Geography Program - News

From Johannesburg to Plattsburgh: The Fight for Environmental Justice

Johannesburg, South Africa, is 7,997 miles from Plattsburgh, New York, as the proverbial crow flies. But thanks to an extraordinary class project, Plattsburgh State geography students are feeling a close connection to that far-away city, the 2002 host of the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Dr. Bryan Higgins Shares "Global Planning Principles"

It all has to do with environmental justice, and it begins with students enrolled last spring in Dr. Bryan Higgins' Global Planning Principles class.

The students participated in an extraordinary project that gave them an opportunity to think and act as international leaders as they discovered and addressed real environmental issues in Plattsburgh's Adirondack-Champlain home.

"Since Plattsburgh State is located in the heart of the Champlain-Adirondack region, we wanted to increase awareness and discussion of the needs for sustainable development in this world-class region," said Higgins.

Higgins' students formed teams and developed innovative plans for sustainable development in the region. They then submitted projects to the "My Community our Earth Program," where all received awards in preparation for the current Earth Summit.

Photo of Bryan Seidenspinner, Geography major at Plattsburgh StateStudents Learn to See the World In New Ways

Bryan Seidenspinner, a junior majoring in Geography, found that Dr. Higgins' class opened his eyes to a new world of possibilities.

"I was a business major before took Global Planning Principles. It helped me to appreciate the complexity and interrelatedness of the world, and I am excited by the broad range of professional opportunities and room for academic growth."

A distinctive feature of the Plattsburgh student proposals was their focus on environmental ethics and the need for community participation in design and implementation of sustainable development projects. This environmental justice theme is one of the new educational strategies Dr. Higgins has developed with his fellowship in Plattsburgh's Ethics Institute.

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Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about geography at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Dr. Robert Fuller, Chairperson
Office: Ward Hall 239
Phone: (518) 564-2028
Fax: (518) 564-5267