Sustainability: across campus and across curriculum
Nearly 40 members of the campus community were given the opportunity to learn and share ideas by attending a three-day workshop on sustainability, June 3-5. This project was supported by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Sustainability Across All Curricula program (FEIN 00D06912-0).
“The workshop was a great way to make new connections across campus,” says Elizabeth Graves, director for corporate and foundation relations. “It brought staff and faculty together in a way that doesn’t usually happen during the school year.”
Lead by Angela Poe, director of sustainability at Transylvania University, the general themes of the workshop were global dimension, local dimension and taking action. The goals were three-fold: to inform and motivate key employees of the value and utility of a sustainability perspective to all campus decisions and operations; to engage employees from all areas of campus in learning and discussion of an important institutional priority; and to build a cadre of advocates that identify and pursue energy and materials conservation opportunities.
“I loved taking part in the sustainability workshop—it helped me think about the larger ideas surrounding sustainability, while thinking about ways to apply those ideas to our work and lives,” says Mindy Wilson, assistant director for employer relations and internships. “I was particularly impressed by what Centre is already doing to reduce our energy and waste, and I am excited to be part of what we might imagine doing in the future.”
The learning opportunities also featured field trips, including a canoe excursion to the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Station near Harrodsburg, Ky. In 2007, more than three-fourths of Centre students voted for the creation of a Green Fund, an initiative that requires students to pay an annual $20 surcharge on their tuition to purchase renewable energy credits from this hydroelectric station.
“As a student, I was only vaguely aware that the Green Fund existed, but I knew nothing about what it was used for,” says Elizabeth Frank ’13, student life coordinator. “Having the opportunity to learn about the renewable energy credits Centre receives from the hydroelectric station, and to go and see it first-hand, opened my eyes to the effort Centre is making to be more sustainable. I think it is our job to educate students more about Centre’s sustainable practices so that they can get on board and improve our efforts even more.”
A creek walk and water testing in Clark’s Run was lead by Rose-Marie Roessler, lab coordinator for Centre’s biology program and volunteer with Water Watch and the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge. Over the years, Centre has played an active role in the effort to improve water quality in Clark’s Run.
Daily speakers included Jennifer Kirchner, executive director of the Danville/Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, who discussed the ongoing expansion of community trails; local food production with John-Mark Hack, co-owner of Marksbury Farm and director of the Local Food Alliance, and John Wyatt, manager of Danville’s Farmers Market; and a campus tour highlighting Centre’s sustainability efforts led by Wayne King, director of facilities management, and Preston Miles, Walkup Professor of Chemistry and chair of the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee.
“I have a fair amount of anxiety about the damage created by our consumption and waste,” Graves says. “It was encouraging to me to be with others who also want to channel their concern into positive energy that leads to effective change. Sustainability has got to be a campus-wide conversation, and each of us is going to need to take an active role in implementing steps that highlight all the good that is possible.”
During the workshop it was announced that support from the Environmental Protection Agency would provide funding for individuals or groups interested in working on their own campus sustainability projects.
“I’m looking forward to applying for the additional funding,” Wilson says. “I’m just having a hard time trying to decide on just one initiative to help put into practice! I hope that our work this summer will spur future interest and action on the part of everyone on campus to make Centre, Danville and our place in the world more sustainable.”
by Cindy Long
Pictured above: Wayne King, facilities management director, discusses improvements to Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts.