Environmental Studies Majors Hope to Leave a Lasting Impact on Colgate



Professors and students gathered for a brown bag in the Africana, Latin American, Asian American and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center Multipurpose Room last Friday to celebrate the progress and success of two sustainable research projects undertaken by Environmental Studies majors. Enrolled in the ENST’s upper-level class, entitled, “Community Based Research,” seniors Ian Dombroski and Sophie Rudolph presented the trajectory that their projects have taken over the course of the past semester. The class, required for all Environmental Studies majors, engages students in interdisciplinary work, focusing on current environmental issues in the context of community-based learning.

Rudolph, who presented her project on biking in Hamilton, spoke about the work that she has done transforming the ENST 390 project, “Increasing Biking in Hamilton, NY” which was started last spring by senior Kiera Crowley, Chris Crane ’12, Lisa Bonfantini `12, Emily Grieff ’12, Betsy Fischer `12 and Megan Snell `12. Building on their research on sustainable travel in the larger Hamilton community, Rudolph has created an action plan for the village.

“I created a preliminary, ‘working’ document that outlines next steps for the Village to take on their quest to become more bike friendly,” Rudolph said.

Her plan, which focuses on engineering and education, highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the project as well as the ENST major.

Rudolph shared her implementation of a bike rodeo to teach bike safety at Hamilton Central School starting later this spring. In addition to this educational component, the senior is also helping the town apply for a number of grants to secure bike-friendly infrastructure.

Dombroski’s presentation, which focused on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of the Trudy Fitness Center, also signifies the culmination of the work of many students that began in 2011. Past research by senior Anna Cvitkovic, Sonya Falcone `12, Mark Janett `12, Chris Mahoney `12 as well as Dombroski have focused on many aspects of Trudy’s sustainable features. The group has been accruing information on the University’s communication of Trudy’s features to the Colgate community and has been working to increase campus awareness about the building’s sustainability. Beginning with a survey of the student body, the group found that the vast majority of the Colgate community was unaware of Trudy’s “green” features. The impressive 34-page report that followed focused on the interviews and surveys that Dombroski’s fellow researchers had done. The group’s conclusions, which focused on the importance of sustainable features on college campuses as well as ways of communicating the building’s LEED certification to the community, paved the way for Dombroski’s work.

Dombroski chose to continue the efforts of his fellow students by organizing a Trudy certification-day event to further campus awareness of LEED. The event, he explained, would underscore the importance of having sustainable buildings on campus and increase the value of the building through a high level of community knowledge. To maximize the building’s value, Dombroski has arranged for the Trudy Fitness Center’s LEED Gold celebration on Thursday, February 28. The event, which will feature remarks by President Herbst,  Associate Director of Facilities and Capital Projects Joe Bello, Director of Fitness and Programming Andrew Turner and Ian Dombroski will spread LEED awareness and celebrate the University’s achievement.

While the Brown Bag focused on the success of these two projects, the event also highlighted the incredible progress being made within the ENST program at Colgate. In a Q&A to conclude the presentations, students and faculty within the Environmental studies program shared their “hopes and dreams” for the future of the major. While some students voiced a desire for improved job-related support from career services, others discussed their excitement about brand new course offerings in the fall. As students and faculty filed out, the focus was on the promising future of ENST. Picking up their bags, two seniors lamented the fact that they would not be around to take advantage of new ENST projects beginning in the fall, and professors chatted animatedly about their pleasure in seeing students continue to develop the program’s ongoing projects.

Contact Leah Robinson at

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