by Pace student Helen Arase ’14
Here’s a little tip: If you’re planning on asking Angelo Spillo, director of the Environmental Center and academic coordinator for Environmental Studies in Pleasantville, why Pace should be concerned with the environment, be prepared for a passionate response.
“Shouldn’t everyone? How can we not be concerned? Every semester I start my classes off by asking my students, ‘Who likes to have clean water to drink? Who likes breathing clean air? Who likes to eat food that grows in clean soil?’ They all raise their hands and smile as if to say ‘What dumb questions!’” he says. “But when I ask, ‘Who spends time thinking about the condition of our environment?’ only a few if any raise their hands. The point is that abuses to our environment, whether we care or not, will impact us all in some way. Maybe not today, but maybe in 10 or 20 years. The Pace Community, I believe, has a responsibility as an institution of higher education to do everything it can to promote environmental awareness.”
In addition to coordinating Earth Month and educating students on the environment, Spillo is currently working on environmental research with Pace undergraduate student Michelle Rodriguez. Chosen as one of 15 professor/student teams for the Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Program, Rodriguez and Spillo are trying to get at the heart of why students are indifferent to Pace’s environmental sustainability efforts.
Where do we stand on sustainability and our place in the natural world? This is the question the Spillo-Rodriguez team is asking. They hope to develop a response to encourage future participation at Pace and help connect and educate a higher percentage of students. Our earth is worth the hard work that Spillo and Rodriguez are doing, and we should support them!
For the past few months, they’ve collected roughly 250 student surveys that will have information about students’ perceptions and priorities of Pace’s environmental efforts. Their research will benefit the GreenPace Sustainability Committee and will suggest the next steps Pace should take to engage and better serve the students on both campuses in order to become a greener institution. If you want to see them presenting their research, stop by the Undergraduate Research End-of-Year Showcase on April 10 in PLV and make sure to check out Michelle’s blog entries for more info on their findings.
Make sure to stay tuned over the next few weeks as I interview more of Pace’s environmental crusaders!