Instructionally Related Activities Funds Request Summary

Project SponsorSean Anderson
Activity TitleService Learning in New Orleans (ESRM 492)
Activity/Event DateSpring Break 2015
Date Funding Needed ByOctober 2015
Previously Funded?Yes
Semester/YearSpring 2014
Proposal #
Report submitted for previously Funded Activity?Yes
Report submitted for previously Funded Activityira-report-form-10-01-13-nola-2013.docx (MS Word)
Academic Program or Center NameESRM
Estimated total Course Fee revenue10,200
Amount Requested from IRA27,265
Estimated Number of Students Participating12
Conditions and ConsiderationsField Trip
Brief Activity DescriptionStudents from ESRM 492 will participate in an intense 11-day field course in and around New Orleans, Louisiana. We will examine the management drivers that led to the man-made disasters that we know as Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. This course is a mix of tours by local experts, discussions with survivors and residents, environmental impact assessment, restoration efforts to reverse Katrina-induced degradation and the rebuilding of communities. For the past three years we have de-emphasized the physical rebuilding of structures and turned towards installing community food gardens in impoverished neighborhoods, splitting most trip days roughly evenly between garden installations and wetland restoration work. At the time of this application, we are just preparing to leave for this year’s trip over Spring Break in March of 2014 (our eighth such IRA funded trip).
Students will travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to examine first hand the on-going disruptions to daily life and the lingering impacts of poor coastal resource management. We will spend the first two days touring around the greater New Orleans region. Our travels will initially focus on the drivers of wetland loss and historic mismanagement of the Mississippi River delta by the Army Corps of Engineers, local levee boards, etc. The rest of the week will find us conducting environmental impact assessments and wetland restoration projects in Belle Chase’s Woodlands Trail and Park (one of the few remnant bottomland hardwood forests surrounding Greater New Orleans). Guest speakers and guides will come from Tulane University, Louisiana State University, the United States Geological Survey, the New Orleans Mayor Office, Basin Street Records, etc. In the past our final days were devoted to helping construct affordable housing units for displaced residents (in St. Bernard’s Parish, the Lower 9th Ward of Orleans Parish) and building community food gardens (in conjunction with Common Grounds community center in Buras, LA and with New Orleans Food and Farm Network in greater New Orleans). This trip I am attempting to deepen new relationships with a school in the Lower 9th Ward teaching children about gardening and sustainable food systems and with a just-beginning community farm in New Orleans’ City Park (Grow Dat Farms) which we partnered with very briefly last year.
Learning Outcomes and Relation to IRA to Course OfferingsWhile this trip is organized around one particular region, many of the lessons and learning outcomes bear directly on life in the Coastal Zone of California and beyond. Some of these outcomes include:
- understanding the links between environmental quality and human well-being
- articulating ecosystem services
- understanding that incompetent and corrupt leadership kills
- appreciating the influence of New Orleans culture on American visual and musical arts
- empowerment through community service
- fostering active citizenship
- understanding the importance of access to affordable, healthy food for all peoples
Description of Assessment ProcessStudents will present independent research project, documentation posters, videos, and/or demonstrations during finals week in a session open to the campus community. We will also post daily (brief) podcasts. Ultimately our physical products (food grown, trees planted, etc.) are the best assessment our efforts.
Activity Budget13-14-ira-travelbudget-nola-2015.xlsx (MS Excel)
CIA Budget
CIA Proposal
Course Syllabus
CIA Certification
Other Sources of FundingVarious in-kind supplies covered by several New Orleans entities. Examples include numerous experts’ time (journalists, engineers, etc.) and various materials (this past year, the citizens of Buras and New Orleans, LA offered us free meals when we were working in their communities, Louisiana State University’s Agricultural Extension contributing soil and wood for our community gardens, etc).
Additionally a piece of equipment that was partly paid for by IRA in 2008 (the rest from my own start-up funds), a tablet PC/GPS, will be used extensively during this trip (as it has for the previous five trips). This piece of equipment is also used throughout the school year by students in a variety of ESRM and Biology classes. Should this piece of equipment be damaged (as has happened on one previous trip), I would request IRA fees cover the repair cost (usually about $400).
I am also working on developing a fund raising effort that would potentially provide a modest funding stream to offset future IRA funding reductions. To date the university and its agents have yet to see the value of such fund raising, but we are persisting.
Target Audience/Student MarketingTwelve undergraduates from across campus.

Historically ESRM majors have comprised slightly less than half of course attendees, with Biology Majors comprising about 15%. The remainder have spanned nearly all other disciplines (Nursing, Sociology, Psychology, Chemistry, Political Science, History, Art, Business, Liberal Studies, Anthropology, Education, Communication, etc.) with Communications and Psychology majors the most common of these.
Bring Benefit to CampusPost-Spring Break we will host our annual poster/video/gumbo presentation session open to all of campus and the community wherein students wdocument some aspect of New Orleans culture and/or the recovery efforts with which they were engaged. A quite popular component to this campus event is a cooking demonstration by our students (who train with master Chefs at the New Orleans School of Cooking during our trip).

Last year we had 113 attendees (other than our enrolled students).
SustainabilityThis course centers around the sustainability of coastal ecosystems and human communities. Our swamp restoration is bolstering a degraded marsh which (when climate-induced sea level rise and subsidence are factored in) will be the southerly most stand of bottomland hardwood forest south of New Orleans within 60 years. This will amount to the ONLY biological protection for New Orleans from storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico.

Our food gardens are designed to both create healthy communities and teach life-long self sufficiency to children and young adults in the communities where we work. Some families depend on our gardens as a primary supplement for their household food stores for up to 3 months of the year.

Lastly, since our 2008 trip, we have always offset our transportation-related CO2 emissions. Previous administration positions have argued that such offsets were disallowed under university rules. I contest this in the most strongest manner possible. My students ALWAYS vote to pay the additional costs out of pocket, separate from formal university accounts. We have traditionally used TerraPass.
Program Chair/Directordonald.rodriguez
Academic Affairs AVPkaren.carey
AcknowledgementI acknowledge that I have reviewed and accepted the Conditions and Considerations herein. Please check off boxes as appropriate.

Program Chair/Director Approval

ApprovalI approve the IRA Funds Request described on this page
NameDonald Rodriguez
Date/Time3/1/2014 11:14:03 PM

Academic Affairs AVP Approval

ApprovalI approve the IRA Funds Request described on this page
NameKaren Carey
Date/Time3/2/2014 8:05:26 AM