Lafitte Greenway

Written by Tristan Gill

Group of students on greenway

One of the principal goals of the Southeastern Louisiana University Sociology and Criminal Justice department is to provide its students with the ability to use their learned skills in real world settings. Through this, students in the Sociology and Criminal Justice department not only gain the technical knowledge of their discipline, but also gain the ability to utilize that knowledge by applying it in the real world.

For example, in August 2017, students in the Environmental Sociology Graduate Seminar began a partnership with the Friends of Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans to research obstructions, options, and benefits for the proposed expansion of the greenway.

Lafitte Greenway walkingThe Lafitte Greenway, which opened in 2015, is a 2.6 mile pedestrian trail and bike path connecting several different New Orleans neighborhoods, cultural features, historic sites, retail areas and public spaces. One of the main objectives of the greenway is to provide environmental remediation through elements like community gardens, native plantings to mitigate stormwater flooding, and bioswales where plantings remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water.  The proposed expansion of the greenway will attempt to extend its current path from North Alexander Street to Canal Boulevard in the Lakeview neighborhood.

For this project, the graduate student groups researched different possibilities for the Lafitte Greenway to negotiate with the Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation, who own part of the land for the proposed greenway expansion. Students utilized the training learned in their classes to conduct research on the history of past negotiations between the railroad company and other greenways, to research environmentally sustainable and socially progressive uses of vacant land along the greenway expansion, and to utilize social theory within their research.

Lafitte Greenway group walkingThis project not only aided the students in applying their learned skills, but allowed them the ability to work with organizations in order to gain a real world sense of community building and cooperation. Throughout the Masters of Science in Applied Sociology program, projects and activities like these abound in order to produce ardent students who are ready to create social change.