Racial Equity

Today is Juneteenth: Webinar with SLS

SLS Staff hosted a “brown bag” lunch and discussion of the significance and history of Juneteenth, how it is celebrated across the country, its connection to contemporary justice struggles, and an overview of exciting ways to gather virtually and celebrate Juneteenth in Atlanta via art, music, and local speakers. Staff members Jamie White-Jones and Ruthie Yow facilitated the conversation.


Centering Racial Equity in Equitable and Sustainable Development

SLS partnered with the iGniTe summer program to host an event with partners and students focused on Equitable and Sustainable Development


Sustaining the Conversation: A Review of Georgia Tech's Work Towards Racial Justice Through the Lens of 3 SDGs

In the Fall 2020 semester, Georgia Tech strived to thoughtfully address, evaluate, and take action on racial injustice on our campus and in the communities we serve. In a two-part series, Serve-Learn-Sustain created a space for students to reflect on Georgia Tech’s work to date through the lens of three U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Reduced Inequalities, Sustainable Cities & Communities, and Peace, Justice, & Strong Institutions.  

The first part of the series involved an opportunity for students to provide written feedback on Georgia Tech's progress and initiative.  For the second part of the series, Serve-Learn-Sustain’s Racial Justice Fellows, Jazmin Lucio and Josslyn Lally, hosted a discussion around the institute’s initiatives and responses. Feedback from part one and the framing of the SDGs helped guide the conversation and live feedback during the discussion was encouraged. Candidly discussing our response to racial injustice and the Institute's progress on these topics is of utmost importance for acknowledging where we stand now and where we can continue to sustainably develop a racially aware and equitable campus culture. 

IMPACT Speaker Series 2020

Dr. Beverly Tatum

Dr. Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, is a nationally recognized authority on racial issues in America and a licensed clinical psychologist who has toured extensively, leading workshops and presenting papers and lectures on racial identity development. Dr. Tatum is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, which was released as a fifth anniversary edition in January 2003. Since its original publication in 1997, the book has been listed on the Independent Bookstore Bestseller list and was selected as the multicultural book of the year in 1998 by the National Association of Multicultural Education. The New York Times recommended the book as required reading for private school teachers and administrators in the greater New York area who were dealing with issues of race and class. Dr. Tatum is also the author of Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (1987) and has published widely in social science and education journals. In May 2007, Dr. Tatum released Can We Talk About Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation.

What is Civic Innovation?  Stories From Atlantans Who are Making a Difference

Center for Civic Innovation Fellows discuss their hopes and struggles to create a more just and equitable Atlanta for all.  CCI’s Civic Innovation Fellowship has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs and a select number of ideas are now being tested to quantify how their work contributes to systems change in Atlanta. Building off the recent success of their collaboration with InvestAtlanta and Sara Blakely Foundation, CCI is preparing for the next stage of growth by raising additional capital to directly fund scalable ventures that emerge out of its residency program.

Fall 2016 Liam's Legacy Symposium:  Data-driven Research for Environmental Justice: How Universities Can Help Move Vulnerable Communities from Surviving to Thriving

The U.S. environmental justice movement has prompted much research and debate in the past several decades about the existence of racial and socioeconomic disparities around environmentally hazardous sites of a wide variety. Through recent advancements, many of the uncertainties about the existence and magnitude of such disparities are being resolved. At the same time, uncertainties have also existed about the causes of the disparities. Indeed, the most fundamental question - Which came first, the people or the pollution? - has yet to be satisfactorily answered. Are present-day disparities the result of a historical pattern of siting polluting facilities in minority and poor communities, or are they the result of demographic changes after siting? GIS and other recent methodological advancements are applied in a national-level analysis to attempt to answer these questions and to identify the racial, market-based, and socio-political factors that account for present-day environmental disparities.

Fall 2017 Liam's Legacy Symposium: Creating, Implementing, & Measuring the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, after a 4-year negotiation process, 193 United Nations member countries agreed upon a new global framework for development that included 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The “SDGs” span nearly every developmental issue facing the world, from climate change to poverty to sustainable production and consumption. They are as relevant in the United States as they are in places like Somalia. The ambition of this universal agenda is to shepherd the whole world towards a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future, where no one is left behind. Join guest speaker Jessica Espey, who was a lead negotiator in the SDG process, as she reflects on the negotiation process and shares insights into SDG implementation in diverse locations around the world. Jessica Espey is a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), responsible for directing SDSN’s work on data, monitoring and accountability for the SDGs. She also manages much of SDSN’s work on sustainable cities. Current projects focus on data collection and management for SDG measurement. Espey also serves as official liaison for the Scientific Steering Committee of the IPCC Conference on Cities and Climate Change. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Modern History from the University of Oxford and a Master of Sciences degree in the Political Economy of Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Over the past 12 years she has lived and worked in Liberia, Kenya, Rwanda, the UK and the US. She has particular expertise in the study of inequality, age and gender discrimination, as well as data systems for sustainable development.​

Spring 2018 Liam's Legacy Symposium: U.N. Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals

SLS and the RCE Youth Network welcomed two of the United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals, Trisha Shetty, founder and CEO, She Says, and Ranier Mallol, Co-Founder and President, AIME, to Georgia Tech's campus to discuss their year working with the Office of the UN Secretary General's Envoy on Youth on efforts to engage young people in the realization of the Goals. The panel discussion featured faculty panelists Dr. Jennifer Singh (Associate Professor, History and Sociology, Georgia Tech), and Dr. Rubina Malik (Career Development Coach, Assistant Professor, Business, Morehouse College), as well as student panelists Delaney Rickles (Civil Engineering undergraduate, Georgia Tech), Michael Bryan II (Environmental Engineering undergraduate, Georgia Tech), and Sienna Nordquist (Economics and International Studies undergraduate, Emory University).​

Fall 2018 Liam's Legacy Symposium: Energy, Justice, and Community Health: Ideas and Big Connections

The Fall 2018 Liam's Legacy Symposium examines the theme of "energy justice," the challenge of how to provide affordable, safe and reliable energy for all. Energy justice is linked to housing equity, public health, clean energy, and equitable development, which are all critical areas for Atlanta students, researchers, and emerging leaders. This event will promote broader and deeper engagement with the ideas of energy justice and community health here at Tech. The invited speakers focus on interlocking issues of energy justice and community health through their research and policy work.

Spring 2019 Liam's Legacy Symposium (Part 1): Community Health: Focus on Georgia

The first panel of the Spring 2019 Liam's Legacy Symposium focused on community health at the local and regional registers and highlighted the connectedness of local and global community health challenges and innovations. Featured panelists included Khari Diop of the Greening Youth Foundation, Sagdrina Jalal of the Georgia Farmer's Market Association, and Charles Moore of Emory's Urban Health Initiative. Hence, the symposium also explored how professionals from different disciplines and sectors view the concept of "community health" through the specific lenses of the communities--whether here in Atlanta or abroad-- with which they work.

Spring 2019 Liam's Legacy Symposium (Part 2): Community Health: Widen the Lens

The second panel of the Spring 2019 Liam's Legacy engaged global perspectives; and, along with the first panel, highlighted the connectedness of local and global community health challenges and innovations. Featured panelists included David Addiss of the Task Force for Global Health, Hope Bussenius of Emory's Urban Health Initiative, and Rihana Nesrudin of Oakhurst Medical Center. 

Spring 2020 Liam's Legacy Symposium: Facing Climate Change - Tools and Stories that Connect Communities

The Spring 2020 Liam's Legacy Symposium focused on community science, story telling, and our changing environment. Julia Drapkin joined us from  ISeeChange, a New-Orleans-based organization she founded to empower and connect communities across the country through climate-change-related data collection, along with Raina Turner, Executive Director of the Sustainable Community Solutions Network, LLC and organizer and leader of the annual Black Sustainability Summit. In addition to the presentations by Ms. Drapkin and Ms. Turner, the event featured a moderated discussion facilitated by GSU student Zeena Abdulkarim, a Political Science major who is passionate about intersectional activism, the protection of the planet and environmental justice, breaking down systems of oppression structured against minority communities, spreading awareness of these matters, and taking action through community organizing.

Environmental Justice

Race, Space, and Opportunity: A Tale of Two Regions

Partnership for Southern Equity presents their 2016 report, "Opportunity Deferred: Race, Transportation, and the Future of Metro Atlanta."  Access and read the full report HERE.

The Regenesis Project: Moving Spartanburg, SC from Surviving to Thriving (Harold Mitchell Presentation)

Rep. Harold Mitchell shares his experience being exposed to environmental contamination and bringing people together to work collaboratively to envision and implement broad solutions toward creating visible change.

Information Infrastructures for Environmental Justice: Guest Lecture by GT Alum Gwen Ottinger; Drexel University

Putting information in the hands of low-income and minority communities heavily burdened by environmental hazards has become a popular goal of grassroots, non-profit, and governmental initiatives alike. Theories of environmental justice suggest that to be truly empowering, information infrastructures must do more than provide data; they need to offer community groups resources for making meaning of the data, and facilitate use of the data in collective action. Existing, government-maintained platforms are limited in their ability to empower communities, but these limitations are being partially overcome by new platforms for data collection and reporting designed by researchers in collaboration with community groups. These participatory design projects both suggest how government data infrastructures should be redesigned to foster EJ, and reveal inherent challenges in making meaning of complex information that social justice advocates of all sorts will have to grapple with in the era of "big data".

What is Systemic Racism?

"What Is Systemic Racism?" is an 8-part video series that shows how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: Wealth Gap, Employment, Housing Discrimination, Government Surveillance, Incarceration, Drug Arrests, Immigration Arrests, Infant Mortality… yes, systemic racism is really a thing. 

Allegories on Race and Racism

Dr. Camara Jones shares four allegories on “race” and racism.

INSS 2017: Smart, Connected Communities

In June, 2017, Serve-Learn-Sustain hosted this satellite conference as part of the NSF-sponsored Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS), launched by UNC-Charlotte “to encourage a greater appreciation for social aspects of sustainability with a particular focus on engineering and its allied professions.” This annual, multi-site conference was brought together via webcast. The conference was  co-hosted with GT’s NSF REU Civic Data Science Program (Data Science for Social Good) and The Institute for People and Technology.

Conference Welcome (Jennifer Hirsch; Rafael Bras)

VIDEO: Keynote Listener Report: ACTION (Presentation by Djuan Coleon, Executive Director, PURE (Project Urban Renewable Energy)

Keynote Listener Reports (Djuan Coleon, Subhrajit Guhathakurta, Fatemeh Shafaiei)

Can Smart, Connected Communities Also Advance Equity?  (Presentation by Carl DiSalvo, Associate Professor, School or Literature, Media, and Communication; Cicely Garrett, Deputy Chief Resilience Officer, City of Atlanta Mayor's Office of Resilience; Jesse Woo, Research Associate, Privacy and Cybersecurity, Georgia Tech

As we plan, design, engineer, and build smart and connected communities, equity is often overlooked—displaced by our focus on technology. But if we do not address equity from the beginning, we run the risk of exacerbating existing conditions of injustice. This panel will explore diverse approaches to addressing equity in research, planning, and design for smart and connected communities, to spark conversation on strategies and tactics appropriate for both public sector and academic projects.

Atlanta: Whose Data Is It Anyway? Empowerment and Ownership of Community Research (Tabia Akintobi, Chris LeDantec, Kwabena Nkromo, Terry Ross, Jamie Wallace)

Neighborhoods and communities of all types are often the subject of data monitoring and research by organizations such as police departments, public health agencies, and universities. Too often citizens and residents are not either aware of the information that is being collected about their lives, or they don't adequately understand its implications and almost never are in control of the data that may impact their families and neighbors. Our panelists will discuss how Participatory Action Research, open systems data sharing, and quality community engagement can make a huge difference in whether a community is empowered or undermined by data.

Data for Imagination: Constructing Sustainable Futures (Bojana Ginn)

A collaborative installation using light and organic fiber, inspired by data from the Atlanta Regional Commission. Participants will have a hands-on experience translating data into a sculptural piece of ecologically-conscious art.

Data Driven Decision Making (Michael Carnathan)

Reflections on Data for Imagination: Constructing Sustainable Futures (Jennifer Hirsch, Bojana Ginn, Michael Carnathan)

Closing Session (Jennifer Hirsch, Michael Elliot)

INSS 2016: Paths to Social Sustainability: Building a Research, Teaching, and Action Agenda for the Southeast

GT Roundtable 1: Resilience and Social Sustainability

GT Roundtable 2: Food-Energy-Water Nexus and Social Sustainability

GT Closing Session: Identify Next Steps for Developing a Stronger, More Coordinated Social Sustainability Research, Teaching, and Action Agenda for the Southeast

Additional SLS Events

Climate Change: Engineering's Grand Challenge/Georgia Tech's Role

G. Wayne Clough, Georgia Tech's President Emeritus discusses climate change and Georgia Tech's role. Climate change has long been considered a “science problem,” and scientists are most closely associated with the issue in the mind of the public. When it comes to developing solutions, engineers have to get involved, but they are like the proverbial blind men describing an elephant – everybody understands only a small part of the problem. Because the true solutions to climate change are inherently interdisciplinary, we need engineers who are more broadly educated and able to communicate with the public.

What Does Sustainability Have to Do With Happiness?

Dr. Scott Cloutier shares his work developing the Sustainability through Happiness Framework and Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness™ (SNfH) project. He, his students, and team use a participatory, neighborhood-based research and development process in close collaboration with community partners.

The Atlanta Beltline: From Vision to Reality

Join Ryan Gravel of Sixpitch - whose GT master’s thesis launched the BeltLine; Odetta MacLeish- White of TransFormation Alliance; and Michael Bryan, Georgia Tech student and TransFormation Alliance intern for an engaging talk and conversation about the launch and evolution of the BeltLine and a call to action for students to engage with communities in advancing the BeltLine’s original vision of thriving, connected communities.

Advancing Education for Sustainable Development Through RCEs (2019 Atlanta Global Studies Symposium)

Through multi-sector collaboration and innovative problem-solving, United Nations University has invited regions around the world to form collaborations called Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development – “RCEs.” RCEs harness the power of education to advance the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Guest speaker Kim Smith, co-founder of RCE Greater Portland, presents foundations in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), illustrates priorities to achieve UNESCO’s Global Action Programme on ESD, and highlights ways that RCEs around the world are advancing ESD in their regions. This session opens with a brief introduction to RCE Greater Atlanta, one of seven RCEs in the U.S. and 171 in the world.

Successes and Challenges in Promoting a Sustainable Future: Regional and Global Perspectives from RCEs Around the World (2019 Atlanta Global Studies Symposium)

This session brings perspectives on sustainable development from RCE colleagues across the globe. From the U.S. Atlantic Coastline to Mexico to Hamburg, the participants will share their experiences promoting sustainable development through university-community partnerships focused on education, research, community development, economic revitalization and environmental restoration.

Bringing It Home: Lessons and Next Steps for Building Partnerships in RCE Greater Atlanta (2019 Atlanta Global Studies Symposium)

This facilitated, interactive session analyzes and synthesizes best practices in promoting RCE Greater Atlanta’s priority SDGs, gleaned from earlier sessions. Priority SDGs include: SDG1-No Poverty, SDG2-Zero Hunger, SDG3-Good Health and Well-Being, SDG4-Quality Education, SDG9-Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG11-Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG13-Climate Action. The goal here is to exchange ideas and facilitate collaborations among RCE Greater Atlanta members inside and outside higher education, as well as with our colleagues from regional and global RCEs. The session concludes by outlining concrete next steps for advancing the SDGs through education, research and action partnerships.

From Science to Journalism: A Webinar with Ensia

Want to reach a broader audience? Ensia is "a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet," housed at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. They have partnerships with over 50 leading global media outlets — including The Guardian, Scientific American, and more — that republish their content, as well as the Ensia Mentor Program for emerging journalists and scientists, which offers them an opportunity to build their communication skills and professional network by creating an article, video, image gallery, infographic or other work on a topic of their choice for Ensia under the guidance of an experienced communicator. 

Additional Videos

Sustainable community development: from what's wrong to what's strong

Cormac Russell at TEDxExeter introduces Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and its benefits. He explains ways in which traditional approaches to helping others can actually harm by undermining community leadership and engagement and feeding disempowerment. In contrast, staring from assets—what is strong—in a community can support the development of partnerships and networks that strengthen community-based leadership and build capacity.

Service Learning and Community Engagement (SLCE) Orientation for Students

Ruthie Yow presents the SLS SLCE Orientation workshop for students, that SLS offers each Fall semester.

Georgia Tech's 2019 Sustainability Showcase

At the Showcase, about 150 academic and research faculty shared their work in sustainability research and education. Talks are in a fast-paced lightning format covering topics that span the engineering, natural science, social science, business, planning, design, and computing disciplines. From buildings to transportation, finance to logistics, climate to energy, cities to farms, manufacturers to workers, and profit to equity – find out what is going on right now at one of the world’s preeminent research and teaching universities.  The Sustainability Showcase took place over three full-days, subdivided into six half-day sessions.