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Sustaining Research

New grant program encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches

Sustainability is often thought of as a science-based practice, which is why the Bridgewater State University Sustainability Program has launched a new grant for undergraduate research that encourages students from all disciplines to get involved.

“Our main goal with this grant is to further increase collaboration, that way we can have a greater impact on our community,” said associate professor of management and sustainability program Coordinator Xiangrong Liu.

The Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research Grant supports undergraduate research on sustainability through collaboration among an interdisciplinary team consisting of students and faculty that takes place over the spring or summer. Students are invited to develop their own ideas and find solutions to different challenges presented by faculty mentors.

This past summer, California Muratore, ’24, who is majoring in cultural anthropology with a minor in sustainability, worked with anthropology Professor Navid Fozi and geography Professors James Hayes-Bohanan and Boah Kim on a project titled, “The Implications and Impression of Recycling in Massachusetts; How Local History and Observation can Increase Suitability.”

The Taunton native said she’s always wanted to better understand recycling practices, particularly because of a landfill that sits in the middle of her hometown.

“I’ve always been interested in helping my local can’t think globally unless you understand locally,” California said.

As part of the research project, the group performed both interpersonal interviews and archival research.

“We looked at waste management within Massachusetts to learn what we are doing wrong and what we can do in order to make improvements,” she said.

Through the project, some interesting solutions were uncovered, such as a possible increase in the amount of money one receives when depositing bottles and cans, thus encouraging more people to bring back their empty recyclables.

The group also learned that companies like Trex use recycled materials to create composite decking, railings, and other outdoor items. The company has bins located in area grocery stores where shoppers can bring recyclables like plastic bags, water bottle casings and more.

“The more people who know about this, the better we can recycle,” California said.

Dr. Fozi was impressed with California’s work ethic and desire to make more people aware of recycling practices.

“She was the engine behind the project,” Fozi said, adding that the BSU sustainability program’s ability to offer the new sustainability research grants is a great way to get people more engaged.

“I am very appreciative of the sustainability program, they are doing a good job when it comes to education,” he said. “It’s extremely important for our students to engage in their local environment. They are the next generation and helping them develop habits of caring for the environment is part of that.”

Liu said she hopes more faculty and students will take advantage of the grant program.

“We are putting out the call for everyone to get involved,” she said.

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