The Robert F. Schumann Foundation has generously awarded the College of the Environment (COE) a 5-year, $2-million grant to focus on the areas of food security, environmental justice, and sustainability. The Schumann Institute of the COE will be adding new positions to enhance teaching, research, and community engagement; building a network of local community organizations that specialize in the areas of food security, environmental justice, and sustainability; providing opportunities for Wesleyan environmental studies students to work with these organizations to help their efforts; and creating a “pipeline” of professional training for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors of the practice so that they will have the skills and knowledge needed to contribute importantly when they leave Wesleyan. Enhanced courses; student immersion in community engagement projects; student internships; campus and community seminars, symposia, and workshops; scholarly output on environmental issues; and other related activities will all be supported with the grant.
Every year, the COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. Joel Rader ’23 is a film and environmental studies major who spent summer 2022 investigating how resilience has been “seeded” within the social-ecological system of the island of Culebra, Puerto, Rico, in the wake of the devastation wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria. To view Joel’s amazing fellowship project website, click here!
Tell us about your summer research project!
My project explored the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, as a Social-Ecological System (SES), including the integral contributions to SES resilience made by small business owners, activists, scientists, and environmentalists. The project focuses in particular on the significant work that the nonprofit organization Sociedad Ambiente Marino (SAM) does toward resilience efforts in Culebra. SAM’s efforts are not just important for the Culebra SES itself, but could be a replicable model for other island communities throughout the Caribbean that are among the most exposed to climate change impacts today. Among SAM’s important current projects is the restoration of endangered coral species that are important to this region of the Caribbean.