Strengthening Our Connections to the Community and the World

Making a Difference in a Crisis: CAS Researchers Respond to the Haitian Earthquake

This map of greater Port-au-Prince shows the latest damage based on data students and faculty culled from a variety of sources, including government agencies, open source mapping sites, and private satellite firms.

In under a minute last January, a 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, killing thousands, destroying countless homes and roads, and leaving millions homeless.

Recognizing the magnitude of the devastation, BU’s Center for Remote Sensing immediately sprang into action to help—not with doctors or supplies, but with maps.

The center's professors and graduate students were uniquely prepared for this disaster. They had been working on a sustainable redevelopment plan for the island nation for much of 2009, accumulating volumes of data on the island’s topography and infrastructure. When disaster struck, a team of volunteers from the center spent three days nonstop amassing geographic data of the altered terrain and creating maps from that information to then send to Haiti. The maps, critical to damage-appraisal efforts in Port-au-Prince, continue to play a role in rebuilding efforts.

The response of the Center for Remote Sensing to the Haiti earthquake demonstrates dramatically how research, far from existing in a vacuum, has tremendous impact on the lives of real people. It also demonstrates how the scientists and researchers in the College of Arts & Sciences are committed to finding new and significant ways to share the rewards of their scholarship.

CAS also is committed to finding ways to connect what the College does as a leading research and education center to the City of Boston and New England. CAS faculty members have initiated informal discussions about taking advantage of Boston as a laboratory for learning and are developing a number of proposals, including plans to restore and enhance the New England focus of the American & New England Studies Program, programs to advance interdisciplinary research and education in the geosciences through development of projects that involve observation and monitoring of the local environment, and efforts to increase the availability of service learning and community-based research opportunities.

CAS faculty and students are involved in a variety of community outreach activities, notably in coordination with local schools, and with the creation of the new position of Associate Dean for Research & Outreach, CAS will introduce more structure and visibility to its involvement with the community, creating a stronger framework for faculty and student involvement. Over the next five years, the College will improve the coordination of its outreach activities within CAS and in cooperation with the School of Education and other BU schools and colleges.

Through the First-Year Experience, CAS introduces new BU students to the Boston community. Activities include faculty- and staff-led field trips to explore and learn about the Boston area.

CAS: A Global Microcosm in an International University

CAS is a major contributor to the international character of Boston University. CAS students and faculty come from all over the globe, and each year hundreds of undergraduates participate in study abroad programs. CAS faculty members are engaged in overseas research and participate in international collaborative programs. The College is proud of its many scientists who involve their students in fieldwork in such places as the glaciers of Antarctica, the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Ecuador, or the ecosystems of the Caribbean Sea. 

Watch this video on YouTube

BU Abroad: Finding the Galapagos

Jackie spent last spring in the Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program, studying in the field and at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. The highlight of her experience, though, was a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, the place, she says, that "ties everything together for me."

Annual Report 2009/2010

  • From the DeanFrom the Dean
    In the past year the College of Arts & Sciences has gone from strength to strength.
  • Strengthening the Quality of the Faculty Strengthening the Quality of the Faculty
    The strength and reputation of Boston University and CAS as a world-class teaching and research institution rest on the quality of its faculty.
  • Attracting and Nurturing the Best StudentsAttracting and Nurturing the Best Students
    By maintaining high standards of academic quality and integrity and adhering to the best liberal arts traditions, CAS increasingly is regarded as a prime destination by intelligent and highly motivated students.
  • Strengthening the Student Experience: Focusing on Student SuccessStrengthening the Student Experience: Focusing on Student Success
    The College of Arts & Sciences works hard to attract great students and is committed to making sure they stay once they get here.
  • Strengthening Graduate Education, Research and ScholarshipStrengthening Graduate Education
    Graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences learn that a critical component of their education is the need to apply what they learn to the benefit of their communities.
  • Creating New Scholarly Infrastructure and ConnectionsEnhancing The Research Mission In The College Of Arts & Sciences
    The research trajectory of the College continued its upward climb this year.
  • Strengthening Our Connections to the Community and the WorldStrengthening Our Connections to the Community and the World
    In keeping with the collaborative teaching and research culture that exists across BU, CAS partners in many graduate programs across the University.
  • Managing Our Financial ResourcesManaging Our Financial Resources
    The current economic downturn has had a real impact on resource development initiatives at colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Nurturing Our Connections with Alumni and Friends Nurturing Our Connections with Alumni and Friends
    Strong, vital connections with alumni are critical to our being able to realize the goals we have indentified in our strategic planning and beyond.
  • Celebrating the Class of 2010Celebrating the Class of 2010
    Seniors and their families, faculty, trustees, and other members of the BU community celebrated the 137th Commencement of Boston University at Nickerson Field on Sunday, May 16.
  • AppendixAppendix