Last spring, nine participants in the Eisenhower Institute’s Environmental Leadership program traveled to South Palm Beach, Florida, to apply social science research to issues of environmental justice. Dr. Howard Ernst, a non-resident expert at the Eisenhower Institute, leads the year-long program that gives Gettysburg College students a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of environmental ethics, economics, and policy.
Through their collective efforts, the group collected data that illustrated how parking limitations in Palm Beach County significantly reduce beach usage and disproportionately affect people of color.
Their research, designed in collaboration with Dr. Ernst, became the foundation for an article he published in the January 2021 issue of Environmental Justice, titled “Parking Access, Beach Usage, and Race: A Study of the Relationship Between Parking Access and Racial Inequality at Public Beaches in Palm Beach County, Florida.” Nick Silvis ’22, one of the student researchers, felt “humbled by the opportunity, both to be published and the ability to perform original research as part of a team as an undergraduate student.”
As one of Eisenhower Institute’s undergraduate programs, Environmental Leadership engages students through experiential learning to prepare them to apply their Gettysburg College education to real-life challenges.
Chris Trilleras ’21, a senior Environmental Studies major, said he was grateful for the experience. “I have learned so much from the program and it has reshaped my perspective.” Micaylah Bowers ’22 added that their research makes her feel as though she is making an actual impact in a community. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of a team that helped bring attention to issues like these that normally get overlooked.”
The following students were credited as researchers for this project: Micaylah Bowers ’23, Alexandros Economou-Garcia ’22, Nick Silvis ’22, Kevin Ganjon ’22, Connor Heath ’23, Erin Boyle ’21, Chris Trilleras ’21, Corinna Kelly ’23, and Susan Ramirez ’23. The Eisenhower Institute also extends a thank you to Dr. Ernst for his work on the publication and for the experiential opportunities he provides to Gettysburg College students.
Environmental Leadership provides a small group of Gettysburg College students with a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of key factors behind environmental policy conflicts.