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Major Grant Gets LIU In an Eco-Friendly, New York State of Mind

A member of the CUSP team, LIU English Professor Deborah Mutnick | PC: Michael Chin

By: Kasidy Morales, News Editor

Will New York City make it to the future? And if it does, how will its people function? How will they live?

Those are just some of the many questions that the Brooklyn Campus is trying to answer about New York and climate change after receiving a major grant last spring. And now that the new semester has arrived, the research is also officially underway.

With an $80,065 grant from the National Endowment of Humanities, the Brooklyn Campus received a major boost in launching its Campus-Community Urban Sustainability (CUSP) program.

The project will bring together several academic programs – namely, biology, philosophy, English and adolescent education – to allow students to roll up their sleeves and get directly involved in the research and fight to address issues critical to New York City’s environmental present and future.

For participating students, CUSP will offer the chance to participate in experimental learning activities, guest lectures, and service learning opportunities via partnerships with several institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and the Brooklyn Public Library.

This program is led by Deborah Mutnick, an English professor here at LIU who is also co-director of the LIU Brooklyn Learning Communities.

To Mutnick, the powerful Atlantic hurricanes that have battered Caribbean islands and southern portions of the U.S. in recent weeks, give a greater level of importance to the project.

Almost five years ago, New York was struck by Hurricane Sandy, which caused massive flooding in low-lying areas of the city, shut down multiple subway stations, and more than $70 billion in damages across the state.

“We must first understand the causes of such events from multiple perspectives and then take responsible actions for our own times and the generations to follow,” says Mutnick. “We would like to do that with CUSP.”

Faculty and students in attendance for the CUSP grand opening at the media arts center. | PC: Michael Chin

Participating students are mentored throughout their time in the program. And opportunities for them to get directly involved will stretch beyond the Brooklyn Campus as they will get to closely observe how local community gardens, including the Youth Farm – an educational production farm in East Flatbush – and the Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm – are helping Brooklyn to sustain itself environmentally.

On Sept. 28, a grand opening was held for CUSP in the media arts center on the second floor of the humanities building. Professors and students of all majors gathered to listen to keynote speaker Professor Scott Carlin of LIU Post, and the CUSP team.

At the event, the cream cheese spread that was served up to attendees was made fresh with vegetables from the local garden here at LIU, and the tea was infused with herbs from the garden as well. The garden is student ran and is located on campus outside of the cafeteria.

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