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Michael Hamburger
Task Force on Campus Sustainability

Jana Wilson
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

School of Public and Environmental Affairs awards grants for sustainability research

Feb. 24, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Five Indiana University research projects -- examining topics that include forest management in the U.S., land use patterns in Brazil and Honduras and student transportation choices in Bloomington -- have been awarded IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs Sustainability Research Development Grants.

The new award program supports collaborative efforts of IU graduate students and faculty to develop new, externally funded research programs related to sustainability research that is connected to SPEA. The program grew out of a broad-based initiative by the IU Bloomington Task Force on Campus Sustainability and is consistent with environmental science and sustainability research priorities developed by IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

"Sustainability is an exciting field of research, and these projects demonstrate its diversity and potential impact, both locally and globally," said John D. Graham, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. "These grants show that SPEA is serious about helping Indiana University faculty become more productive and compete for external research funding."

"At the core of the sustainability initiative is the effort to better understand -- and find innovative solutions to -- the world's most challenging environmental and societal problems," said Michael Hamburger, co-chair of the Task Force on Campus Sustainability. "These five projects tap into the intellectual and creative resources of IU faculty and graduate students, and all have the potential to make significant impacts on our understanding of sustainability issues."

Projects and researchers selected for the awards include:

  • "Studying the Sustainability of Urban Social-Ecological Systems through the Urban Forest: Development of the Urban Forestry Resources and Institutions (UFRI) System." SPEA clinical professor Burney Fischer and doctoral students Sarah Mincey and Richard Thurau will lead a project to develop and test a new methodology for assessing urban forest sustainability.
  • "Third Party Sustainability Certification: Does the Forest Sustainability Certification (FSC) Program Deliver?" SPEA associate professor Kenneth Richards and master's student Miranda Hutten, in collaboration with Steven Rayner of Oxford University, will investigate whether forestry certification programs increase the global application of credible sustainable forest practices.
  • "Sustainable Development Strategies in Western Amazonia: A Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Land Use, Livelihood and Institutions." Eduardo Brondizio, associate professor of anthropology, and SPEA doctoral student Francisco deSouza will evaluate changes in land use, livelihood and institutions under three land tenure types in Acre state, Brazil.
  • "Sustainable Land Use: An Assessment of Technology Transfer Programs in Rural Honduras." SPEA professor J.C. Randolph, assistant professor of anthropology Catherine Tucker, and SPEA doctoral students Monica Paulson Priebe and Carlos Gonzalez Jaimes will study the degree to which technology transfer initiatives by non-governmental organizations influence environmentally sustainable land-use practices, using the example of NGO interventions in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.
  • "Transportation Sustainability at Campus Level: Students' Residential Location Choice and Transportation Mode Shift." SPEA associate professors Diane Henshel and David Good, master's students Yonghua Zou, Craig Harper, Max Jie Cui and Courtney Bonney, supported by adjunct advisers Kent McDaniel (IU Transportation Services), Rob Fischman (IU Maurer School of Law) and Nicole Schonemann (Office of Service Learning), will focus on the relationship between alternative transportation incentives and students' residential and behavioral choices and their impact on goals of transportation sustainability.

Each project will receive $10,000 that can be used for graduate fellowships, faculty research fund awards or summer faculty fellowships. Under Sustainability Research Development Grant guidelines, recipients are expected to develop new, collaborative lines of research that have the potential to grow into externally funded research projects.

Applications for the grant were submitted in January and were reviewed by a faculty committee. Proposals were rated on the basis of originality, relevance to sustainability programs, timeliness, feasibility, potential impact, coherence, and potential for attracting external funds.