This October, NMRWA was fortunate to strengthen our partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) by providing a real-life learning laboratory for students and international visitors. In spring semester of 2017 we worked with Professor Marcela Gonzalez’s class, “City and Region, Theory and Practice”, as part of a group of nonprofits that hosted student-led projects. Two of our staff members, Michael Hiller and Maureen Copeland, coordinated a project that analyzed the Rosedale Runoff Reduction Project (RRRP) through a triple-bottom-line assessment. The resulting study provided a baseline to develop a custom calculator.
We were excited when Professor Gonzalez approached Mike Hiller again in the summer of 2017 to work more comprehensively with her fall semester of 2018 capstone class, “Policy Planning in Developing Countries”. The course was coordinated with a capstone course in the University of los Andes in Bogota, Columbia. The entire course of GSPIA students were assigned to work with NMRWA, specifically on the RRRP. The research projects include developing a triple-bottom-line calculator, analyzing the tree canopy, and comparison of other planning projects related to the RRRP. Additionally, the students were asked to think about how these problems and solutions could be translated on a global scale. This question is especially important as University of los Andes embarks on a series of water quality projects in Villapinzón, a small community outside of Bogota. Villapinzón has heavy industry, with large leather factories that create polluted waterways.
In the spring semester of 2019, GSPIA students will visit Villapinzón to learn about their local project. However, the local community leaders, students, and faculty from University of Andes visited Pittsburgh first, in October, to learn about our work. So it was with great pleasure that we welcomed these international visitors to the watershed, giving them a tour of the NMR Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project and the RRRP. We also tagged along on a tour of the Center for Coalfield Justice in Washington, PA to learn about how the local waterways are being polluted in a rural area of Pittsburgh.
Thank you to Professor Gonzalez, University of Pittsburgh students, University of los Andes students and faculty, the community leaders of Villapinzón, and the Center for Coalfield Justice! We truly enjoyed our time together, and look forward to future opportunities to work together and exchange information on a global scale.