The following is a post by Patrick Foley ’13, a COS Summer Research Student, who is working on transportation issues.
I am constantly impressed by the commitment William and Mary students have shown to making a difference on Campus. We are truly a campus dedicated to learning more about those issues we care about so deeply. I have always been interested in environmental affairs, and I have been so pleased to find a group of students and faculty who share such a genuine passion for the well-being of our natural surroundings. For that reason, I am incredibly excited about the research that I have been conducting with my Committee on Sustainability Summer Research Grant.
Let me begin by telling you a little bit about my personal background. I really became involved working with environmental issues as a Sharpe Community Scholar my freshman year. My service group volunteered between 5-10 hours each week in order to help construct a Green Roof on the William and Mary campus. We also met with local high school students to educate them about green technology. I loved my work with Professor Dennis Taylor, the other students in my group, and our community partners. I knew that I had to find a way to encourage sustainability when I went home for the summer. I built upon this experience by spending last summer at the Center for Health and the Global Environment as a Research Assistant for Dr. Paul R. Epstein, who was named a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I also gained public policy experience by working on issue analysis as an intern with Bill Keating’s Congressional Campaign.
Once I returned to school, I was eager to find a new way to combine my interest in community service and environmental research. This past spring I became an Eco-Ambassador for the College and began a wonderful research project with the support of both the Committee on Sustainability and Professor John McGlennon in the Department of Government. I have found this research project to be a great way to give back while gaining research experience. The goal of my project was to examine and explore the current status of public transit usage at the College of William and Mary. During the spring, I created a survey to gauge how students felt about the efficacy and general utility of the public transit services offered by the Williamsburg Area Transportation Authority.
Since that time, I have had the privilege of continuing my research with Committee on Sustainability. Throughout the summer I have been reaching out to students and faculty alike to hear their suggestions and design a plan which will help improve the public transit system in Williamsburg. Furthermore, my research compares how those universities similar to William and Mary have gone about creating efficient and sustainable transportation programs. For that reason, I have been working with officials at a number of universities which include UVA, UNC-Chapel Hill, JMU, and Virginia Tech. Once I have completed my background research on the programs at these universities I can move forward with my final report which will attempt to synthesize the information and find a well-reasoned plan for William and Mary. Our school has a unique tradition and faces different circumstances than these institutions; but I am confident that my project will produce real results. I have so enjoyed my research project the past few months, and I am eager to continue with this project for the rest of the summer. I also hope to find new ways to promote Sustainability as a member of the Steering Committee for COS this upcoming fall. I truly appreciate that you took the time to read this whole article; I hope that I did not ramble too much. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post!