Communication (

Posted in Classes, Education, Faculty, Health, News, Politics, Pollution, Roosevelt, Social justice, Students, Water | Comments Off on #RUinFlint this Weekend

Diversity Week at RU, Feb 29-Mar4

RU Diversity Week S16 Calendar

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Politics, Climate Change, and the Supreme Court

Just as I began a four-week unit on climate change in my SUST 340 Policy, Law, & Ethics course here at Roosevelt (see pdf of syllabus) and in a space of just five days this past week, seismic quakes within the landscape of the US Supreme Court have shaken the nation’s fragile commitment to combating climate change by reducing carbon emissions and underscored the increasingly high political stakes of a tumultuous presidential campaign year.

This map shows which states supported the stay on Obama's emission restrictions plan for US power plants (in yellow) and which opposed the stay (red).

This map shows which states supported the stay on Obama’s emission restrictions plan for US power plants (in red) and which opposed the stay (yellow). Source: NY Times

As reported this past Wednesday, 10 Feb 2016, by the NY Times, “The Supreme Court’s surprise decision Tuesday to halt the carrying out of President Obama’s climate change regulation could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats say” (par. 1).

Journalist Coral Davenport goes on to note that “The court did not block the rule permanently, but halted it from being carried out in the states until legal challenges against it have been decided, a process that could take a year or more. Legal experts said the justices’ decision to stop work on the rule before any court had decided against it was unprecedented and signaled that the regulation might ultimately be overturned. That could set back the United States’ climate efforts for years, although there would still be a chance for Washington to meet its commitments by 2025″ (par. 5).

Then, just a few days after this split 5-4 vote on this unprecedented stay, the Supreme Court was thrown into unexpected uncertainty by the sudden death of its longtime conservative firebrand, Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Saturday at age 79, thus immediately igniting a political firestorm over the process for filling the Court’s vacancy within the context of the impending presidential election.

This Changes EverythingTuesday we begin our three-week discussion of Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

With the already-tempered enthusiasm of the recent Paris climate accord now battered by these latest upheavals on the US political and legal landscape, it’s hard to imagine a more timely and important conversation to be having right now in our universities and communities.

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STARS on the Chicago Skyline

RU Campus STARS logo

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Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, 1942-2015

I was very saddened to learn a few weeks ago of the passing of Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, whom I befriended several years ago while doing research on the life and work of her father and Chicago nature writer, Leonard Dubkin. Pauline graciously allowed me to interview her twice in 2007 and lent me a trove of her father’s papers and letters to assist my research, which she encouraged and supported with enthusiasm and generosity. She will be dearly missed by her family, colleagues, and many friends.

This is a reprint of the obituary, “Pauline Dubkin Yearwood, Journalist with Chicago Jewish News, Dies at 73” (Graydon Megan, Chicago Tribune, 6 Jan 2016).

Pauline Dubkin YearwoodPauline Dubkin Yearwood, the longtime managing editor of the Skokie-based Chicago Jewish News, was a prolific and award-winning journalist who covered topics from arts to health care to personal profiles.

“She was an excellent reporter and beyond that a very graceful writer,” said Joseph Aaron, editor and publisher of Chicago Jewish News. “She could handle any subject. For us she wrote a 2,500-word cover story almost every week — something like 900 cover stories.”

Aaron said Yearwood always took an unbiased approach to her work. “Everybody felt she’d given them a fair shake, covered the story fairly,” he said.

Yearwood 73, died of complications of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 22, 2015, according to her daughter Lagusta. She moved to her daughter’s home in New Paltz, N.Y., about a year ago after being diagnosed with the disease.

Pauline Dubkin Yearwood 2After high school at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, she got a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania before returning to the Chicago area to get a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University.

By the mid-1970s, she was married and living in Phoenix. She later divorced but remained in Phoenix, where she raised her children and began writing for newspapers including the Phoenix New Times and the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.

“She reviewed plays and was a theater critic,” her daughter said.

Yearwood moved back to the Chicago area in the late 1990s and was soon writing for the Chicago Jewish News, work she continued until early December.

“Her writing and reporting were both very impressive,” Aaron said. “I would give her an assignment, and she would know exactly who to call, how to pursue it and how to do the research.”

Yearwood won a Chicago Headline Club Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism in the category of Best in-depth Reporting in a Community Newspaper for her October 2008 story, “Obama and the Jews,” examining the relationship between the then soon-to-be president and the Jewish community.

She also won a 2014 American Jewish Press Association award for a 2013 profile of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

“I found her to be kind, probing and thought-provoking,” Lewis said in an email about the profile, which focused on Lewis’ conversion to the Jewish faith. “It is the essence of Jewish life she was interested in.”

Pauline Dubkin Yearwood 3“She was devoted to her children and her writing,” said former Tribune writer Harriet Choice, who met Yearwood when both were in high school.

Yearwood “also had a passion for animals, very into animal rights,” Choice said. That interest grew out of childhood adventures with her father, who took her to what he called his “secret places” to see natural places around the city.

“She did a lot of work for animal causes” and was a vegan for 22 years, her daughter said.

Judy Voigt, another longtime friend, called Yearwood a brilliant and prolific writer whose work didn’t stop at journalism. “She was an incredible writer — she wrote a couple of plays,” Voigt said.

Yearwood’s play, “The Natural History of Mozart Street,” was based on her father’s efforts to become an expert on nature in the city and was presented in 2010 as a staged reading by Chicago’s Genesis Theatrical Productions.

Aaron said he regularly heard compliments from people covered in Yearwood’s stories. “She really was able to grasp a topic and convey it in a both accurate and colorful way.”

She is also survived by her son, Leonard.

A tribute will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 24, in the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Graydon Megan is a freelance reporter. A version of this article appeared in print on January 07, 2016, in the Business section of the Chicago Tribune with the headline “Reporter, editor with Chicago Jewish News.”

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