Those who know me and my deep-rooted Chicago provincialism have known I have been very happy in my work co-creating Roosevelt University’s Sustainability Studies program, enjoying the best pizza in the United States bar none, and developing angina while watching the White Sox play. It begs the question, why move to New York City?
My short answer is Pratt. Here’s the longer answer:
Sustainability at Pratt includes a variety of initiatives, including incubation of startup firms devoted to sustainability, community outreach both in its immediate Brooklyn environs and throughout New York City, graduate programs on planning and facilities management, and a plethora of undergraduate courses approaching sustainability from disciplines ranging from architecture to philosophy.
Within this very fertile environment, my immediate challenge as associate professor of sustainability studies is to coordinate an introductory SUST 201/202 Sustainable Core course that incorporates existing activities and expertise at Pratt. The goal is to provide students a broad overview of sustainability problems, concerns, values, and approaches that a) might lead them to consider related coursework and b) give them valuable perspective to bring to their futures regardless of career path.
For me, this opportunity is irresistible. My work is concerned with the consequences of consumption and waste on the environment and society, including unintended consequences of the disposal of mass-produced goods, stigma associated with handing wastes, and particular attention to the ways in which attitudes concerning waste and society shape each other over time. My position at Pratt is housed in the Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, an intuitive fit for my approach to sustainability. Furthermore, Pratt students are creative leaders who will shape art, fashion, industrial design, and the built environment in ways that will affect consumption and waste streams long after I am gone. This opportunity is an unusually vivid chance for this historian to apply my training and concerns to improve the future.
Delightfully, there is no shortage of passion for sustainable education among the people I have met at Pratt, and even though I destroyed my voice during this week’s visit to campus (a nasty cold combined with a marathon of animated meetings is a dangerous combination), our meetings leave me excited rather than exhausted. Anyway, if you are a Pratt student reading this, consider enrolling in SUST 201/202 The Sustainable Core this autumn. We are working on making it a memorable experience.
That, and not the stabbing pain I get behind the eyes when Robin Ventura calls on Hector Santiago to protect a lead, is the reason to move away from Chicago and to New York. Although a trade bringing Hector to the Yankees would be welcomed as I will soon be in position to root against the local American League team…