In Summer 2018, Serve-Learn-Sustain partnered with the iGniTe First Year Summer Launch Program to introduce an exciting new Sustainability Track. For this linked courses program, faculty across multiple disciplines collaborated with community partners, with SLS, and with each other to educate students on our chosen theme: Equitable and Sustainable Development.

There was no more fruitful place to do this than Atlanta, Georgia, where the nationally renown Atlanta BeltLine project has raised important questions about sustainability and urban infrastructure, as well as gentrification. As students gathered for the summer session, they got a first-class introduction to these issues through a bus tour of the Atlanta BeltLine; they also attended a public talk with Ryan Gravel (whose Georgia Tech Master’s thesis launched the BeltLine years ago), and they participated in a student workshop: “‘What is Infrastructure?’ Building a More Sustainable & Equitable Future in Atlanta and Beyond.” These events set the stage for a fruitful summer term, as students found the connections between their course studies, and the city where they live:

“Personally, I have learned a lot about a local infrastructure project (Beltline) that I would not have if I had not attended Georgia Tech, let alone enrolled in Ignite… The SLS concepts not only apply to infrastructure projects, but to any sort of work being done to benefit the public. As a Tech student, I can apply these concepts on projects, internships, research opportunities, etc. to better ensure that my work will help someone in the community” – George Frampton, student.

The Equitable and Sustainable Development Track proved fruitful for faculty as well. Multiple Georgia Tech faculty used the linked courses program to develop and pilot teaching tools that are now available on Serve-Learn-Sustain’s Teaching Toolkit. Some of these tools respond directly to the BeltLine, such as the Living Infrastructure: The Atlanta Beltline tool, which uses stakeholder mapping to explore the various entities that influence and benefit from infrastructure projects.

Other tools branch away from the BeltLine, such as our Living Building suite. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech is a prime example of equitable development in action. With everything from case studies to mobile journalism to a participatory design game based off of our popular Smart Cities Kit, the Living Building suite explores the Living Building Challenge as a route to more sustainable infrastructure, both in Atlanta, and beyond.

Other Equitable and Sustainable Development tools are the subject of an upcoming SLS Teaching Toolkit Workshop: Climate Change, Health, and Equity. Join us Thursday, November 29th, from 10:45 – 11:45am in the Clough Lounge (Clough 205). PhD Candidate Kevin Lanza (SCaRP) will discuss two tools he developed this summer: Urban Heat Islands and the Georgia Tech Climate Network, and the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave. We hope to see you there!

And if you're interested in using one of our teaching tools, reach out to us!  We're currently offering teaching grants for instructors who want to pilot our teaching tools in their Spring and Fall 2019 courses.  If you'd like to learn more, reach out to Bethany Jacobs, our teaching toolkit manager.