Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Interesting, huh? I'd say so....

This just in from Parkie Calvin Smith, who worked with Professor Barbara Morgenstern (TVR) on a grant proposal that won him the first Office of International Programs Global Footprint Grant for his work in Spain this spring:

This grant, started in January of 2007, is made possible through Ithaca College’s Office of International Programs in affiliation with The Sustainability Initiative at Ithaca College.

It is designed to address the issue of sustainability in relation to study abroad.
...So far, I have designed and administered a survey written in both English and Spanish which students and professors alike have filled out. I plan on extrapolating the responses from these surveys to the greater Universitat de Barcelona community, and comparing the common transportation methods used there to those commonly used at Ithaca College. I hope that my research efforts may positively affect the Ithaca College community as a whole.

Basically, what I am trying to figure out is why the people in Barcelona tend to use
mass transit methods much more than everyone at IC…and, to some extent, so far
I think that it is likely due to the systems that are already in place, and different individual’s upbringings and culture. While I haven’t conducted in-depth interviews to figure out why exactly people choose mass transit (or walking or biking, etc…) in Barcelona, I did ask questions to probe these kinds of answers in the surveys that I administered.

Overwhelmingly, the responses are that they use these things because they are cheap and/or convenient…not exactly groundbreaking stuff, granted, but it hints that if the systems were in place at IC, and commonly used…gradual change may ensue. We have to change people’s mental models and transportation traditions to truly change their transportation methods and habits.

When it comes to culture and sustainability, there is absolutely a difference. Barcelona, Spain, and Europe in general are generally far ahead of the U.S. with respect to environmental issues. This is evident in numerous ways here in BCN…in fact, many politicians run on the platform of sustainability in Spain. While our presidential candidates use scapegoat topics like abortion and gay marriage, Spain’s address issues of sustainability. Interesting, huh?


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