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Date: Apr 29, 2008
Hofstra Launches Suburban Ecology Initiative with Boston College Unit to Create Healthy, Sustainable Communities
Nation's first effort aimed at suburban neighborhoods will engage Hofstra students and faculty, local residentsHofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies (NCSS) will receive $25,000 from the State of New York to create a Sustainable Suburban Neighborhoods Initiative, a joint project of the NCSS and Boston College’s renowned Urban Ecology Institute. It is believed to be the nation’s first such effort to focus entirely on suburban ecological and environmental issues.
The collaborative, multi-disciplinary project, initially funded by a grant sponsored by State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, is intended to explore ways to build bridges between high-quality research and the needs of the broader community, with the ultimate goal of creating ecologically, socially and economically healthy neighborhoods. The aim is to engage Hofstra faculty and students with people living in economically challenged communities.
“It’s extremely exciting for Hofstra and Long Island to be partnering with Boston College’s Urban Ecology Institute, which has an unmatched record of community engagement and scientific research that literally has transformed Boston neighborhoods,” said NCSS Executive Director Lawrence Levy. “This initiative is unique in a suburban environment. And it is in keeping with the NCSS mission to use Long Island as a laboratory for research into the revitalization and sustainable growth of suburban communities.”
The initiative would complement a new undergraduate academic program in Urban Ecology already being formed by Hofstra’s Department of Biology.
“Because of its location and commitment, Hofstra is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the ecology of the suburban landscape,” said Eric Strauss, the visionary creator and science director of Boston College’s institute. “Hofstra is developing a cutting-edge academic program through its Department of Biology. That is an important first step. But it also is bringing together faculty and students from many departments under the Suburban Neighborhoods Initiative. We are pleased to be part of nurturing this effort. I know of nothing else like it in a suburban setting.”
Dr. Strauss is a leading expert in the field of urban ecology, which emphasizes the interface between cities and the natural environment and the need to achieve a balance between people and nature. The Urban Ecology Institute partners with local schools and other colleges to promote the stewardship of healthy urban ecosystems by improving our knowledge of urban ecological function, and by engaging communities in the process of urban restoration and transformation.
“I look forward to this collaborative initiative to help Hofstra’s Urban Ecology program become more visible to potential undergraduate students, to facilitate interactions with other Hofstra University departments and to help our Urban Ecology program reach out to communities,” said Hofstra Biology Professor Russell Burke. “Half of the world's population lives in urban and suburban habitats, and ecologists are anxious to understand these environments better.
“Some urban ecologists study the way water and other resources are affected by pollution, development and other pressures. Some study nutrient flow from lawns and industry into oceans. Some help design buildings to make them more sustainable and appealing. Some run nature and interpretive programs, which may reach out to thousands of people. Many study how urban green space makes neighborhoods more desirable and has positive impacts on human health.”
The state grant sponsored by Senator Fuschillo will cover the cost of planning the initiative and other activities necessary to bring together various departments and student groups at both universities in order to find the best way to insure that the collaboration works smoothly for the benefit of the communities engaged. The Department of Biology, Department of Anthropology and Center for Civic Engagement would be among the many partners in the Hofstra initiative.
The National Center for Suburban Studies is a non-partisan research institution dedicated to promoting objective, academically rigorous study of suburbia’s problems, as well as its promise. Rooted in the laboratory of Long Island’s diverse and aging suburbs, the NCSS will study a broad range of issues from local and national perspectives and, whenever possible, collaborate with researchers at other respected institutions. The suburbs have emerged as the nexus of dynamic demographic, social, economic and environmental change in New York and throughout the United States. The tasks of identifying, analyzing and solving the problems of suburbia are essential for the health of the country – and central to the Center’s mission.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 145 undergraduate and 155 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 22 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence, cutting edge technology, extensive library resources, internships and special educational programs that appeal to their interests and abilities. The Hofstra community is driven, dynamic and energetic, helping students find and focus their strengths to prepare them for a successful future.
Related Link: For more on the National Center for Suburnban Studies: