April 12, 2010

Student Work in New Orleans Will Be Recognized at Clinton Global Initiative University Conference

Members of the College’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project will attend the meeting April 16-18

A team of students and faculty who have been working to help rebuild New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward will be recognized at the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) conference.

Katherine Reeves ’10 (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Ting Chiu ’11 (Bedminster, N.J.), Jessalyn Rolwood ’10 (Titusville, N.J.), and Hannah Rhadigan ’11 (Lapeer, Mich.) will represent the College’s Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project (EEGLP)’s New Orleans team at the conference, which will take place April 16-18 at the University of Miami. A short video documenting the work in New Orleans will be shown.

EEGLP is one of 20 student groups to be featured at the conference, which is expected to draw about 1,500 students, 100 university presidents, and representatives of not-for-profit organizations to learn about and formulate new ways to address global challenges through community service projects.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the group representing Lafayette and EEGLP this year. This is an invaluable opportunity to share our work and also learn through interaction with other individuals committed to addressing global challenges. I think the time at the conference will provide further inspiration for the efforts continuing here at Lafayette,” Rolwood says.

Lafayette students and faculty have been working since the fall of 2007 with residents of the Lower Ninth Ward on projects to help rebuild the community, which was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Efforts have been focused on creating sustainable, green initiatives. The team has been working on projects to encourage the use of solar energy in the Lower Ninth Ward; to help establish urban farms, to design a town center shopping area using green technology, and to transform a former public school into a community arts center.

Under the direction of David Veshosky, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, team members have also been performing calculations to determine how population changes could affect the carbon footprint in the Lower Ninth Ward, and how redevelopment decisions can have positive or negative environmental effects. EEGLP is headed by Gladstone Fluney Hutchinson, associate professor of economics. Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art, and Jim Toia, director of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching program, have been working on the arts center initiative.

In New Orleans, the EEGLP team has been collaborating with numerous community organizations, including the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, Lower Ninth Ward Village, Lower Ninth Ward Center for Art, Culture, and Civic Engagement, L9W Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, Lower Ninth Ward Urban Farming Coalition, and The School at Blair Grocery, as well as the Center for Bio-Environmental Research at Tulane and Xavier universities, local and state officials, and local entrepreneurs.

“Selection for CGIU 2010 is really an honor, and confirms the EEGLP paradigm of public scholarship. The conference is not only an important opportunity for us to present the work we have been doing in New Orleans so far, but engagement with other conference attendees will also provide a valuable learning experience,” team leader Chiu says.

This is not the first time that EEGLP’s work in New Orleans has been recognized by Clinton. During the CGI U conference at Tulane University in March 2008, Clinton praised former team leaders Lori Gonzalez ’10 (Bronx, N.Y.), Reeves, and Kavinda Udugama ’09 (Kandy, Sri Lanka), for their efforts. Lafayette was one of nine student groups, out of more than 250 colleges and universities, to be recognized during the 2008 meeting. The project was also the recipient of a CGI Outstanding Commitment Grant in 2008, which was used to help fund the projects in New Orleans.

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