Last Thursday evening, students from the Department of Geography and the general Rowan community gathered on Robinson Green for an outdoor movie screening of ‘Racing Extinction.’ The event was part of a joint project between two class periods in the geography department, Urban Geography, taught by professor Megan Bucknum, and Sensing the Sustainable City, taught by assistant professor Jen Kitson.
For Kitson, this event was a way for students in both classes to exercise what they had learned about public gathering places.
“We were interested in performing or demonstrating some of the best practices from other successful public spaces that achieve community involvement and invitation in the process,” Kitson said. “This event was really inspired by Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philly, which is a pop-up summer park that has been applauded for its huge attraction for the city [of Philadelphia].”
The film shown was a National Geographic production about human impact on the environment and how humans have become a major driver of climate change. Colby Emmons, a junior geographic information systems major, was present at the screening. He said he enjoyed the film and felt that it had an important message to deliver to people who watched it.
“We’re rapidly increasing our carbon emissions and it’s affecting every single species on the planet,” Emmons said. “And it really brought together how not only direct human interaction with species is affecting them, but overall, the fossil fuels that we’re burning are also indirectly affecting them. If we don’t start changing things now, we’re not going to try and change things until it’s a little too late.”
Senior geographic information systems major Tim Lemon was one of the crew members tasked with putting up and taking down the screen and surrounding decorations at the event. For him, this was a positive step in the right direction and showed the benefits of public engagement. After the event, he said he was hopeful for future screenings to be put on by the department.
“It’s tough to say based on one event,” Lemon said. “But given how many people came out here, and not everybody that attended the event is specifically from the geography department, we attracted students that span multiple disciplines and multiple backgrounds. If you go to Spruce Street Harbor Park, it’s an incredibly diverse atmosphere.”
And for Lemon, the final message to take away from the screening is that public spaces can be utilized effectively, as long as there is a plan in place beforehand.
“In order to really effectively use a space, we have to become active parts of our environment, and I think that’s what this whole [event] speaks to,” he said.
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