UIC students are working on plans to create a sustainable space in the Behavioral Sciences Building.
During the fall semester, first-year students in Justin Wier’s Experience UIC LAS 110 course were awarded funding from UIC Sustainability Fee for their proposal to transform the Behavioral Science Building’s outdoor patio into a sustainable space that students could enjoy — and they’re looking for help to raise the rest.
“After my students finished their research, the class developed plans and suggestions to revitalize and create a green, sustainable community space outside of BSB — as it is one of the most well-used academic buildings,” said Wier, director of recruitment and engagement for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We would like to create a green community space where students can enjoy life on campus, study and meet friends to relax in between classes.”
Wier and his students proposed the installation of permeable pavers to assist with stormwater management and meet UIC’s Net Zero Water Campus Commitments. Currently, the space — dubbed a “hidden oasis” by Wier — easily floods, which makes it difficult for students to utilize. The implementation of permeable pavers will reduce flooding and guide rainwater back into the ground, instead of going into the city sewer system, Wier eplained.
Funds from the award also have been allotted to incorporate improved seating, which will encourage students to immerse themselves in the green space. In addition, students proposed that the space could include educational programs, such as a student-built “Little Free Library” to exchange books. There also is room for lawn games and a checkers board made of reclaimed building materials. Educational signage will be placed in the area to teach people about the sustainable aspects of the space.
Wier’s LAS 110 students already began a small planting project of native and pollinator plants during Fall 2018, and Wier hopes that future students can follow in their steps.
Those who wish to help support the project can donate through Flames Funded crowdfunding. The group hopes to raise $2,000 for the project.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will offer 60 class sections of LAS 110 during the Fall 2019 semester, where 1,500 first-year students will have the opportunity to participate in similarly engaging and impactful projects.
“Our LAS 110 first-year seminar supports our students with their transition to UIC, connects students to campus, helps first-year students to develop a sense of belonging, and allows our students to explore the campus and city,” Wier said.