View the Fall 2014 Capstone Presentations on our YouTube channel here, or subscribe to our account, NYU Environmental Studies, for more videos.
Expanding Green Roofs on University Campuses: A Guide
Instructors: Gwen Schantz and Ben Flanner
This course will engage students in a product‐oriented research and planning project, with the goal of producing a guide book that informs students on campuses throughout the US on how to plan and finance green roof projects, and get them built. The students will research the successes and failures of other institutions and student‐led green roof projects, and interview/collaborate with students from other schools in New York City who are currently undertaking such endeavors. The guide book will be a compilation of useful information, with contents such as:
• FAQ's and Helpful Facts about Green Roofs
• Roof Assessments and Engineering Concerns
• Establishing Faculty and Administration Partnerships
• Case Studies: Success and Failure Stories
• Use and Purpose of your Green Roof (why do you want one?)
• Liability and Legal Concerns
• Technology and Design: Menu of Green Roof Options
• Financing and Long‐Term Maintenance
Instructor: Kizzy Charles‐Guzman
This capstone took a comprehensive look at climate change mitigation and adaptation policy in NYC and identified areas and sectors that needed strategic engagement. Students worked collaboratively to identify and evaluate the climate programs developed by a variety of advocacy organizations and by NYC and NYS government; and evaluated the plausibility of a suite of strategies that will build upon and expand existing efforts to lower the city's carbon footprint.
The students reviewed a comprehensive range of data--from findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment, to climate adaptation plans and greenhouse gas mitigation policies developed by municipalities and states in the United States and internationally. The team also attended New York City Council hearings and several policy and advocacy events and forums over the course of the semester to understand the feasibility, momentum and background of key environmental quality proposals in the city. Finally, the team identified strategies that fill existing policy gaps, and tailored their implementation pathways to New York City. The resulting plan helps to advance the goal laid out in the Mayor's recently published One City; Built to Last: a reduction on GHG emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, by focusing on the City's existing building stock.
The Wildlife of Welikia: The Other New Yorks
Instructor: Eric Sanderson
The Mannahatta Project changed how New Yorkers see their city, literally and figuratively, juxtaposing the urban, culturally diverse landscape of Manhattan to the forested, ecologically diverse island of Mannahatta, as it existed just prior to European discovery 400 years ago [see Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (Abrams, 2009), and welikia.org.] In this capstone seminar, advanced Environmental Studies students will work with Dr. Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, on the Welikia Project on the historical ecology of the city beyond the boundaries of Manhattan: from the beaches of Brooklyn to the river valleys of the Bronx, from the seascape of Queens to the forested uplands of Staten Island. Students will learn how to synthesize materials across a broad sweep of disciplines (including geomorphology, landscape ecology, archaeology and conservation biology) within a geographically uniform, computational framework, based on geographic information system (GIS) analysis of historical and modern documents. These technical geographic operations will be placed in context by practical and theoretical considerations of how the past shapes the present, and how the choices we make about the environment, considered wholistically, create the future in New York City and elsewhere.
Specifically this fall's capstone will focus on documenting wildlife patterns in the city, with a focus on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Building on the work of past NYU capstones, students will work with the instructor to (1) create comprehensive bibliographies of the published literature on species observations in New York City and neighboring areas; (2) catalog species observations in an on-line database constructed for the purpose by the Wildlife Conservation Society; and (3) analyze patterns of urban biodiversity through space and time. Students will also have the opportunity to pro-actively deploy their learning by creating visions of city neighborhoods with enhanced biodiversity using the new Mannahatta2409.org platform. From these activities, students can be expect to gain an introduction to issues in urban biodiversity, learn how to construct and analyze species information using relationship databases, and the planning and conduct of large scale scientific investigations.