Environmental Studies Senior Integrated Projects

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This collection includes Senior Integrated Projects (SIPs, formerly known as Senior Individualized Projects) completed in the Environmental Studies Concentration. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff. If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email us at dspace@kzoo.edu to request access to a SIP.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 15
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    The Manifestation of Neoliberalism Through Ecotourism : Tortuguero and Cahuita, Costa Rica as Case Studies
    (Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College., 2024-01-01) Coleman, Gabriel; Mowry, Robert
    A subcategory of tourism, ecotourism is meant to be a community-driven method of tourism that promotes environmentally responsible activities for tourists to participate in. Since its introduction in the 1980s, its definition has been argued amongst many scholars. In addition to this, it has been a means of bolstering the economy of many less economically developed countries (LEDCs), whose natural environment is a top destination for foreign tourists. Although this may be a good opportunity for locals to invest, it may also present the issue of foreign companies profiting off the land, while natives receive little to no benefit. Of the countries that rely on ecotourism to generate wealth for their economy, Costa Rica is one of most-well known. Hundreds of tourists travel to Costa Rica every day to experience their national parks. The purpose of this investigation is to examine first-hand its citizen's relationship with ecotourism, and to determine to what extent they practice it sustainably. This investigation was completed by traveling to and observing the social and natural landscape of Tortuguero and Cahuita, two places where tourist traffic is heavy every day. Methods for collecting data include conducting formal and informal interviews with locals regarding how they feel about the ecotourism industry in Costa Rica, and taking notes based on my observations. As mentioned, this study examines how ecotourism is practiced and to what extent it is practiced sustainably. Based on my findings, both places practice ecotourism sustainability to a substantial extent, although they both have room for improvement. Tortuguero specializes more in promoting a healthy ecosystem for its natural environment through policies and activities. On the other hand, Cahuita has better infrastructure for its people, which enables them to promote their cultural heritage and promote livelihood generation.
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    Community Gardeners : A Series Inspired by Natural Communities at Delano Farm
    (Kalamazoo College, 2023-11-01) Kuch, Celia A.; Clemente, Kirsten; Armstrong, Mariah; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    During the summer of 2023, I was given the opportunity to intern at Delano Farm, a regenerative agriculture CSA in Kalamazoo Michigan owned by the Kalamazoo Nature Center. The farm is named after the Delano family who once owned the property. The house where the Delano family lived is on the property and maintained by the Nature Center. Delano Farm serves as a community supported agriculture (CSA) enterprise during the summer and fall. This means that local shareholders buy into the farm at the beginning of the growing season. Throughout the season, as crops become available, shareholders come to collect and harvest the produce. In the summer season of 2023, Delano Farm served 84 families with their CSA. During my time at the farm, the CSA members and their families came weekly to collect what we had grown. Many of these CSA members brought their children with them to the farm. The farm provides these families with opportunities to educate their children about where their food comes from, which encourages them to eat, not just more, but a larger variety of vegetables. As farm director Kirsten Clemente likes to say, “The farm grows everything from A to Z, from asparagus to zucchini.” Furthermore, the farm also maintains a flower and herb garden so that CSA members are able to take home fresh flowers each week. The CSA system is the building blocks for which Delano has created a large community of people. From members, employees, volunteers, and interns like myself the farm serves as a site for community engagement. My Senior Integrated Project highlights these community members in a series of paintings. Six paintings – each showing different interactions within a large and diverse community – provide a window into my summer and the creatures with whom I had the pleasure of spending it. These paintings demonstrate the overlap of the ecological community at Delano and the community of people who benefit from the relationships. They are portraits of one large community of cooperators, consumers, producers, parasites, and students. Understanding this farm as a complex community caused me to understand my relationship to nature in a different way. At the farm I was directly participating in an ecological community. I was not just interacting with nature: I was a part of it. My project aims to display humans as equal participants and members of ecological communities. I accomplish this through a series of paintings that show humans interacting with nature in a position of partnership, not domination. The subjects of my paintings are the ecological communities that I found and participated in at Delano farm. By displaying humans within the context of natural environments, my paintings act as a statement acknowledging humans as nature and emphasizing the importance of strengthening and acknowledging the inherent bond we share with the natural communities around us. Art can demonstrate ideas and values through evoking emotion. But more importantly painting is something that I love to do, and I see no better way for me to share my thoughts and love for Delano communities
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    Becoming a Sustainable City : A Critique of the City of Kalamazoo
    (Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College., 2023-03-01) Crossman, Lauren; Boyer Lewis, Charlene M., 1965-
    We are all responsible to do our part in creating a better world for future generations. This is part of the reason I decided to do an internship working one-on-one with businesses in the downtown Kalamazoo area to help them create sustainability goals. That is also the reason I am writing this evaluation of Kalamazoo's sustainability practices and plans. Ultimately, the United States as a whole and cities like Kalamazoo are behind in addressing the climate crisis at the city-level compared to cities both in the United States and nations abroad. But why? What has stood in the way of protecting our only planet? That is what I will seek to answer here. Since June of 2022, I have worked with 22 business owners, presented to the Environmental Concerns Committee for the City of Kalamazoo, met with people in the City to answer my questions, and reviewed many of the City's plans, programs, initiatives, as well as researched what other cities in both the United States and abroad are doing. For this paper, I will be defining a "sustainable city" as a place that prioritizes the environment through plans and actions, where government officials and citizens work together with a common purpose. Different cities are practicing different elements of sustainability, such as green spaces, public transportation systems, clean air, renewable energy, solar panels, low greenhouse gas emissions, or ecotourism. Sustainability is not one-size-fits-all for nations, states, cities, or individuals. But the most important aspect of a sustainable city is action and whether the actions are meaningful enough to ensure quality of living for all residents (human and non-human) and limit the impacts from the city that would harm the common good of humanity. Many cities have plans to become sustainable, but a city has to be able to enact plans and work with its citizens collaboratively to become a sustainable city. The City of Kalamazoo has the Community Sustainability Plan (CSP) to become a sustainable city, going forward the City will need to enact the plan and work collaboratively with citizens. During my internship, I heard many excuses as to why a business could not commit to a sustainable goal. Similar excuses were also present throughout the CSP. I broke these excuses into four categories: time, money, authority, and priorities. These categorizations will be closely examined throughout this paper, but they generally catch the numerous reasons why a goal could not be met or an action is not attainable. By examining these categories more in-depth, we can begin to understand the reasons why Kalamazoo is behind in sustainability. Having an understanding of the answers to this question allows us to address those concerns so that Kalamazoo can become a truly sustainable city. The City of Kalamazoo is trying to become a more sustainable city but is falling short as a result of bureaucratic processes at the local, state, and national levels. Shortcomings of the Community Sustainability Plan reflect the City's challenges. Comparisons to other similar-sized cities in the United States and abroad make clear the lessons Kalamazoo can learn and how far the City needs to go to become a truly sustainable city.
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    Now that I am Wiser…I Know the Earth Loves Me Back Love Letters to Persons from Environmental Anthropologists
    (Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College., 2023-03-01) Kirchgessner, Bella; Newday, Amy
    In Thich Nhat Hanh's “Ten Love Letters to the Earth”, he paints an intimate portrayal of the power of Mother Earth and the deep and intimate connection he sees between humans and the natural world. Using his model and the Eco philosophies of scholars like Vandana Shiva, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Adrienne Maree Brown, Sinith Sittirak, Winona LaDuke, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and many more I seek to write my own love letters to the Earth and the people have taught me how to love it. In the 2021/2022 school year, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I met Otome Klein-Hutheesing and Mimi Saeju. During the month I spent interning and working with them at the Lisu Cultural Heritage Center, I learned about what it means to use environmental anthropology as an embodied act of love. In this essay, I have included three love letters, one to Otome, one to Mimi, and one to myself. Through these letters, I hope to express the power of respect, intentionality, and reciprocity in our relationships with the Earth, ourselves, and each other.
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    Propagation of Native Freshwater Mussels for the Continuation of Provided Ecosystem Services
    (Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College., 2021-04-01) Stanger, Kali; Girdler, Erin Binney, 1969-
    Benefits humans derive from the environment, known as ecosystem services, come in a variety of forms, provided by a variety of organisms. Native freshwater mussels, of the order Unionida, provide many ecosystem services, from nutrient cycling to acting as habitat builders, to the freshwater aquatic systems across the Great Lakes region and the broader United States. Invasion of native habitats by exotic freshwater bivalves, combined with sensitivity to changes in water parameters and water chemistry brought on by pollution and impoundment, the Unionidae family is recognized as one of the most imperiled faunal groups globally, with many species extinct and on the verge of extinction. While conservation of native freshwater mussels has risen in importance over the years, these efforts are complicated by their unusual life cycle, which includes a parasitic larval stage. With the advancement of propagation techniques combined with an increase in known hosts for the parasitic stage, propagation is viable for more native freshwater mussel species. Improvements to in vivo and in vitro propagation of native freshwater mussels provide a method of ensuring the survival of these species, thereby ensuring the survival of the ecosystem services they provide.
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