Featured Projects

Featured Symposium Projects

The Crossroads Symposium brought together performers, IU experts, and Bloomington community members to share and create innovative projects inspiring sustainable behavior change.  Attendees submitted proposals prior to the Symposium; four innovative projects were selected for the workshop portion of the day.  Together with experts spanning diverse disciplines, Symposium participants workshopped projects and identified opportunities for collaboration, resources needed, and next steps. Below, you'll find this information and more- including full project descriptions and project lead contact information.

The IU Heritage Trail will act as the scaffolding for a larger initiative to connect existing trails on IUB’s main campus with trails in the IU Research and Teaching Preserve and Griffy Lake Nature Preserve.  In this way, the IU Heritage Trail project will serve as a meaningful mode of connection between IU and the City of Bloomington.

The only new paths to be constructed will be north of 10th street. Areas that are not environmentally sensitive and are desired to be used for new trails will be cleared by Hoosier Conservation Corps. This project will allow for interdisciplinary learning opportunities including service learning, enhanced environmental literacy, understanding of reusable sustainability actions and leadership development. Additionally, it will provide a space for events and recreation.

Collaboration:  School of Public Health, (including students and faculty focused on parks, conservation, and natural resources), Fine Arts (student and faculty, contributing works that will "interpret" trail history and features- could be identified/informed by student research), Campus Landscape services, and IU Outdoor Adventures.  This project has also inspired IU Southeast to look into a similar project as part of IU's Bicentennial- this adds an additional potential collaboration with statewide IU campuses. 

Resources needed: Approval from critical stakeholders, point people/project managers, funding.

Project Lead Contact Information:

The Anthropocene Household Project explores the Anthropocene at the local level by focusing on the household as a way to understand the lived experiences, knowledges, and practices associated with environmental change. In its first phase, the project focuses on Indianapolis households–specifically consumption of and knowledge about water in four neighborhoods in Indianapolis: Riverside/Crown Hill, Christian Park, Irvington, and Sunshine Gardens. The Anthropocene Household works with residents, community organizations, neighborhood groups, schools etc. to collect water samples from households throughout the study area. These water samples are then tested for a number of pollutants, including heavy metals, arsenic, atrazine, and more.

Using the findings, the researchers will create a GIS-based, open access data set that provides a comprehensive understanding of water quality in Indianapolis. Those households who participate in data collection will each receive a report of the testing done at their residences. Data on water quality will be supplemented with a mixed methods approach (including surveys, focus groups, interviews, and oral history) in order to capture and better understand local narratives about water specifically, and the environment more generally.

Data collection will be supplemented by educational programming, as well as community-based art projects, focused on understanding environmental histories and legacies in each neighborhood and expanding knowledge about the environment. The project team will also work with residents to develop workshops and an exhibition around issues of water, sustainability, and environmental change in their neighborhoods.

Collaboration: Like-minded individuals in the industry, teacher and librarian networks, and cross-disciplinary organizations and individuals.

Resources needed: Funding, expertise (design, communications, marketing), access (introductions and relationships), and investment (endorsement and time).

Links to webpages:


Project Lead Contact Information:

The goal of this project is to build and present a live stage performance whose aim is to suggest ways forward in reshaping the food and farming systems of the Indiana Uplands, in part by rediscovering their past. The show will integrate multiple media: archival film, new interpretations of old-time music and traditional social dancing, and it will translate some findings from IU’s research into sustainable food systems. Providing a visual will be archival color film footage of Indiana’s food farms, identified from IU’s collections and via public “roundups” with county library systems, history centers, and families. Dancers and musicians will re-interpret selections from Indiana’s old-time music about farming and food, also sourced from IU’s collections and building upon the presentation of related content at the 2018 Early Music Festival. Lastly, the performance will incorporate the findings of IU research to review how county-level policies nationwide are incentivizing places to rebuild regional agri-food capacity. Researchers will work with Indiana University’s “Voices From Home” to capture conversations between present-day Hoosiers to reflect on Indiana’s food, healthy meals, and farming traditions. We expect to tour the show to county fairs and state parks, and to broadcast a recorded version on WTIU and online.

Seeing and hearing this evidence will invite community members to imagine what is possible for the future, and help to define next steps forward in the effort to rebuild Indiana’s regional food and farm systems. Project goals include spurring a movement to adopt policies within Indiana’s counties and localities that support local food production, processing, and sourcing, as well as a greater diversity of landscapes, agricultural products, and farmers.

Collaboration: IU Sustainable Food Systems Science, IU archival collections, Center for Rural Engagement, IU Platform, performance artists, history centers, public library systems, county extension, fairs, and 4-H and Indiana State Parks.

Resources needed: Coordination among IU research, archive, and performance resources; and funds for personnel time (production, research, coordination, and art).

Project Lead Contact Information:

This series of sci-fi novels, for age 10 & up, follows the adventures of a family of ecologists.  In the first book, Mission to Green Tara (2015), two teens harvest phytoplankton from a healthy ocean on a planetary wildlife preserve, and reseed a desolate ocean on a once-thriving biosphere.  In the second book, Mission to Blue Grannus (coming soon) the same heroes, Virginia and Gordy, help with myco-remediation efforts for a toxic mining colony.  

The series author, K. H. Brower, has made many classroom visits (grades 4-8) to read scenes and discuss Green Tara.  In 2017 she partnered with a 6th-grade literature teacher in Mooresville, IN, to develop a 4-week curriculum:  Scientific Inspiration, Sociology, Literature, and Reflection & Action Steps.  The teacher, Lisa Maydwell, read Green Tara with the students daily, and Brower visited the class weekly to discuss key topics, such as understanding critical species that provide the foundation for entire ecosystems, what motivates a character to become an eco-warrior,  and a reflection about what motivates societies to protect or assault ecosystems.  She is looking to expand this model into a program reaching K-12 students, including hands-on science and research activities (e.g. collecting and monitoring water quality). 

Brower’s overarching goal, in addition to offering excellent fiction in a fun read, is to invite readers to fall in love with nature and science along with the series’ main characters, as they explore new biospheres.  By following the action steps and systems-thinking of her series’ ecology-trained characters, Brower reveals methods to restore and repair damaged ecosystems.

Collaboration: Starting in November of last year Brower has been volunteering for the WFHB radio program “EcoReport,” as a program editor and occasional co-host.  Most relevant is her new series “The Secret Life of Fungi” which airs 1-2 times per month and is inspired by Brower’s research into the fungi kingdom as she developed the fiction story of Blue Grannus.  To hear her 3-1/2-4 minute nonfiction segments, visit the WFHB website here.

Resources needed: Source of funding which recognizes the value of fiction in educational programing with the goal to engage students with interdisciplinary subjects—literature, biology, sociology—that converge at the nexus of ecology:  restoring, protecting, and celebrating vibrant and just ecosystems.  Funding could come in the form of grants and/or in-kind support for appropriate marketing or distribution channels. 

Project Lead Contact Info: