Thursday, November 8, 2012

Facebook Page for Sustainability Studies at Hofstra University + Fun Student Exercise

As my readers no doubt know, I am the Director of Sustainability Studies at Hofstra University.  We have a new Facebook page that you can see here.  This is the best place to get updates on courses/events/happenings/news related to the program.  If you have any interest at all, visit the page and "like" it so that you can get up to the date information, ask questions, or otherwise interact with others interested in the program.  For example, yesterday I posted information about an interesting in-class exercise my students did as part of a unit on green entrepreneurialism.

I asked them to brainstorm in small groups about how to develop a green business that addresses the needs that emerged as a result of the hurricane in our area.  There are still hundreds without power,  thousands of trees down, flooded and destroyed homes, gas shortages, and a myriad of other problems. The students were to design a business that addresses one of these or other problems with an eye toward making our communities more resilient.  

The students came up with some great ideas such as tree removal services that replanted lost trees and turned the downed trees into furniture or building materials, green fleets of vehicles that can be rented or used as jitney services in communities hard hit by flooding or gas shortages, creation of new building materials from waste products from the hurricane, and water filtrations systems built into existing homes that could use rainwater to provide safe drinking water year-round.
The winning team that developed the water filtration system
business plan.  Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

The students voted on their favorite idea and the winner was the water filtration idea.  The problem that many communities are having on Long Island (particularly Long Beach) is that they lost their public water supply system in the storm and residents had to evacuate due to the lack of safe drinking water.  The students' idea was to create an "off the grid" filtration system built into homes that filters and stores drinking water that could be used in an emergency for drinking water, but that could also be used to irrigate landscaping when drinking water is not needed.  There are a number of companies that have sprung up in recent years to help make people more resilient to disasters by providing ways to provide household energy.  The addition of water within this mix is innovative and my students reacted positively to this idea.  The photo of the winning team is here and on the Facebook page.

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