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Community Partnerships

There are many ways which UMBC contributes to sustainability in the community.

As part of UMBC’s research park is a Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) for green companies. UMBC has an entrepreneur in residence to assist these companies and facilitate the placement of student interns at these companies. There are many student internship opportunities available at the incubator companies; students are currently working on projects related to green building construction, solar energy, and bio-fuels. The incubator hosts events regularly to support the development of Clean Energy Technology in the Greater Baltimore area. http://www.bwtechumbc.com/ceti/

UMBC is a member of the Maryland Climate Communication Consortium, a statewide partnership – involving government agencies (state and local), non-profit organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and community leaders – whose goal is to cultivate public engagement so that Marylanders will be better prepared to participate in decisions about how to limit climate change, transition to clean energy, and prepare for unavoidable consequences of our changing climate. http://www.climatemaryland.org/organization/member-organizations/

We also worked with the BEVI Baltimore Electric Vehicle Initiative and hosted a team of interns to promote Electric Vehicles throughout the state. A press release is available here: http://www.b-evi.net/yes-corps/

Many of our student organizations also work with community partners to advance sustainability off campus. Student led organizations including Students for Environmental Awareness, the Environmental Task Force, and the Geography and Environmental Systems Council of Majors all volunteer with partners off campus. Additionally, graduate students have worked to establish community gardens in local schools and communities through the Shriver Center’s Peaceworker program and the Graduate ‘Food for Thought’ initiative (http://umbcbreakingground.wordpress.com/get-involved/serve/community-program-grant-recipients-2012-13/).

Lee Blaney, environmental engineering professor partners with Engineers without Borders in Kenya, and with local municipalities to help regulate and supply clean drinking water. http://umbcbreakingground.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/umbc-engineering-students-foster-development-of-clean-water-in-kenya/ http://www.umbc.edu/cbe/blaney/

Stephen Bradley, art professor, partnered with Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center and local students to design and paint a mural to raise awareness on environmental issues: http://umbcbreakingground.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/students-mentoring-students/. Another UMBC visual arts professor, Lisa Moren partners with communities to document and communicate about environmental issues as well: http://umbcmagazine.wordpress.com/umbc-magazine-fall-2013/green-future-earth-tones/.

Many UMBC faculty research and coursework forge partnerships to contribute to community efforts towards sustainability. Dr Chris Swan, Geography and Environmental Systems and Lynn Cazabon, professor of photography have partnered with Maryland prisons for inmates to assist in plant research and vacant lot restoration efforts in Baltimore City. (http://umbcmagazine.wordpress.com/umbc-magazine-fall-2013/green-future-plotting-a-new-course/)

Another faculty member working with Baltimore city sustainability efforts is Eric Zeemering, of the Public Policy department. He is publishing his research as a resource to the city, entitled “Collaborative Strategies for Sustainable Cities: Economy, Environment and Community in Baltimore”. (http://umbcmagazine.wordpress.com/umbc-magazine-fall-2013/green-future-beyond-definition/)

Environmental Justice—Dr. Dawn Biehler’s GES 424/624 teaches students to think critically about the ways race, class, gender and geography have shaped communities’ experiences of the physical environment in the U.S. This semester, students will learn directly from Baltimore residents about diverse perceptions of the environment and will develop GIS mapping skills through assisting in the identification and geolocation of amenities and hazards in the community. This project is linked with a four-year National Science Foundation grant to study pest hazards and related environmental issues in Baltimore. Results of interviews with residents and mapping activities will be shared with the community through events and displays at local libraries and community centers.

Environmental Politics — Dr. Roy Meyers’ course, Political Science 309 (Environmental Politics), is focused on helping students understand how political beliefs and political behaviors about environmental policy are formed and influenced and how political institutions affect decisions on environmental policies. All students will engage in political activities on environmental policy, such as writing letters to officials and agencies; working with electoral campaigns and interest groups on environmental issues; and attending hearings, decision meetings and demonstrations, giving students a range of hands-on experiences in political life and reflection on what they have learned.

Valerie Casasanto has been the Program Coordinator for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Joint Center for Earth Systems & Technology (JCET) since 2005, based at NASA GSFC.  Ms. Casasanto organizes and leads JCET’s student internship programs in Earth Sciences, and coordinates the GSFC office of JCET.  In addition, Ms. Casasanto is Principal Investigator for the NASA ROSES Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) award, Beautiful Earth: Experiencing and Learning Science in a New and Engaging Way (beautifulearth.gsfc.nasa.gov) engaging students and the general public in NASA Earth Science through music, art, and indigenous perspectives.