Richfield Greenstep Cities is looking for a summer intern who would be responsible for gathering departmental data and inputting information into the Minnesota Greenstep Cities website. There is a possibility of monetary compensation. This is a great way to get involved in local sustainability with a big, successful program. Please consider applying!
Photo: Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve
University faculty have the ability to transform how students view sustainability, and can help connect students with opportunities to put it into action. In order to take advantage of this unique potential, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment will host “Sustainability and Social Action,” a two-day workshop focused on how professors and instructional staff can incorporate the many facets of sustainability both in and out of the classroom to help students promote sustainability in their communities. This year’s workshop will take place on June 17 and 18.
Students can play a major role in the future of sustainability if they have the necessary cross-disciplinary and communication skills. They must understand balance among environmental, economic, and social needs, and be able to combine types of thought including scientific, creative, and systems-based thinking. Faculty can enhance these skills by moving beyond summarizing global challenges to helping students analyze and invent solutions. At this workshop you will explore networks of local experts and contributors to the sustainability movement to find your own way to promote sustainability among students.
The Sustainability and Social Action workshop welcomes faculty who want to integrate sustainability and justice into their curriculum, or create experiential opportunities for students to channel social concern into social action. This is also an opportunity for faculty teaching themes within sustainability, such as renewable energy or food systems, to learn about real-world applications for their subject matter. During the workshop participants will also have time to network and develop ideas for future cooperation.
The workshop will begin at the Gandhi Mahal Indian restaurant in Minneapolis. After a one-hour interactive session with Julia Nerbonne of the Higher Education Consortium of Urban Affairs (HECUA) and Kris Igo of the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute, LaDonna Redmond will speak about her work establishing two organic markets and an urban farm staffed by inner-city youth on the South Side of Chicago. Her presentation will be followed by a tour of an urban farm in Minneapolis.
The rest of the workshop will take place at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. After some time to settle in and enjoy the outdoor scenery, everyone will gather for dinner and a bonfire to discuss the ideas presented at the workshop. The following morning will provide more opportunity for reflection with faculty and community partners, as well as presentations by some participants.
The workshop will provide a valuable opportunity for faculty to strengthen their own knowledge of sustainability in a way that helps them inspire students to take action. By learning to combine ways of thinking and hearing from people who have already put solutions into action, faculty can instill in their students a lifetime of commitment to sustainability.
For more information, visit the workshop page.
Written by Madeline Giefer
April is Earth Month, a time we dedicate to the planet that has given us all we have. It’s no secret that the health of the Earth has been suffering lately because of human impact, and many fear that the world may not be able to continue to sustain us in the way that it has for so many years. That’s why some great students got together at the Institute on the Environment this April to participate in the Environmental Hackathon, a summit and workshop to prepare solutions for issues facing the world today.
On April 13th, students gathered for a day-long event focused on entrepreneurship and the environment. Guests participated in the Marshmallow Challenge (and did surprisingly well,) and performed design assessments and experiments. Then, participants broke up into teams and focused on the development of a particular idea they wanted to implement. The students came up with some really great solutions and had an awesome time generating ideas and working together.
On Monday, April 15th, the groups got together again to present their plans in front of judges and visitors. The audience was eager to see what the students prepared, and the presenters were very excited to share their ideas. One presentation By Eric Sannerud and Alfonso Sintjago focused on a sustainable marketing opportunity for the University of Minnesota- the creation of a cider made from famous U of M apples. A contest could be developed every year to encourage participation among students and the university community to create the best-tasting cider. Profits could be devoted to sustainability and research at the U. This venture received a great response from the audience and the online community- the idea was retweeted by many sustainability followers. Keep your eyes open for Gopher Cider in the future, it may make an appearance at your next social gathering or on grocery store shelves.
Another venture, presented by Tatiana Hakanson, focused on strengthening relationships between youth and universities in the Twin Cities. Hakanson is trying to engage high schools in implementing sustainability programs and groups into their curriculum. She believes that learning about the environment and science early on helps to develop student involvement and sets them up for careers in the area. She wants to create a program where college students can connect with high school students on a regular basis and coach them into a future in sustainability.
The groups were awarded prize money to continue to develop their ventures. It was a really exciting experience for all involved, and the students were able to get valuable feedback on their presentations. The plans are already in the works for next year’s Hackathon, and IonE is hoping to grow the event and support more awesome ideas.
Written by Dominique Boczek
As the year winds down and students begin spending more time studying and finishing up projects, the libraries will see extended hours and fuller spaces. At Magrath library, students will find a new diversion- the Sustainability Library Display.
The display is filled with books, magazines, items, and memos all revolving around the theme of sustainability. Although the movement towards a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle may seem like a recent phenomenon scientists and theorists have been studying humanity’s impact on the environment for many decades. It seems as though there is a common deep-rooted will to preserve the natural part of Earth, even as humanity is drawn to growth and materialism.
The display includes old classics such as A Sand County Almanac written by Aldo Leopold in 1949 and Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson in 1962. These two pieces are often seen as the most important environmental books of the 20th century. Silent Spring, which focuses on the use of DDT and its effects on birds, is frequently credited with starting the modern environmental movement. A dated copy of the book and an illustrated selection are included in the exhibit, a contrast from the eye-catching, newly-released books.
The books fall under six categories: Collapse, Consumption, Recent Work, Classics, Food, and Related Issues. Each segment represents a section of sustainability that is important in the academic sector and world conversation. Each piece was recommended by a University of Minnesota student or faculty member for its merit or message. Some books are particularly unique, including Cradle to Cradle, which is printed on plastic that can be recycled indefinitely. Many of the works also include beautiful pictures and colorful covers that would catch the eye of any reader.
The display also features sustainable items including a reusable bag, a CFL, a miniature windmill, and a portable solar oven. Each item contributes to making a positive environmental impact on the world, and represents humanity’s dedication to sustainable technology. The walls of the display are framed with posters detailing past sustainability events and promotions at the University of Minnesota. These books and materials from the past provide keen insight into the future of sustainability and the health of our planet. The exhibit also includes brochures and magazines distributed by the University’s Institute on the Environment focusing on sustainability and world health.
You may recognize some of the books from your classes or from popular culture, or some might be completely new to you. Each contains exciting information about environmental problems and solutions, and may just motivate you to become the next world-changer. Best of all, each book is available for rental at the library. So even though finals may be on your mind, be sure to pick up a book and a list for a good summer read or for a study break. You never know how it might inspire you!
Written by Dominique Boczek
The Boreas Leadership Program consistently strives to connect graduate students to leaders in the environmental field and each other. The program develops students as they learn from success-stories in today’s challenging workplace, but the last meeting was unique in that it offered the youth voice.
May Boeve is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of 350.org, and organization that is attempting to reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to below 350 parts per million. Although this number is identified as the threshold for human safety, we have surpassed this level and are increasingly at risk for environmental destruction and biodiversity loss. Boeve saw the need to address this situation and worked with her eco-friends and climate all-star Bill McKibben to make a difference.
At 29 years old, Boeve already has a long list of triumphs under her belt, but has devoted much of the last five years to her work at 350.org. The organization was created after a successful “Step It Up” campaign that rallied people from all across the US interested in mitigating climate change and protecting the environment. However, Boeve’s work with the environment started much earlier.
Her involvement in campaigns like these began in her days at Middlebury College, where she took part in environmental meetings every Sunday. The group made a lot of big changes to campus and had fun while doing it. When other students saw how easy and fun living a sustainable lifestyle could be, they became more interested in the cause. Upon graduation, she met with her friends to decide where to move and how to make a difference. Although the town they chose had a sufficient number of microbreweries to make the cut as a post-graduation hangout, Boeve was excited for the “Step It Up” opportunity so she didn’t have to move to Billings, Montana.
But Boeve’s take-away message relied on one aspect: social is key. The common theme among all of her environmental efforts was a big group of people sharing a common mission of bettering the world we live in. The more fun and social you can make an event or movement, the more interested participants will be and the more likely they will be to contribute again. If people can find their niche working with you, your organization will grow and find success. It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 85, if you have a goal and a couple of good friends, you can certainly achieve it.
Written by Dominique Boczek