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Webinar: Sustainability Data Activism and Experiential Learning through USC’s Sustainability Data Hub

March 12, 2025 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

In this webinar, we highlight the University of Southern California’s (USC’s) Sustainability Data Hub as a tool for sustainability data activism and experiential learning. USC’s Sustainability Data Hub was built with crucial input from USC undergraduates engaging in experiential learning with faculty and staff of the Spatial Sciences Institute and the Office of Sustainability, and currently enables cross-campus collaborations to achieve joint well-being, inclusion and equity and sustainability goals. This tool provides access to sustainability-related data for the USC community to be used for individual and classroom based experiential learning. Additionally, this tool provides a way to collect and showcase data that leads to sustainability progress on USC campus (sustainability data activism).

We discuss three case studies by which we enabled student engagement in planning and executing campus-wide projects, cross-campus collaboration, and data collection to further progress across well-being, inclusion and sustainability goals: 1) mapping indoor and outdoor hydration stations accompanied by spatial analysis to highlight current hydration stations in a public and easy-to use map, as well as to identify where more bottle refill stations would benefit the USC and local community, 2) mapping waste, compost and recycling bins in combination with logging waste data in each bin to determine waste diversion and contamination rates to determine what the largest sources of landfill waste and cross-bin contamination are on campus, 3) our newest project focused on mapping lactation rooms and detailing the accessibility and contents of each room to help lactating mothers in their return to work at USC.

We highlight some of the challenges from both the student perspective and the faculty/staff perspective, as well as the achievements in each of these case studies. We also emphasize the power of collaboration and communication with campus partners and community-based Volunteer Geographic Information (VGI). During the course of our discussion, we will provide a live tour of the Sustainability Data Hub and will open up the webinar for questions and participant insights.

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Julie Hopper, Sustainability Data Analyst, University of Southern California

Dr. Julie Hopper (She/Her) leads data collection, analysis and reporting for research and administrative projects at USC to support campus sustainability on all fronts. Julie also recently led efforts in the completion of USC’s 2024 STARS Gold Report and the creation and implementation of several sustainability data dashboards at USC. Julie brings over 10 years of experience in data analysis and visualization, project management, experiential learning, and scientific communication. Prior to this position, Julie conducted research and taught undergraduate courses in Environmental Studies and Ecology at USC. Julie holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation and postdoctoral research focused on sustainable management of invasive pests and weeds via biological control. Julie is passionate about environmental sustainability, with more recent research projects focused on the processes leading to marine plastic pollution and relevant solutions.

Dr. Laura Loyola, Assistant Professor (Teaching), University of Southern California

Dr. Laura Loyola (She/Her) is an Assistant Professor (Teaching) for USC Dornsife’s Spatial Sciences Institute, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses with a focus on mapping environmental justice, cartography for empowering social change, and human security as related to hazards and disaster events. Over the last few years, Dr. Loyola has developed a range of research projects with undergraduate students from applied international geodesign interventions for local and regional challenges to habitat partitioning by tortoise species, and an accessibility audit of the UPC campus. One group of her most recent undergraduate research associates has been working on cross-campus collaborations to further develop the USC sustainability data hub in collaboration with the USC Office of Sustainability, while another is working on spatializing data related to forest resource use and the importance of place names from data from participatory mapping sessions in Kenya. She actively promotes the advancement of women and historically underrepresented groups in the sciences through her memberships in multiple professional organizations and mentoring.

Krissie Essilfie, Sustainability Data Hub Intern, USC undergraduate student, University of Southern California

Krissie Essilfie (She/Her) is an undergraduate student at USC studying Geodesign, with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Music Production. She has experience in GIS through various classes and projects, with a particular focus on spatial data wrangling and visualization. Currently, Krissie is working as a research assistant to Dr. Laura Loyola by helping build and update the USC Sustainability Data Hub. She is especially interested in the role of spatial data in urban design, planning, and advocacy, and hopes to explore how the collection and presentation of data can help increase community involvement in the urban planning and design process.

Andrew Bawiec, Sustainability Data Hub Intern, USC undergraduate student, University of Southern California

Andrew Bawiec (They/He) is a current senior majoring in Environmental Studies with minors in GIS & Sustainability Science and Theatre. They are involved in various environmental groups on campus, notably in his role as co-president of the SC Garden Club and as the Director of Community Outreach for the Environmental Student Assembly. Andrew’s academic focus centers the ways in which data can tell stories and the use of spatial analysis in pursuit of environmental justice.

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