The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University®
The NCSS responds to the imperative of integrating environmental stewardship with measures that maintain the long-term vitality of diverse suburban communities. Suburbs have emerged as a focal point for discussions of social and environmental sustainability. Past and present patterns of suburban development often have jeopardized ecological systems, human health, and future economic growth. This objective thus encompasses a broad range of projects, from re-designing suburban transportation systems, to re-imagining suburban homeownership, to remediating and supporting suburbs that have borne the heaviest environmental burdens. The Center is involved with several research projects on sustainability related to water pollution, stormwater management, renewable energy, sustainable transportation, community asset mapping, greenhouse gas management, suburban food production, and international sustainable development. In addition, the Center supports the Hofstra Student Garden which trains students on suburban agriculture.
Click below for a summary of existing and completed sustainability projects and programs:
Meet the Student Research Associates
- Superstorm Sandy Evacuation Study
- Sustainable Suburbs Conference
- BA, BS, and MA in Sustainability
- Journal of Suburban Sustainability
Sustainable Agriculture and Projects
Since 2012, the NCSS has been supporting Hofstra’s sustainability program’s student community garden. In May 2019, installed two raised beds, one of which is wheel-chair accessible (click here for more). Over the last five years, Hofstra University has hosted three food conferences and has established an active Slow Food chapter in 2018. Hofstra also has a popular Food Studies Minor program. Recently, Hofstra has partnered with Elija Farm to conduct a feasibility study to establish a Farm to School program utilizing Hofstra’s greenhouses. Annetta Centrella-Vitale is the coordinator of all things related to our agricultural programs.
LINAP Collaborative Project
Through a partnership between Hofstra University and the Town of Hempstead (ToH) Department of Conservation and Waterways, a water quality grant was awarded through the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) initiative to continue and expand water quality monitoring that the ToH has performed for approximately five decades. In addition, Hofstra University and the ToH are analyzing historic water quality records for trends and gaps using advanced geostatistical time series analysis. This program provides a cost-effective means to monitor nitrogen inputs to the south shore of Long Island. The collaborative project is led by Dr. Steve Raciti, Department of Biology at Hofstra University.
Long Beach Sun-posium Event
The City of Long Beach and Hofstra University’s Sustainability program partnered to present the Long Beach SUN-posium in October 2018 at the Long Beach Library Auditorium. The free event included a panel of environmental experts that discussed various local initiatives focused on energy, water, and waste, followed by a public Q&A session. Participants learned about solar rooftop research conducted in Long Beach (led by Dr. Sandra Garren, Director of Sustainability Research at the National Center for Suburban Sustainability); the City’s sustainability initiatives; and energy program incentives offered by various agencies including PSEG-LI, Green Homes Long Island and Community Development Corporation Long Island (Presentation).
Canada Geese on Long Island Study
In suburban Long Island, the conflict between the large Canada geese population and local residents and business owners has received tremendous attention. While some of us enjoy these large birds in our coastal and natural settings, others of us find them a nuisance due to their waste, noise, and presence on our roadways and runways. This report, authored by graduate student Christina Knoll with Dr. Russell Burke, Department of Geology and Robert Brinkmann, then Director of Sustainability Research at the NCSS, provides an assessment of the history and current status of Canada geese on Long Island. It includes current management strategies and policy initiatives along with recommendations and resources that will be of use to residents, wildlife managers, local officials, residents, and business owners across Long Island.
Streets Sweeping on Long Island: Understanding Current Practices
Street sweeping has become one of the most important tools for managing storm water quality throughout the United States. How we manage street sweeping in our villages impacts storm water pollution, waste management, and, of course, government budgets. While street sweeping is largely thought of as an urban issue, the number of suburban roadways regularly swept throughout the United States is staggering. Each day, fleets of street sweepers drive the suburban roads and cul de sacs of Long Island. Yet how do we manage street sweeping in Long Island? This report, “Street Sweeping on Long Island: Understanding Current Practices”, provides a starting point for better understanding suburban street sweeping and storm water management. We hope that this project will be of use as we find ways to solve the vexing problem of non-point pollution on Long Island. The study was presented as part of a larger presentation on MS4 Stormwater Requirements at a Joint Protection Committee Meeting in Roslyn Harbor in May 2015 (Presentation).
Harvard Long Island Study
This creative and forward-thinking book, “The Storm, the Strife, and Everyday Life: Sea Changes in the Suburbs” presents the results of a design studio at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Fall 2014, under the supervision of Harvard Professor Daniel D’Oca. The studio, which was generously sponsored by the Horace and Amy Hagedorn Fund in the New York Community Trust, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Rauch Foundation, invited graduate students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design to take stock of how Long Island is changing. Then, with advice from NCSS Executive Dean Lawrence Levy, who wrote a foreword to the book, the Harvard students used this research to work with community-based partners to help their communities confront today’s demographic and environmental realities.
Superstorm Sandy Evacuation Study in Long Beach, New York
Hofstra professors Dr. E. Christa Farmer (Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability), Dr. Mary Anne Trasciatti (Department of Rhetoric) and Dr. Elisabeth Ploran (Department of Psychology) conducted an interdisciplinary project analyzing how residents of Long Beach, NY made decisions about evacuating ahead of Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged coastal areas of Long Island in October 2012. The project, “Evaluating Evacuation Decision-Making Processes Among Residents of Long Beach, NY before Superstorm Sandy: Lessons for the Role of Authority and Language in Storm Warnings”, was supported by a $121,286 grant from the Connecticut Sea Grant project (funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), as well as the National Center for Suburban Studies. The project includes conducting interviews with Long Beach residents, many of whom ignored warnings to evacuate for Superstorm Sandy, to determine the messaging and sources of information that carried the most weight in their decision-making.
Pulp and Paper Greenhouse Gas Emissions Study
In 2012, the National Center for Suburban Studies was contracted by a major publication company to conduct an analysis of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the pulp and paper industry. The study, “Comparative analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from the pulp and paper industry of selected countries in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America,” was led by then doctoral student, Sandra Garren with Dr. Robert Brinkmann, then Director of Sustainability Research at the National Center for Suburban Studies. The study evaluated GHG emissions from the loss of forests, the energy use of recycled paper products, and from transportation of recycled papers across oceans.
Long Island Demographic Change Studies
The National Center for Suburban Studies was contracted to provide demographic data to a banking client in three phases of study. The core research was presented at a national conference in 2013. The presentation includes a map series that shows the geospatial distribution of demographic change between 2000 and 2010 and considered total population, population change, young adults (aged 18 to 34), ethnic groups, and household income changes in communities across Long Island.
Introduction to Sustainability, by Dr. Robert Brinkmann, is the first major textbook to review major themes in the cutting-edge field of sustainability. The text includes material on the development of the field of sustainability; environmental sustainability issues like water, food, and energy; social sustainability themes like environmental justice and transportation; and economic sustainability topics like green businesses and economic development. Interspersed with many fascinating case studies and text boxes that encourage students to deeply explore the material, Dr. Brinkmann’s book allows students to see the world in new ways while also encouraging them to become part of the change needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the planet.
The Storm, the Strife, and Everyday Life: Sea Changes in the Suburbs - This creative and forward-thinking book presents the results of a design studio at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Fall, 2014, under the supervision of Harvard Prof. Daniel D’Oca. The studio, which was generously sponsored by the Horace and Amy Hagedorn Fund in the NY Community Trust, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Rauch Foundation, invited graduate students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design to take stock of how Long Island is changing. Then, with advice from NCSS Executive Dean Lawrence Levy, who wrote a foreword to the book, the Harvard students used this research to work with community-based partners to help their communities confront today’s demographic and environmental realities.
Sustainability Studies Director Robert Brinkmann on Sinkholes
Florida Sinkholes - the first comprehensive book on the subject--is an easy-to-follow guide to understanding how sinkholes form and what to do about them. City planners, construction managers, developers, and homeowners alike will find this book invaluable because of the heavy impact and increasing frequency of sinkhole formation in the state. Packing an abundance of sound scientific fact into frank, readable language, this book examines case studies of notable sinkholes, explains karst--the Swiss cheese-like formations of soluble rock that underlie Florida’s peninsula--and reviews practical concerns like structural damage, repairs, and insurance problems related to sinkholes.
The Sustainability Studies Director, Robert Brinkmann, was featured on CNN, CBS, and published an editorial on CNN.com:
Living and Learning with the Bay
In the Spring 2019, the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra was funded under a grant from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) to develop a K-12 curriculum development, professional development for public school teacher, an academic research program, and community outreach and development within the Mill River Watershed. The program will run for three years starting in the Summer 2019. For more information on this program contact Annetta Centrella-Vitale, Program Manager for the project.
Environmental Certification Program for Policymakers
In partnership with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), Hofstra University developed an Environmental Certificate program for local government policymakers and staff, educators, and project workers in the Mill River Watershed. The free program includes monthly seminars and participants can earn a Certificate in Environmental Sustainability after attending six sessions or an Advanced Certificate after nine sessions. The program runs from February 2019 through December 2019 and will repeat in 2020 and 2021.
High School Summer Science Research Program Grants
Under a grant from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), research-oriented high school students are funded to participate in the prestigious High School Summer Science Research Program. In the summer of 2018, 18 high school students participated in the program and conducted research in the Mill River watershed. This program is slated to run for four summers and interested high school students may apply here.
Long Island Hurricane Conference and Hurricane Research
On October 3, 2018, Hofstra University hosted a hurricane conference, titled “Long Island Hurricanes on the 80th Anniversary of the 1938 Storm: Past, Present, and Future.” The conference had three panels covering past, present, and future aspects of Long Island Hurricanes. The keynote address was delivered by Louis Uccellini, Director of the US National Weather Service. There was also a community exhibition including remarks from Jack Schnirman, Nassau County Comptroller. The conference was organized by Dr. Jase Bernhardt, Sustainability professor at Hofstra, who is engaged in virtual reality (VR) work that simulates Category 3 hurricane landfall. Surveys are used to determine whether showing the VR can influence evacuation behavior in a hypothetical hurricane landfall. The surveys were run both on-campus at Hofstra University, and in Long Beach. This work has been covered extensively in the media including on The Weather Channel, in the Washington Post, and in Newsday.
Long Island Suburban Agriculture Conference
The future of sustainable food production on Long Island was addressed at the conference, State of Long Island's Suburban Agriculture - Where Do We Grow From Here? sponsored by Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Studies, the Long Island Food Coalition and the North Shore Land Alliance, on April 19, 2018. The conference featured food activist, writer and trainer Mark Winne as the keynote speaker. This conference brought together local experts in the fields of sustainable food production and distribution representing current practices in both agriculture and aquaculture. According to the event organizer, Annetta Centrella-Vitale, Hofstra Adjunct Instructor of Sustainability Studies, ”The desired outcome from this gathering of experts is to lay down the pathway for a vibrant local food system, one that supports growers committed to providing the community access to high quality products.”
Suburban Sustainability Symposium
One of the key questions facing society today is how it can survive problems such as global climate change, pollution, water scarcity, and environmental justice challenges. The suburbs are not often thought of as places where sustainable practices thrive. Yet, there are examples all over the United States where suburban communities are making great strides to improve not only the sustainability of their communities, but also of their regions and the broader United States. This one-day conference titled Suburban Sustainability: A Symposium was held in November 2016 and includes three panel discussions and a buffet lunch with a keynote discussion focused on the political successes and challenges for making our suburbs sustainable.
Sustainable Suburbs Conference
The conference, From the Outside In: Sustainable Futures for Global Cities and Suburbs, was held over three days in March 2013 and was hosted by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University and the Hofstra Cultural Center in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Center for the Sustainable Build Environment at the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate. The conference brought together experts from across country to discuss suburban challenges including environmental issues, food production, health, infrastructure, walkability, behavior, regional planning, immigration, and housing to name just a few topics.
The Palgrave Handbook of Sustainability: Case Studies and Practical Solutions
In 2018, Dr. Robert Brinkmann and Dr. Sandra Garren of Hofstra University published an edited case study book that highlights some of the most pressing sustainability problems of our time. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the practice of sustainability through a diverse range of case studies spanning across varied fields and areas of expertise. It provides a clear indication as to the contemporary state of sustainability in a time faced by issues such as global climate change, challenges of environmental justice, economic globalization and environmental contamination.
Introduction to Sustainability Textbook
Introduction to Sustainability, published in May 2016 by Dr. Robert Brinkmann (the former Director of Sustainability Research), is the first major textbook to review major themes in the cutting-edge field of sustainability. The text includes material on the development of the field of sustainability; environmental sustainability issues like water, food, and energy; social sustainability themes like environmental justice and transportation; and economic sustainability topics like green businesses and economic development. Interspersed with many fascinating case studies and text boxes that encourage students to deeply explore the material, Dr. Brinkmann’s book allows students to see the world in new ways while also encouraging them to become part of the change needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the planet.
Florida Sinkholes, authored by Dr. Robert Brinkmann in 2013, is the first comprehensive book on the subject--is an easy-to-follow guide to understanding how sinkholes form and what to do about them. City planners, construction managers, developers, and homeowners alike will find this book invaluable because of the heavy impact and increasing frequency of sinkhole formation in the state. Packing an abundance of sound scientific fact into frank, readable language, this book examines case studies of notable sinkholes, explains karst--the Swiss cheese-like formations of soluble rock that underlie Florida’s peninsula--and reviews practical concerns like structural damage, repairs, and insurance problems related to sinkholes.