Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
I split the class into small groups and assign them a list of properties that are suspected of being brownfields. Their job is to do a phase 1 (dig up background information) assessment and do a site visit to take GPS readings and photograph. This exercise helps students understand the need for brownfields redevelopment.
I use this exercise in my "Environmental Issues (sophomore level)" and "Environmental Pollution and Remediation (junior/senior level)" classes.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
Students must have mastered the degree of pressure exerted on "greenfields" due to the massive development currently occurring in New Jersey. They should also understand the problems associated with opening up forest areas for "development".
How the activity is situated in the course
This is a stand-alone project, but I give one of the groups the option of using their brownfields exercise as a term project for the course. This particular group ends up doing all the paperwork for the whole class. They then work with the Department of Commnity Affairs in listing these sites so potential developers can see them online.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Identify alternative to developing greenfields
- Understand the site assessment process
- Work with local municipalities and understand the process of listing sites and submitting proposals for development
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Challenging the perception of benefits from brownfields redevelopment e.g. brownfield development is supposed to revitalize dying neighborhoods and provide opportunities for local people. However, it ends up displacing poor people due to increased taxes etc.
Other skills goals for this activity
Use of Geographical Info Systems, searching the Web for background information, and working in groups.
Description of the activity/assignment
Students are assigned specific sites in the municipal of interest (sites that are suspected of being brownfields).They are expected to use the Web (NJ DEP) to find out as much information as they can about the history of the site and then visit the site to provide information about the physical characteristics of the site (including photos and GPS readings). They are then asked to provide a write-up describing the site, highlighting both its positive and negative points (to a potential buyer). The next step is to upload this information to the NJSITEMART website for developers to see. Students are then asked to defend their write-ups. A group of 4 students is expected to work on about 20 sites.
Determining whether students have met the goals
I look at the sites they have worked on and use the database on the NJDEP site to see if it matches what they came up with. I also use their presentation period to ask questions and quiz them on their work. We also do site visits together.
Teaching materials and tips
[file 'Activity Description/Assignment']
[file 'Instructors Notes']
[file 'Solution Set']
https://gisdata-njdep.opendata.arcgis.com/ (source for electronic GIS files)