Nature–Culture–Sustainability Studies

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Alumni

Following graduation, students who have completed a Master's Degree in Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies are well-positioned to pursue many different scholarly and professional paths that are related to sustainability. From environmental advocacy to doctoral study, here is a snapshot of several alumni who are taking their expertise in exciting new directions.

Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana Munni

Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana Munni

Doctoral Candidate, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Alyce Santoro

Alyce Santoro

Artist

Dongrui Tang

Dongrui Tang

Doctoral Candidate, Washington University

Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana Munni

Doctoral Candidate, The University of British Columbia, Canada

MA 19 NCSS

THESIS: “These Things Are No More”: Climate-Induced Displacement as a System of Adaptation in Bangladesh

Before coming to RISD, Rubaiya started her academic career with Khulna University and then BRAC University. She is interested in sustainable architectural design. To carry on her research in the broader areas of environmental humanities, design, and social sciences, she enrolled in the Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies graduate program at RISD. She believes, from this interdisciplinary environmental study, she learned that nature and culture are intimately bound together. The knowledge of environmental issues can open up immense opportunities to see the world from a multidimensional perspective. Her thesis was about climate-induced internally displaced people in Bangladesh. Visualizing through storytelling and mapping are amongst the demonstrative tools that she applied in her research. While doing her thesis at RISD, she found the local communities are combating the impacts of climate change by practicing several innovative ideas developed based on their knowledge of practicing sustainability and living in harmony with nature. With the quest for the right path to address climate change, she is continuing her research on the built structure and environment in the School of Engineering at UBC. Her notion is to design environment-friendly buildings by creating them resource-efficient.

Alyce Santoro

Artist

MA 19 NCSS

THESIS: An Intricate Ensemble: The Art-Science of an Ecological Imaginary for the Anthropocene Epoch

Compelled to make art about science after studying marine biology as an undergraduate, Santoro was first drawn to Rhode Island in 1990 by RISD’s Continuing Education program in Scientific and Technical Illustration. For the ensuing decade she worked as a research assistant by day while conducting creative experiments in ramshackle loft spaces on Providence’s west side by night. In 2002 Santoro relocated to Brooklyn, then the southwest, to deepen the practice of multimedia art inspired by concepts contemplated in science, such as reductionism, dualism, and objectivity — is the observer ever truly separate from that which is being observed? She was thrilled by the opportunity return to RISD in 2018 to deepen the philosophical and socio-ecological underpinnings of her work through the NCSS master's program. After graduation in 2019, Santoro returned to the rural southwest to continue exploring the argument presented in her thesis: can practices and frameworks that cultivate imagination and reason in tandem —including visual and auditory responses to deep looking/listening — catalyze constructive collective shifts?

Dongrui Tang

Doctoral Candidate, Washington University

MA 19 NCSS

THESIS: Unsuspecting Allies: Cultivating Nature in Early Childhood Education

Dongrui Tang is a newly admitted PhD student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development program at Washington University. The focus for her doctoral studies is understanding the influence of the childhood outdoor learning environment relevant to health – specifically, the purposeful daily exposure to nature environments, and the corresponding academic performance and psychological wellbeing.

Dongrui's passion for this field derived from her practical experience in landscape projects aiming for promoting children’s nature play experience while in Japan. In one of the projects at Miyano-oka forest kindergarten, she met adults who spent their childhood here and became interested in their nature play experience and its influence on their later life. In 2018, she returned to Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her masters degree in Landscape Architecture, and enrolled in the NCSS masters degree program. In 2019, Dongrui launched an independent research project which focused on the historical aspect of the development of the outdoor learning curriculum at Miyano-oka. This work culminated in her Master’s thesis Unsuspecting Allies: Cultivating Nature in Early Childhood Education (2019). After she returned to China in 2021, she worked as an assistant researcher for Dr. Gaochao Zhang at Tsinghua University, whose research focuses on using VR (virtual reality) and wearable EEG (electroencephalogram) equipment to study the impacts of short-term exposure to nature on people’s mental health. In October in 2021, she began teaching 4th grade and 6th grade students at Baoshan, Shanghai in an elective computing course.