Bowdoin Course Explores How To Make Communities More Resilient

A map by Marina Henke ’19 shows the concentration of cultural amenities north and south of Delmar Boulevard, long known as a dividing line between St. Louis’s black and white communities.

Each year, environmental studies lecturer Eileen Johnson teaches students how to use GIS mapping technology and current scientific data to better understand, and propose solutions to, some of our most pressing social and environmental problems.

This fall she offered a course, Building Resilient Communities, which focuses on the ways in which environmental studies intersects with social science. In particular, her students looked at how local governance can help communities better cope with changing environmental conditions.

After collecting and interpreting social, geographic, and environmental data, students addressed a number of concerns — from hunger prevention to sea level rise and invasive species management. “Students chose community-based projects and worked with local organizations to explore an issue of local concern,” Johnson said. “Some students chose to examine particular challenges and opportunities faced by their own communities.”

The students presented their maps to the public at the end of the semester. “As a class, we also explored the ways that interactive GIS can provide an opportunity to effectively engage community members in longer-term planning processes,” Johnson said.

Check out some student projects:

Potential Mobile Food Pantry Locations in the MCHPP Service Area: Isaac Merson ’17, with Brunswick-based MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program

Effects of Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge on Small Island Communities in Hancock County, Maine: David Anderson ’19

Invasive Species Management for the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust: Mikayla Kifer ’19, with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust

Socioeconomic Divisions and Cultural Amenities Along Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri: Marina Henke ’19

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