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 & Environmental Expo on May 14 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 is one of many instances in which IESA and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper have partnered to offer a public program, and O'Sullivan said both groups have similar goals and concerns – including improving the local environment.
"The Riverkeeper is engaged in protecting our watershed through 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 $15 per person for nonmembers (which includes Riverkeeper membership), $10 for Riverkeeper members, and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets or more information about the films to be shown, visit https://chattahoochee.org/wildscenic/.
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 three minutes long – that illustrate Earth's beauty and the work communities are doing to protect the environment, O'Sullivan said.