A forum for exchanging ideas

This blog has three functions: (1) a repository of ideas, findings, reflections, readings, and observations from a faculty travelling seminar on sustainability in 2011, and (2) a space for continuing exchange of ideas about how we can carry forward lessons from that tour into our classrooms, our colleges, and our communities, and (3) a place to post links to the many amazing developments that are in the news. The purpose of this space is to help sustain an ongoing seminar-like exchange that can capture and build on ideas from our original seminar.

Updates to this blog will be irregular and occasional, but it can provide a resource for colleges and classes
and other groups that share our enthusiasms, concerns, and common challenges.

Our initial sustainability seminar was funded by the Mellon Foundation,
whose support has been critical to initiatives in faculty development and intellectual exchange.

Transportation and Sustainability

Transportation and Sustainability: The Limits of Possibility 
Experiential Learning in Denmark and Germany  

M. S. Costanza-Robinson, Program for Environmental Studies, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT
Tod Frolking, Environmental Studies Program, Denison University, Granville, OH
Suresh Muthukrishnan, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC

For the full report, click this link

 Group Report Summary 
This report summarizes our experiences and learning from our travel seminar in Denmark and Germany in May-June, 2011.  Given the uniqueness of the three cities visited, this report is divided into three sections, one section for each city – Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark and Freiburg, Germany.  Each part emphasizes the following topics at various depths.
1.   Transportation related observations
2.   Sustainability initiatives with respect to transportation
3.   Bicycling – safety, innovation, integration, and road network expansion
4.   Green spaces and transportation
5.   Urban renewal projects and their impacts on commuting choices
6.   Policy initiatives and local government initiatives
7.   Future plans

Overall, we found that a strong public participation and a supportive government structure are essential to the success of sustainable transportation solution development.  Each of the cities we visited has unique geographic context with strengths and weaknesses, but they set their goals based on a long-term vision and a desire to improve the quality of life for their citizens.  Bicycling is one of the core areas where all three of these cities have invested a lot of resources to provide a safe, sound, and convenient travel experience for the commuters, as well as leisure travelers. Properly marked cycle lanes with separate bicycle traffic signal system, training and educational programs for cyclists, availability of rental cycles (free or paid) for visitors are some of the highlights.  All three cities have green cycling pathways and are working toward establishing a network of “bicycle superhighways” that would provide people living in the fringes of the cities with quick and easy access to city center amenities.  Government spending and investment in rail or tram network development and improvement have tremendously increased since the beginning of this century.  Cities are finding ways to address problems related to traffic congestion, air pollution, and carbon emission through innovative rules aimed at making it more expensive and difficult to own and drive cars to commute, while at the same time working to make it real easy to use bicycle or train or bus.