Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Planning Classes Take On Community Projects

Two classes within the college’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning are collaborating with FSU Sustainable Campus and other organizations on Living Lab projects for the spring semester.

The Campus as a Living Lab program is a Sustainable Campus initiative that connects university faculty and students to campus and community partners through multidisciplinary learning and applied research projects.

Ten graduate students in the Food Systems Planning class (URP 4408) taught by Associate Professor William Butler are studying food insecurity on campus in partnership with Sustainable Campus, Dean of Students and Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

The class is designing and deploying a survey on food insecurity, which is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources. According to Butler, the evolving project could also look into institutional barriers as well as opportunities to help address the problem, not only on campus but in the greater Tallahassee community as well.

“Laurelin Haas of Sustainable Campus reached out to me, and we discussed my classes and interests in sustainability,” said Butler. “She had been talking with Second Harvest about the lack of information on student food insecurity in the region and the need for better data.”

Haas also contacted Assistant Professor Tisha Holmes about having her Coastal Planning class (URP 5422) work with the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge on the coast in Wakulla County, south of Tallahassee, on an update to the visitor services component of the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The collaboration will also involve the Friends of St. Marks, which supports the conservation, education and preservation work of the refuge.

The project involves a multidisciplinary group of 11 grad students – eight from the planning department and three from aquatic environmental science – and three undergrads from interdisciplinary social sciences, political science, and environmental science and policy, along with one nondegree-seeking student.

The students are conducting background and case study research to identify visitor management strategies to include in the update of the refuge’s conservation plan.

While the classes began their applied research, Haas has been arranging site visits to different locations related to each project. All of the visits are fully funded through the Friends of St. Marks organization and the Sustainable Campus Green Fund.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of these collaborations at the end of the semester,” Haas said. “And I’m hoping to continue these wonderful partnerships with the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy in Fall 2020 and beyond. “

(Left:) Planning student Christopher Garcia surveys the stock in the FSU Food Bank pantry; (Right:) Anna Johnson (master’s student in aquatic environmental science) and Matthew Masa (political science undergraduate) at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.