LIU Brooklyn Awarded $80K National Endowment for the Humanities Connections Grant for Community Urban Sustainability Program


Brooklyn (May 3, 2017) —LIU Brooklyn announced an $80,065 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the school’s Campus-Community Urban Sustainability Program (CUSP).  CUSP will provide opportunities for campus members to investigate and address urban sustainability issues from an interdisciplinary perspective richly informed by the humanities.  The program also features experiential learning opportunities for students as well as public events, programs, and activities in partnership with other urban institutions.

The project will be led by Dr. Deborah Mutnick, Professor of English and Co-Director of the LIU Brooklyn Learning Communities.  Dr. Mutnick previously received an NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant for The Pathways to Freedom Digital Narrative Project and is co-editor of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service Learning. In addition to Dr. Mutnick, the interdisciplinary team consists of Dr. Margaret Cuonzo (Chair, Philosophy Department), Dr. Timothy Leslie (Associate Professor of Biology), Dr. Carole Griffiths (Associate Professor of Biology) and Dr. Jay Shuttleworth (Chair, Adolescent Education).  This team will support the development of an interdisciplinary cluster of courses in sustainability with the option of a minor.

“This grant builds on our core roots in the humanities and provide an interdisciplinary opportunity to address critical issues of urban sustainability,” Long Island University President Kimberly R. Cline said.  “I applaud Dr. Mutnick and her team for developing CUSP and the opportunities it will provide for our students and the community.”

CUSP will create: (1) an integrated set of courses in four disciplines (biology, English, philosophy, and adolescent education); (2) experiential learning opportunities for students through internships, service learning, and research with community collaborators, including the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and the Brooklyn Collection of the Brooklyn Public Library; and (3) spaces and opportunities for dialogue with the campus and community. A major aim of the grant project is to institutionalize sustainability studies at the LIU Brooklyn Campus.

“CUSP tackles the compelling need for humans to live more sustainably within the limits of the planet’s ecosystems,” Dr. Mutnick said.  “Following the lead of national organizations like the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, CUSP aims to build a campus-wide initiative at LIU Brooklyn to cultivate consciousness and promote civic and ethical behavior among all community members, especially undergraduate students, through engagement in interdisciplinary studies of sustainability.”

Another major consequence of CUSP’s work is the development of partnerships within the wider community of Brooklyn and New York City. Partnering with cultural institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Public Library will enrich CUSP’s core classes and activities through public events, programs, and opportunities. In addition, the program will strengthen ties with local urban farms and smaller groups like The Youth Farm, Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm, and the Old Stone House permaculture garden. CUSP will plan events and activities with these organizations, including class visits to farms, guest lectures on campus, and research and service-learning projects, which will be integrated into ongoing programs and partnerships. CUSP is also committed to developing a small, on-site community garden to serve as both a lab for the students and an inspiration for the campus.

This grant was one of just 208 humanities projects funded throughout the nation.  These grants include programs that support international collaboration, engage students in interdisciplinary courses, and help veterans.

“NEH grants matter in the many communities we serve around the country–in preserving cultural heritage, supporting local cultural organizations, and helping teachers teach and students learn,” said Chairman William D. Adams. “Our grants also matter at the national level, where they preserve our history and acquaint people more deeply with our cultural and political traditions. In making the humanities accessible to all Americans, NEH serves the common good.”

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by this study do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.