Place Studies

Imagine ~ Sustain ~ Understand ~ Engage

Category: Student Projects (page 1 of 2)

Place Studies Summer Projects: Pilot Study for Envision the Susquehanna

Why is conservation of the Susquehanna River imperative to inhabitants of the river counties along the rivershed? What are the cultural, social, environmental, and economics assets that the river provides?

Buck Doyle explores and answers these questions in his Pilot Study for Envision the Susquehanna, research that was requested by the Chesapeake Conservancy.

In order to generate qualitative data necessary for his research, interviews of land and water conservation officials were carried out. The data obtained from these interviews will be used for the development of a survey that will transpire the fall of 2014, specifically a phone survey that will be allocated throughout the river counties. The results from this survey will expose widespread concerns and perspectives about the watershed, getting a diverse collection of voices from the community.

Buck hopes that this survey will thoroughly capture the opinions and voices of the community, and that his report will encourage and inspire more conservation work in the Susquehanna, by revealing the significance that it has in many peoples lives.

Read the report Buck contributed to here: Pilot Study of Conservation Attitudes

Place Studies Summer Projects: SRVCdata.org

Sam Jacobson and Yash Bhutwala created SRVCdata.org as a resource for social organizations to measure how well their programs are addressing issues in the central Susquehanna Valley. Their website includes data resources such as reports dealing with health, security, demographics, economic growth, and much more. The website also provides a trendalyzer, a visualization software that creates an animation of a plot of two different variables and then tracks them over time. Individuals can also use the website to learn more about the five counties of the Central Susquehanna Valley through the qualitative data and reports they provide.

The website allows sufficiency when trying to locate primary data relating to these counties. For although the primary data they have collected exists throughout the web, it takes much time and effort to uncover. The website pulls all this information together to make it easier for people to find, and use. Sam and Yash believe that organizations will be able to benefit from the use of this website, and it will encourage them in addressing important issues and facilitating change in these counties.

Sam and Yash are still working on further perfecting the website, and organizing the data for more sufficient and accessible usage. They believe that the website will be a useful tool to provide easy navigation and easy understanding of important information regarding the five counties in the Central Susquehanna Valley, and thereby promote change and improvement.

Place Studies Summer Projects: Genuine Progress Indicator

This summer, Zach Moon worked on the creation of a Genuine Progress Index for Pennsylvania, the first of it’s kind.

A Genuine Progress Index, or GPI for short, is a metric used to measure the health of a nations economy. While it is similar to the more commonly known GDP (Growth Domestic Product), the GDI takes into account environmental and social factors that GDP does not include. It allows us to know whether the environmental impact of the production of goods and services hurts or helps the economy.

The GDI measures sustainability over time, and it doesn’t just add in finished products but also subtracts costs that affect sustainability over time. Such as the costs of commuting, and the cost of air pollution.

With the creation of the GPI for Pennsylvania, Zach says we must now ask ourselves, “Can we scale our index down to measure regional and local sustainability in a quantitative way?”

Place Studies Summer Projects: Geographic Information Systems

This summer, Alexa Gorski and Henry Stann completed archival research to create, for the first time, a map of Native American locations within a five mile corridor of Susquehanna River’s West Branch. Alexa and Henry found the locations of the sites, and created the GIS map to make finding the sites on a map more accessible. The map will also provide background about each of the sites. It is designed so that when one clicks on a specific location, there will be a description on the region that the viewer can read to get more information.

The project was on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Conservancy, who wanted to update the John Smith National Historical Trail with information on the history of the Susquehanna River. There had not been previous research done on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, therefore not much was known on the history of the region. The research unveiled the history of the Native Americans, conflicts and relationships between groups of people and people and the environment. Alexa and Henry uncovered Moravian diaries, old county histories, and the works of JF Meginness to aid them in their research.

Alexa and Henry hope to continue working on the interactive map and add on more locations. They are also working on the development of a self tour app that will allow people to learn more about a site when they are at that location.

View the research poster completed by Alexa and Henry here: Poster

Place Studies Summer Projects: An Evaluation of the 2013 ACA implemation

The ACA, or Affordable Care Act, is a new national health law that has been only implemented recently. This summer, Collin Greene and Will Rappaport focused their research on an evaluation of the ACA in the central Pennsylvania region, in hopes of exposing the glitches that will make the second year of enrollment in 2014-2015 much improved.

In their pursuit of answers, Collin and Will contacted heads of organizations such as United way, Columbia County Volunteers in Medicine, PA Mental Health Association, and the Lewisburg Library, and conducted interviews in person. They found that there were many challenges in enrollment that individuals faced, such as low literacy levels, lack of transportation, lack of prior knowledge of healthcare, and distrust of the government. Their findings through these interviews facilitated their project design, and fabrication of components that will improve the educating of individuals, so that the second year of enrollment will be more sufficient.

The pair came up with ideas that they believe will improve the second year of enrollment, one of which will be pursued with the grant they were given. One idea was to set up a comprehensible and more simplistic website, tailored for those with below average reading levels. In order to educate those with a lack of knowledge of healthcare, they also suggest a video tutorial that would be presented at workshops, a project that will be initiated with the grant they received.

With their project rolling and in execution, Collin and Will believe that reaching out, and educating people on the ACA and means of enrollment will save and improve lives. While some may not believe in the ACA, the program is still out there for use, and the more people who know about it and know how to enroll, the more lives that will be saved whether they believe in it or not.

Read the report Will and Collin’s research contributed to here:  The-Central-PA-ACA-Project

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