Sustainability Education University of Minnesota Fri, 23 Jan 2015 22:34:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Present at a Sustainability Conference: Abstracts Due Soon Fri, 23 Jan 2015 22:15:51 +0000 Minnesota is hosting two major sustainability conferences this fall, and students are encouraged to submit presentation proposals. This may include a poster, a 30-minute talk, a workshop, or something else. Presenters may work individually or in a group.

Presenting at a conference can make your resume stand out, so take advantage of these two opportunities!

Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS)
Bemidji, June 17-19

UMACS is a biannual conference drawing campus sustainability leaders, including many students, from around the Upper Midwest. It’s a great place for students to network and exchange ideas.

Abstract submission (Deadline: February 13)


Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
Minneapolis Convention Center, October 25-28

AASHE is a conference drawing professors, administrators, and students from around the world. This year it’s right here in Minneapolis, so take this opportunity to share your work with the world!

Abstract submission (Deadline: February 23)


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Not Your Average Office Hours! Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:49:01 +0000 10942979_10152895116251195_8489074271456121491_o

Welcome back UMN! Interested in a sustainability studies minor? Interested in getting more involved in sustainability minded student groups? Or how about just hanging out with great people in relaxed environment? Come hang out with us at Sustainability Spotlight!

Sustainability Spotlight is not your average office hours. Although there will be people there to help you pick out classes and to talk about the program, Sustainability Spotlight also wants to just be a chill space where you can hang out for an hour and talk to other students and student groups about anything and everything sustainability!

Every other Friday (starting January 30th) we will be hanging out with a spotlight student group that is making sustainable waves on campus. All you have to do is show up with your questions and interests, and the rest should be a good time!

If your student group would like to be spotlighted, please send an email to with a little blurb about your student group and what you are doing.

Tentative Sustainability Spotlight Schedule:

January 30th - Students for Sustainability

February 13th – 

February  27th – 

March 13th -

March 27th – 

April 10th -

April 24th -

May 8th – 

We will be updating this blog post as we secure student groups, and will also include what the overall theme of that Sustainability Spotlight is. We hope to touch on themes of food, conservation, activism, and anything else that you all suggest!

So come hang out with us every other Friday in Folwell 120 from 3:30-4:30


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Admin Job with Will Steger Foundation Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:41:36 +0000 Will Steger

The Will Steger Foundation, a globally recognized organization working on climate change and arctic health, is seeking a new administrative assistant for its Minneapolis office. Applications are rolling until February 9.

JOB TITLE: Administrative Assistant
LOCATION: Minneapolis, Will Steger Foundation office
REPORTS TO: Executive Director
TYPE: 15 hours/week – $12/hr, Monday through Friday, 9 am – 12 noon office hours

To assist with program facilitation, support functions to enhance program operations, and assignments
as needed.

  • Provide financial accounting support with accuracy and attention to detail, including managing bank and
    credit card statements, and vendor invoices and contracts
  • Process donations efficiently, make deposit at bank, and acknowledge donations with thank you letter in
    48-hour time frame
  • Perform database entry and maintenance for donors and Will Steger Foundation contacts
  • Assist with mailings to supporters – both in-house (using mail merge, labels, and postage) or
    coordinating with printer and mail house
  • Assist with preparing communications (e-news, mailed newsletters, annual report, grants and event
  • Perform general office duties (checking the mail, answering the phone, photocopying, assembling
    handouts, data entry, organizing files and office materials)
  • Responsible for arranging coffee/food for meetings and ensuring conference room is ready for meetings
  • Responsible for all office equipment such as copiers, phone system, projector and internet
  • Responsible for office errands, including trips to bank (bi-weekly), post office (as needed), Office Max
  • Work well with others to promote office morale, be a positive first contact for the organization, and
    support efficient office productivity


  • At least one year demonstrated administrative experience
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred
  • Strong organization skills with ability to prioritize, multi-task and meet deadlines
  • Ability to balance multiple tasks independently with an eye for detail in a fast-paced environment
  • Excellent computer skills including Word, Excel, Power Point, and Google Drive. Comfortable with
    Apple products, including Apple computers
  • Excellent communication skills including the ability to express concepts in writing and through
    individual conversations
  • Experience trouble-shooting assorted office equipment (copier, internet, polycom)
  • Be available for occasional meetings and special functions beyond business hours
  • Valid drivers license and dependable car
  • Be able to lift up to 40 lbs.
  • Knowledge and interest in the issue of climate change

Please submit resume and cover letter to Put “Administrative Assistant: last
name, first name” in the subject heading. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through Feb. 9,
2015. No phone calls please.

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Sustainability Alumni Change Agent Profile: Q & A with Kari Schwab Tue, 30 Dec 2014 17:15:35 +0000 By Maggie Kristian, Institute on the Environment Leaders’ Program



Kari Schwab graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 with a B.S. in Agricultural and Food Business Management. Schwab grew up on a farm in Minnesota, and was very involved in FFA before coming to the University of Minnesota. She has worked for U.S. senators as well as in policy and education, especially that relating to agriculture. However, she has also continued to bring her impressive skill sets and achievements back to the University, and is now actively involved with the Policy Engagement Program which works to connect CFANS students with Minnesota policy leaders through the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC), working to not only play a great role in the future of Minnesota’s Agriculture policy, but empower and enable students to truly understand and impact the state and environment in which they live.


Q: You had a very business/marketing oriented major; how did you end up working in such a policy-oriented field?

A: Well, I always had some interest in politics. I remember my mother would always talk about the elections at home, and when I was at the U, the Franken/Coleman recounts were going on, so there was a lot of discussion around that on campus. I had always though I wanted to go into agriculture, into ag-business, that was kind of my big picture plan for things. When I graduated in 2010 though, the economy wasn’t that great for jobs, so I worked retail for a few years, just as a job. But then there was a major change in the U.S. Senate, and lots of new people who needed staff. So I applied there. Eventually, they had some legislative positions open up, for full-time, year-round positions. I ended up working for Senator Nelson, vice chair of the Minnesota Senate Education Committee- so again, the education theme- and worked for her for about a year. After that, I found an opening in the Agriculture Committee.

Q: How did you get involved in the CFANS Policy Engagement Program?

A: I actually read about it in The Daily, while I was working at the Senate, and I thought it was really cool, and I wanted to be involved. I went to a few meetings in 2013 and was asked to continue helping out in 2014. This version of the program is kind of new, because there are three of us that are new. We try to play to each other’s strengths. Last session, for example, I facilitated the discussion because I have some knowledge of the elections, especially local politics.

Q: What’s your vision for the CFANS Policy Engagement Program going forward? Is there anything you want to change?

A: I want to see students with a clear understanding of how these [political] processes work, so it’s not just showing up and doing some activities. People are devoting a lot of time to this, 3 hours each month, for no class credit. We have talked about having clear outcomes for a relevant and valuable experience. Last year we didn’t really get to focus on international, which is something we want to do.

Q: Why do you like your job? What makes you get up and come in to work every morning?

A: I think it’s the people and the variety of work. One day I could be working with high school students, Future Farmers of America kids and people who are interesting in maybe pursuing Ag-Ed…College students when I’m here in the office. Students are just really fun to work with. We also have a 16 person board with a lot of different backgrounds, we have 6 legislators, 2 farmers, someone from the FFA foundation, the president of the agriculture department. I get to interact with a wide variety of people there; our goal is to be the go-to source about legislation regarding Ag policy. We want to be that information source, so we end up in a lot of policy-oriented environments, we end up in the capitol about once a year. It’s nice because I get to have the policy side of things without the headache of the capitol schedule- sometimes we’d be up until 3 in the morning!

Q: So you’ve obviously been involved in policy that affects a lot of people. What advice would you give to a freshman College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences student today on how they could also become a world shaper?

A: If you’re interested in policy, make connections with people. And I know that sounds really difficult for a student. The senate offers a really great Minnesota Senate College Internship Program, and you don’t need to know a ton about policy to do it. I picked up a lot of it when I was there. It was all hands-on learning. There’s also usually a day dedicated for students to go to the capitol and gather, to have a rally. It could be union day, it could be University of Minnesota day, and basically any organization that has members has a day when they can meet with their legislators. It’s open to any student, and it’s a great opportunity.

Other than that, just watch the news! You have to go and seek it out, but it keeps you up to date and educated for when you have to talk to people about it. And the Minnesota State Capitol Building is always open –well, right now it’s under construction- but it’s the people’s building, and you can honestly call up any legislator, and depending on schedules you might not always get an appointment, but you can totally go and talk to one of your representative for 10 minutes and say ‘I want to talk about tuition freezing’ or whatever it is. That’s definitely something that’s unique about this country, and about Minnesota, it’s a really transparent system compared to a lot of other states.



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Student Communications Position at the Institute on the Environment Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:59:00 +0000 5834699729_99cc2e0130_b

This position was closed on 1/21/2015.

IonE is hiring a new Undergraduate Communications Assistant for its food policy work. So if you’d like a job in environmental studies, journalism, or science communication, apply to join the team!

Apply at the UMN Employment website. Requisition number: 195703

Required Qualifications:

Coursework and/or experience in environmental studies, journalism and science communication.

Preferred Qualifications:

Junior or senior at the University of Minnesota.

Typical Duties:

Support the development of web properties that translate research to a broad audience of environmental professionals. Tasks performed in this position are entry level in nature. Duties may include (but are not limited to) fact-checking content for a new web property for environmental communication; conducting background research for infographics and photo galleries; entry-level writing/editing/proofing, biogs and press releases; providing content for social media; and engaging stakeholders.


Temporary position, 1/15/14 – 5/15/14, 10–15 hours per week at $11/hr, with potential for continuing summer semester depending on funding and performance.


Photo credit

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New Course Opportunities Thu, 11 Dec 2014 01:38:59 +0000 4705279733_61a1397295_b


PA 4790 – Sustainable Infrastructure and Cities

This course is broadly inter-disciplinary and explores infrastructure and sustainable cities across the perspectives of – science and engineering, environmental studies, urban design, planning, public affairs and public health.

The course will cover:

  1. Sustainable urban systems thinking
  2. Sustainability measurements and analysis— for infrastructures and for cities
  3. Innovative case studies linking infrastructure design, urban design and public policy for sustainability, health and resilience

Systems based understanding of a city with built infrastructure, people and the natural environment as key interacting elements

How do key infrastructure sectors – water, energy, buildings, transportation-communication, sanitation/waste management, food supply and public spaces—affect environmental sustainability and risk in cities?

What are the various metrics to report on environmental sustainability, health and resilience?

How can we apply principles of systems design and innovation to built better cities of the future?

HCOL 3805H – Our Common Waters: The Science, History, Economics, and Societal Issues of the Great Lakes

Instructors: Deborah Swackhamer and Daniel Philippon
3 credits
Fulfills LE requirement: Environment

This honors class will explore “water” by focusing on the Great Lakes, using a liberal arts approach to emphasize the interdisciplinary aspects of water in nature and society. Students will learn about the chemical, ecological, and geological aspects and challenges of the Great Lakes. We will also examine the rich history, economic drivers, music, art, and cultural contributions, and the laws and policies that govern the Great Lakes and shape national and international policy. In addition, students will benefit from a mentored research experience that allows them to explore one of these areas in further depth.

Students not in the Honors Program are welcome; contact to be placed on the waiting list.

Registration & more info


GWSS 1006 – Skin, Sex, Genes

Thursdays 6:20-8:50
Professor Michelle Garvey
Meets Liberal Ed requirements for Social Sciences and Technology & Society

This course introduces students to feminist science studies. We will analyze how technology and science produce both liberatory and oppressive relations between and across genders, sexes, sexualities, races, species, abilities, classes, and environments. Our tools are interdisciplinary, and include critical histories, scientific data, cultural artifacts. We use these to embed science in its social, political, and environmental contexts.

Major Questions:

  • How is scientific knowledge created, circulated, and legitimated…and by whom?
  • How does “feminist objectivity” compare & contrast with scientific objectivity?
  • What do contemporary feminisms have to say about “nature/nurture” debates?
  • Environmental, food, & climate justice

Major Topics:

  • Democracy in science
  • Reproductive politics
  • Infections and biofears
  • “Old” eugenics, “new” eugenics
  • Gendered & racial minorities in STEM fields
  • The science of queer sex, gender, and sexualities
  • Posthumanisms & critical animal studies
  • Biocolonialism & biopiracy
  • The “reality” of race


GWSS 4003 – Science, Bodies, Technologies

Spring 2015 – Tuesday, 6:30-8:50
Professor Michelle Garvey

“Toxic Trespass”

This class examines the links among environmental movements, calls for environmental justice, and feminist analysis. Significant scientific data and activist movement testifies to the pervasive, damaging toxins in our lands, water, air, and bodies. The class studies human and nonhuman chemical body burdens and the complex relationships among science, industry, government, and ecology that determine these using feminist environmental theory, feminist science studies, and environmental justice theory, students will distinguish environmental concerns that can enhance socio-environmental health and resilience from those that exacerbate conceptions of historically marginalized races, classes, genders, and species as “toxic.” Tracing the material and ideological “traffic in toxins” can illuminate pathways toward more sustainable relations among humans and ecologies.


Photo credit

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Climate Policy 101 Mon, 01 Dec 2014 21:32:25 +0000 Guest blog written by Fossil Free MN member Kathleen Thurmes


For environmentalists everywhere, the results of the November elections were disappointing if not downright devastating. With a disturbing number of climate change deniers about to hold positions in legislative bodies at all levels of government, including the chair of the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, we are clearly facing an uphill battle toward meaningful policy aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

It is no secret that the companies involved in the extraction, refinement, transportation, sale, and ultimate combustion of fossil fuels have used their power to tamper with policy at all levels: they have inserted themselves into the scientific process by funding climate change-denying research, spent hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase lobbying power, and gave an average of $699,000 to each individual climate denier in the senate. This is all while they present, through massive public relations campaigns, a veneer of social and economic responsibility.

The divestment movement seeks to create a culture change at the highest level in order to break down the industry’s good-guy façade and make political space for more forward-thinking climate-related policies. It calls on individuals and institutions to withdraw their material support of the corporations that are standing in the way of progress and to overtly call them out for their bad behavior.

Which brings us to the November 19th Climate Change Policy 101 event hosted by Fossil Free Minnesota and co-sponsored by Sustainability Education, MN350, and Students for Sustainability. With so much of the impetus for the divestment movement centered around the need to create a political space for more responsible policy regarding our planet’s future, it seemed necessary to start by developing a deeper understanding of the layout of the current playing field. With this in mind, it was natural to invite one of the top leaders in that space, Ellen Anderson, to help us develop that knowledge.

Ellen Anderson, an 18-year veteran of the Minnesota Senate and the current director of the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota, was the force behind the passing of some of our state’s strongest renewable energy legislation to date. Drawing on her experience teaching sustainability and policy classes at the U, she flawlessly condensed what seemed to be an entire semester’s worth of material down to an hour-long presentation.

Accompanied by yummy food and an engaging Q&A session, attendees of the event, who ranged from University students to community members to high school students, learned about significant legislation at the local, state, and federal levels of government. Senator Anderson also sprinkled her presentation with insights from her experience being in the role of policymaker.

Senator Anderson’s presentation reminded the audience of the successes the environmental movement has had in the past as well as the current gap between what is needed and what is politically possible. “the need to address climate change is more urgent than ever,” said Andy Pearson, University alum and organizer with MN350. “The divestment movement is about building the political will to act so that good climate policy and other solutions can be put into place.”

Pizza n Paige

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Day at the Museum: Undergraduate Leaders’ Kickoff Inspires and Connects Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:45:58 +0000 IMG_4400

Why was this thing being held in an art gallery?  Why did I say I’d do this anyway?  Now I’m stuck here for my whole Saturday.  Will I like the other people?  The whispers of doubt floated through a head or two, or fifteen, as a group of UMN undergraduate students representing five different colleges made their way up the stairs to the NASH Gallery at the Regis Center for Art.  They represented the students selected for the Institute on the Environment’s Undergraduate Leaders Program and it was the Kick Off on November 8th, 2014.  They shared in common an interest in sustainability, making a difference, and leadership.


In their hands, they brought a representation of sustainability and unsustainability to put on a timeline. (Well….and a few people had some cakes and cookies too).

Here’s what they said afterwards.

The Undergraduate Leaders’ Kick Off was….

“A new perspective on an old passion.”

“An incredible opportunity to meet fellow undergrads who are passionate about sustainability and social change.  We had the opportunity to collaborate on our ideas for what the next AASHE Conference in 2015 can look like, and, for me, it was valuable to continue the discussion of bringing a social justice lens into sustainability.  Best of all…we all like each other a lot!  I can’t wait for the next one. :)”

 “A breath of fresh air for my soul.”

“My first introduction to on-campus peers who are also passionate about sustainability and activism. I loved it!”

 “Inspiring. The connections and experiences at the Kick Off empowered me to take these messages out into the world and not be afraid to shake up Business as Usual”!


 “Inspiring! It was so cool to learn about other people’s views on sustainability. I’m super excited to grow with this team and learn about how we can make a difference!”

IMG_4403 copy 2

 “Engaging and built social capital.”

 “A unique way of bringing multiple disciplines together to discuss sustainability issues.”


What happened in between?  A lot of team bonding and thought and practice about creative means of communication.  Centering around sustainability as equity and reciprocity, one of the major tools this year is to think about how to effectively communicate and represent sustainability in a way that facilitate it to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary.

Leaders were greeted by the thinking making living exhibit at the NASH.  The exhibit drew on a range of artists and mediums to create a public art platform that required participation and confronted us to “think making and make living.” Through art, it questioned how we are in the world today, how we relate to each other and interact with the ecological, political, and cultural issues that shape our lives.  It immersed the group within creative forms of expression on sustainability, equity, diversity.


They made their way to a project space located within the exhibit itself. It was not a museum that shushed people into a quiet observance, but one which encouraged engagement. That was good since a gurgle of talking and laughter starting flowing from the group almost immediately as they shared out on who they were, made goofy grunting noises while throwing around an imaginary ball, and did some team building.

“I appreciated having the time to get know each other,” Miah Ulysse, a student in Food Systems and Leadership.

Flash forward to Representation.  Question: How can we be creative communicators and represent a vision of sustainability that is inclusive and diverse?  Methodology: As one of our activities at Kick-Off, we will be creating a History of Unsustainability/Sustainability Timeline to help us contextualize sustainability as well as introduce each of us to each others’ views on sustainability.  Come with a “representation” of an event, invention, social change, person, power shift, etc. that you feel is important to both the history of unsustainability/sustainability and your vision of sustainability.

As each of the students explained their representations, everyone brought something a little different to the table.

“Is it good?  Or is it bad?  Sustainability is often not black and white.” John Thompson of HECUA said as he thought through his presentation on several inventions that have impacted our past, present, and future.

Exploration.  Take time explore the gallery to see how public artists are engaging sustainability.  Then translate that to your own art project and work.


“I was looking at Seitu Jones’s Self Portrait and Seed on Drawing and saw they were connected.  He was the seed and the seed was him.  It was like an ah ha. We are the seeds and they are us.  We’re connected.  Sustainability, I am in you.  Sustainability is us,” said Kyle Samejima, a student in environmental communication, as she thought about how to integrate some of the ideas on thinking making living into her own work.

Application.  Apply these creative thoughts to reality.  What do you think should be in the call for proposals for the 2015 AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference that will be hosted in Minneapolis should include.  Students thought outside the box to come with a wide range of ideas that will go to the conference planners.

 “Being surrounded by art and positive energy today was really refreshing,” commented Beth Mercer-Taylor, UMN Sustainability Studies Minor Advisor to sum things up.

Thanks for the great time.

If you have questions about the Undergraduate Leaders Program, contact Kate Flick at

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ACARA Spring 2015 Courses Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:30:23 +0000 Acara guys

Do you care about a problem in the world? Do you want to travel? Do you want to make a positive impact in 2015?Getting started means joining an Acara course. Acara is the University of Minnesota’s impact entrepreneurship program, shaping leaders and ventures for global impact. Whether you are a grad student or an undergrad interested in solving problems related to environment, health, economy, infrastructure, or inequality, these classes are for you. Apply now for our Spring 2015 courses here.

Acara Spring 2015 Opportunities:CE 5570 – May-term India Discovery Course – May 2015
What: In this 3-week, 3-credit May-term study abroad course to Bangalore, India, we’ll explore solutions to societal and environmental challenges (e.g. waste, water, energy, agriculture, health and livelihoods) through entrepreneurs, local leaders, and communities.When: May 18-June 8, 2015

In the course you will:

  • Discover Bangalore
  • Interact with entrepreneurs
  • Enjoy India’s cuisine and diverse culture
  • Explore approaches to development challenges
  • Design your own venture solution

CE 5571 – Acara Global Venture Design: Grand Challenges – Spring 2015
What: The Acara Challenge course is an interdisciplinary, global, entrepreneurial, experiential, project-based 4-credit impact venture design course in which students create solutions to grand challenges in MN (e.g. water, energy, agriculture, health).

When: Spring 2015, Fridays 9am–noon

In the course you will:

  • Identify a grand challenge locally
  • Design an impact venture solution
  • Collaborate on an interdisciplinary project team
  • Be mentored by business professionals
  • Pitch your venture for funding

CE 5572 – Apply for Acara Social Venture Launchpad course in J-Term
What: The Acara Launchpad course is a 2-credit impact venture design course in which UMN students develop their existing ideas for venture solutions to social and environmental challenges.

When: January-Term 2015 (Jan 12-16).

In the course you will:

  • Refine your idea for an impact venture solution
  • Work with business professionals
  • Meet impact entrepreneurs and investors in MN
  • Pitch your venture for funding

NURS 5800: Sustainable Development in Africa: Entrepreneurial Solutions with Ugandan Communities 

What: This 3-credit course is an interdisciplinary, global, entrepreneurial, experiential, project-based course in which students create venture solutions to One Health challenges in Uganda with Ugandan students.

When: Spring 2015, day/time TBD

See or contact Brian Bell at for details.

Note: All courses are open to upper level undergrads and grad students from all majors. No prerequisites are required. See to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are due by December 21, 2014. Acara is a series of courses and incubation actions to educate future leaders and develop impactful venture solutions focused on societal and environmental change in the U.S. and abroad.

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U of M Students Storm AASHE Conference in Portland Mon, 10 Nov 2014 21:42:09 +0000 IMG_1207

Madeline Giefer

Last week five students from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities jetted off to Portland to exchange ideas for campus sustainability with students, staff, and faculty at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) annual conference. AASHE holds the largest conference of its kind in the world, and this year it drew members from every state and twelve countries on six continents. Simone Childs-Walker, Tyler Redden, Bailey Rockwell, Jeff Tierney, and Madeline Giefer represented Sustainability Education during many workshops, roundtable discussions, and networking sessions. Out of the experience they brought back plenty of new ideas from these sessions as well as presentations by high-profile sustainability advocates.

Anna Lappé

Anna Lappé closes out the Student Summit with an address on food systems

Sunday was dedicated to student action with the AASHE Student Summit, where students participated in workshops on student engagement. From leadership theory to strategizing specific campus initiatives, there was something to support the work of any student activist. The Student Summit closed with a keynote address by Anna Lappé, world-renowned author and educator on sustainable food systems. She raised questions of health inequities, environmental risk, the implications of advertising to children, and corporate power in the American democratic system.

The full conference officially kicked off with another keynote presentation by Annie Leonard, creator of the Story of Stuff campaign. She argued for “busting out of the environmental silo” to bring more disciplines into the sustainability movement. She also mapped out human behavior in terms of our “consumer muscle,” which is continuously rewarded, and our “citizen muscle,” which has atrophied. Leonard believes a collective decision to “flex” our citizen muscles is necessary to “get corporations out of our democracy and the citizens back in” and ultimately achieve a sustainable economy and society. Though Leonard is more optimistic than many about our ability to change for the better, she nonetheless delivered a stern ultimatum: “Are we going to change by design? Or are we going to change by disaster?”

Tyler finds a friend outside. Portland's animals may be as friendly as its people.

Tyler finds a friend outside. Portland’s animals may be as friendly as its people.

On Monday the conference continued with more sessions on curriculum design, student leadership, and enhancing a university’s role as a sustainability leader and exemplar. There was also a poster session with more than one hundred presenters, which drew so much engagement the session was running strong well past its one-hour time slot.

Monday closed with an address by sustainability and diversity advocate Marcelo Bonta. Sporting bright orange pants, Bonta explained the value of “color” in his life as a metaphor for cultural diversity. Bonta grew up in a multi-racial family and now has one of his own. Early in his environmental career, he had encountered blatantly racist remarks from coworkers and felt a constant sense of exclusion in the field, which later inspired him to found the Center for Diversity and the Environment and Young Environmental Professionals of Color. While he now has a much more positive outlook on this issue, he worries the environmental movement may not be able to incorporate the rising percentage of minorities in the United States, especially children of color who are expected to make up half the U.S. child population by 2019. “In order to be for all, we have to be with all,” he said in his appeal for more active incorporation of people of color into environmental organizations.

The conference closed on Tuesday with a closing presentation by EcoDistricts founder Rob Bennett. EcoDistricts works to heal communities and neighborhoods that are victims of environmental injustice. The organization focuses on “urban renewal,” or working sustainability and community building into urban planning. Bennett believes strongly in the potential of community and campus organizers. “We are the disruptors!” he told the crowd. Bennett’s speech nicely tied together the conference’s themes of university responsibility, community and student action, and diversity and justice within the environmental movement.

The Oregon Convention Center was full of info on proper waste sorting.

The Oregon Convention Center was full of info on proper waste sorting.

Medical student Simone Childs-Walker had great success connecting with other sustainability enthusiasts at the conference, which she believes is critical in her sustainability work. “Place matters. Stories matter. Relationships matter. It is our work to meet people where they are and to be present, humble, and grateful.”

Next year we are fortunate enough to have the AASHE conference in Minneapolis. Organizing such a large international event is a monumental task, so if you are interested in getting involved, contact Madeline Giefer at

Sustainability Education was able to send so many students thanks to a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation through Student Unions and Activities.   

Jeff takes some time to enjoy the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Jeff takes some time to enjoy the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.coca-cola-foundation-logo-604



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