FIT Students Present Three Proposals at Clinton Global Initiative University

The blossoming relationship between FIT and the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), I am happy to report, continues to flourish.

A year ago, I posted about a pair of FIT students—Lydia Baird and Willa Tsokanis—who presented their plans for an innovative muslin-composting project at the 2015 CGI U in Miami. Their project is now fully functioning and the nutrient-rich material the project produces is used all over campus in our many green spaces and on our green roof system.

The year before that, three of our students — Caitlin Powell, Amber Harkonen, and Meghan Navoy — attended the 2014 CGI U to present their proposal to develop the natural dye garden, now in place on the 9th floor terrace of the Feldman Center, which also happens to make use of the composted muslin.

Both projects grew out of grants from FIT’s Sustainability Council, which I initiated to develop and foster sustainability initiatives throughout our community.

l-r: Sarah Langenbach, Shona Neary, Jillian Oderwald, Amanda Farr, Sabrya Said, Ayodele Myers

Now, I am proud to say that in early April, FIT students presented not just one, but three innovative project proposals at the 2016 CGI U, hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton at the University of California, Berkeley. The CGI U is highly competitive, with only about one in six projects accepted for presentation.

Three cheers are in order for FIT and our many student presenters and their winning proposals at this year’s CGI U.

FIT HIVES, developed by Shona Neary, a Fine Arts major, and Sarah Langenbach, a Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing major, would establish a bee education program by setting up a bee hive at FIT. Students from the Film and Media Program will make a documentary as the project progresses. Currently, Ms. Neary and Ms. Langenbach are in discussions with beekeepers and Host-a-Hive programs to identify possible locations for the hive and to find a beekeeper who could care for the hive year-round. They also are working to educate FIT students about the importance of bees in the environment, with the goal of connecting FIT students with local beekeepers to develop sustainable, bee-derived resources for projects, products, and designs.


FIT Natural Dye Garden: Next Phase, developed by Jillian Oderwald, a Textile Development and Marketing major, and Amanda Farr, a Fashion Business Management major, advances the work of the FIT Natural Dye Garden. The Dye Garden promotes sustainable and eco-friendly dyeing practices. The project would increase outreach beyond FIT via social media, through Facebook and Instagram, as well as a stand-alone website on how to plant a garden or conduct research. Further outreach may include tours of the garden and workshops on natural dyeing for students in local schools.


STEAM Into Action, developed by Sabrya Said, an Advertising and Marketing Communications major, and Ayodele Myers, a Fashion Business Management major, adds an “A” for “art” to the STEM acronym (science, technology, engineering, and math). The project would hold workshops on campus to introduce underrepresented students in middle and high school to opportunities in tech, arts, and higher education. FIT students would invite students from area schools to participate in workshops and mentorship programs and serve as role models for the younger students.


I wish all three presentation teams, and the FIT faculty members who helped shepherd them along the way, continued success as their projects make the transition from proposal to real-world implementation.