By Ian Jackson
During the 2009-2010 academic year, Mike Bryson co-founded the Sustainability Studies (SUST) program at Roosevelt University with his College of Professional Studies colleagues Carl Zimring and Brad Hunt (now at the Pratt Institute and Newberry Library, respectively). Bryson launched the Sustainability Studies program in 2010 and it was the first undergraduate degree program of its kind in the Chicago region.Bryson also founded the new Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab. His current appointment at Roosevelt is in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches in and directs the Sustainability Studies Program. Previously he taught interdisciplinary seminars in humanities, natural science, sustainability studies, writing, and research methods in Roosevelt’s Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies from 1996-2015.
“The program’s classes combine insights from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to give students an interdisciplinary view of complex sustainability problems and solutions, from conserving water supplies to reducing waste to developing clean energy production to mitigating climate change to advocating for environmental justice,” said Bryson. Its foundation in the “Three Es of sustainability:” environment, economy, and equity emphasize how sustainability education embodies Roosevelt’s mission of promoting social justice. The city of Chicago and its surrounding communities constitute an exciting and diverse learning laboratory for our students and faculty to put sustainability principles into practice in service of environmental justice, community development, and ecological restoration.
“As a Sustainability Studies Student Associate, my job is to work with other organizations on campus to design and implement projects that promote a culture of sustainability at Roosevelt. It is important that people are informed about issues concerning sustainability especially at a time when environmental efforts are either being halted or scrapped all together,” said Moses Viveros, a senior SUST student of Bryson’s working as the program’s student associate. This semester at Roosevelt in ACP/SUST 250 The Sustainability University, 39 undergraduate students are embarking on a new adventure to learn about the university and sustainability. Sophomores, seniors, economics and IMC majors are all working together to create a greener environment here on campus.
“I would say that working in the line of sustainability is both an incredible opportunity, as well as one that requires a great deal of optimism. It is very disheartening when one comes to realize just how unsustainable our current practices are in terms of consumption, waste, food industry, and on and on,” said Jessenia Balcazar, current junior SUST student, peer mentor for Bryson’s SUST Sustainability University class and president of RU Green.