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Global Sustainability

March 23, 2020

Lasell University Honors Program students are tasked with creating self-designed research projects called Honors Components. These Honors Components amplify coursework by examining topics on a global spectrum. Students Hannah Bowerman '20 and Christina Tomasik '20 both immediately gravitated toward sustainability as their research focus for their most recent Honors components.

Bowerman, a Fashion Design and Production major, explored the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Earth. In a Lasell printmaking class, she turned those teachings into a colored linocut inspired by a panel she attended at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

Linocut image by Hannah Bowerman '20 [We have forgotten how to listen to the land]
Bowerman's linocut image

"I met three women working in the sciences -- Ranalda Tsosie, an enrolled member of the Diné Nation; Ciarra Greene, a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe; and Grace Bulltail of the Crow Tribe -- who all incorporate Indigenous research methods, culture, and traditions into their work," says Bowerman.

The women shared stories of struggle centered on the juxtaposition of Indigenous values around the environment and sustainability against the technology-first thinking of the broader scientific community. There are so many Indigenous principles that could guide behavioral solutions, she notes, and those are often frowned upon as too simple.

"They live by the rule of looking forward to future generations. Indigenous Peoples have been taught environmental management science for thousands of years. Purely technological solutions are overcomplicating things," she says.

The linocut utilizes a quote from Tsosie: "We have forgotten how to listen to the land.""I wanted to turn it into something that could remind people of how important it is to give back to the Earth," says Bowerman.

Tomasik, an early childhood education major, looked at sustainability within international tourism -- more specifically, on university-sponsored travel programs. Tomasik herself went on a Lasell Shoulder to Shoulder program in Antigua and Barbuda, and then traveled abroad to South Africa for a semester.

Christina Tomasik '20"What heated me was the idea of voluntourism. The idea was popular in the 1990s to help boost these countries' economies, but it just created an air of exploited tourism that paraded tourists around under the guise that more jobs would be created for locals," she says.

Her research revealed that the most ethical and sustainable programs were those that had shared goals between visitors and hosts.

"You can't just have a self-serving project that lacks a deeper, ongoing relationship with the community," says Tomasik. For example, she cites the idea of building a well for a local community and then leaving, versus teaching locals how to use the well to improve water conservation.

Her research built on a list of 10 themes for sustainable and ethical service learning programs developed by Madeline Hawthorne. Tomasik's project will have a lasting impact on the future of service learning courses and travel at Lasell, thanks to the guide she has created around each theme. More than 100 criteria lists, academic resources, actionable objectives, reflection questions, presentations, and reference documents are now available to Lasell faculty and students who wish to engage with international populations in a mutually beneficial way.

"Good intentions aren't good enough," she says. "You have to follow through with accountable action."

Photo by Jonathan Aponovich '22