February 11, 2010

Students and Faculty Continue Work in New Orleans

They are helping residents redevelop the Lower Ninth Ward as the first carbon-neutral community in the country

Over winter break, a group of students traveled to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans to help the local community rebuild in a sustainable manner after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The residents and numerous community organizations have committed to rebuilding as the first carbon-neutral community in the country.

As part of the College’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project (EEGLP), the students, led by David Veshosky, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, have developed a model for calculating, analyzing, and predicting the carbon footprint of the Lower Ninth Ward.

The group met with numerous community stakeholders to test the validity of the model. The students are Jackie Gowdy ’11 (Newington, Conn.), a double major in engineering studies and international affairs; Diana Hasegan ’10 (Tirgu Mures, Romania), who is pursuing a B.S. in civil engineering and an A.B. with a major in economics and business; Nigel Martin ’10 (Elkins, W.Va.), an engineering studies major; and Jessalyn Rolwood ’10 (Titusville, N.J.), a civil engineering major.

Veshosky says the next step will be to take the large amount of positive feedback that resulted from the trip and produce a final model. It will then be used as a tool for the residents to forecast how the various political, economic, cultural, and environmental factors of redevelopment and repopulation will affect their goal of a cost-effective way to achieve carbon neutrality.

Also accompanying the group on the trip were outgoing New Orleans team leader Katie Reeves ’10 (Colorado Springs, Colo.), a double major in economics & business and a self-designed, interdisciplinary major in bioenvironmental science, and current New Orleans team leader Ting Chiu ’11 (Bedminster, N.J.), an English and psychology double major. The students also met with community members and organizations involved with EEGLP’s other projects in the Lower Ninth Ward, including the design of a green lifestyle business center and a community arts center, and urban gardening and farming projects.

EEGLP, founded in 2007 by Gladstone Fluney Hutchinson, associate professor of economics, also has ongoing student-led projects in Easton and the Yoro region of Honduran to facilitate social entrepreneurship and economic sustainability. The students and faculty work through a collaborative co-learning approach with the residents of these communities to facilitate hands-on solutions to real-world problems.

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