The Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental & Spatial Analysis (IESA) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will be sponsoring the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival on May 30 in Gainesville, Georgia. The event, held in partnership with Brenau University and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, is a reflection of IESA's core mission to promote environmental education.
The programs offered by IESA feature the use of advanced technology, interdisciplinary instruction, collaborative learning and service. Students work toward a competent mastery of Geographic Information Systems as a real-world research methodology, and then combine studies in Earth sciences, biology, engineering or social science concerns – wherever their interests lie, said Dr. John O'Sullivan, a professor of sociology in IESA, which was formed in 2001 on UNG's Gainesville Campus.
"We are proud of our students because they can see why things happen, where they happen and help to solve problems," he said. "Our students increasingly understand that biology is connected to economy and our water quality is connected to consumption patterns. They know the health of our eco-systems is connected to our values and a sense of responsibility to the next generation."
IESA students, faculty and staff routinely work together with industry, government and community partners through their coursework, resulting in a dynamic and socially relevant learning environment. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival marks the third time this year that IESA and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper have partnered to offer a public program, and O'Sullivan said both groups have similar goals and concerns – improving the local environment.
"The Riverkeeper is engaged in protecting our watershed though on-the-ground field testing and working with cities and developers, and the IESA program is using satellite data and complex mapping to understand and monitor the very same issues," he said. "We bring Riverkeeper field experts into our classes, and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper uses data and maps from IESA to make better ground and policy strategies. It's these sorts of engaged partnerships that improve both educational outcomes for students and environmental realities for everyone."
The festival is set for 6-9:30 p.m. at Brenau's Downtown Center, located at 301 Main St. SW in Gainesville. Tickets are $10 per person, $5 for students. An environmental expo featuring local, regional and statewide organizations and programs starts at 6 p.m. The screening begins at 7 p.m. and features two hours of short environmental and adventure films – some only 3 minutes long – that illustrate the Earth's beauty and the work communities are doing to protect the environment.
"The films show people connecting with the natural world by either playing on its edges or solving its central problems," Sullivan said. "Many of the films are inspiring and show how individual actions can add up to change the world. The films unite communities and make people more aware of conservation issues and our natural resources."