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Campus and Urban Sustainability Program Grows at LIU Brooklyn


Long Island University Brooklyn Campus

Climate change is a big topic in today’s news outlets. The 17-year-old activist, Greta Thunberg, is at the forefront of the battle today.

Not many people are as educated as Thunberg, but at LIU Brooklyn, students learn about climate change, and other topics related to environmental sustainability thanks to a range of classes and clubs offered on campus. 

Professors Deborah Mutnick and Margaret Cuonzo are two professors behind the Campus Community Urban Sustainability Program, (CUSP), along with Professors Carole Griffiths, Glen Lawrence, Timothy Leslie, and Jay Shuttleworth. The program was started three years ago with support from aHumanities Connections grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

“Applying for this grant and working on CUSP was very much heightened by the crisis of climate change that we are confronting,” Mutnick said. The grant money goes toward classes, as well as guest speakers, travel expenses, supplies and the community garden at LIU Brooklyn.

Professor Mutnick is currently teaching the honors elective HHE169,The Nature of the City. “We focus on what makes up the city, the history of the city, as well as theories and the literal nature that is in the city,” Mutnick said. According to her, one of the biggest comments she gets from students who complete the class is that it taught them something that they didn’t know.

“I’d recommend the course for students because everything is connected back to the city of New York through maps. This is an interesting way to run the class because it is connected with the art of map making. Some of the maps show the vibrant and beautiful city that I know and love, while others show the aspects that we as society need to work on,” Tori Gray, a student currently taken Mutnick’s honor elective.

Other CUSP courses that have been offered at LIU Brooklyn include, English 201: Ecocriticism and City Life; Philosophy 230: Environmental Philosophy; and TAL 201: Ecological Citizenship.

Next semester, LIU Brooklyn is offering a couple of classes related to sustainability. One class, being taught by Professor Timothy Leslie, is BIO25, The Science of Sustainability. According to the class description, “This course will introduce and demonstrate the major environmental sustainability issues related to the natural and man-made environment, and allow you to consider their broader societal impacts and pathways to solving these problems.”

For the following Spring 2020 semester, Professor Cuonzo is planning on teaching her PHI 230 class. Throughout the course, topics that will be discussed include, if we owe things such as clean air and water to future generations, what fair solutions to environmental problems should be and what makes something natural as opposed to artificial. 

“I want my student to know that understanding the depth of the challenges we face doesn’t mean that we should give up hope about how such problems can be solved,” said Cuonzo. 

English 201, Ecocriticism and City Life focuses on human development in urban ecologies. The class will go through many readings, some may include, romantic poetry from authors Blake and Wordsworth as well as readings from the 19th Century. Students will document the rapidly changing surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods based on diversity and sustainability. 

“We come into this world and we not only inherit what we get from our parents but we inherit the world too,” Mutnick. 

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