Tag Archive for sustainability

Sustainability Workshop Sparks Discussions, New Ideas

Sustainability Across the Curriculum, a Jan. 23 workshop organized by Wesleyan’s Sustainability Office and the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, provided faculty and instructors with the opportunity to discover ways to integrate sustainability into a variety of courses across academic disciplines.

The workshop featured a panel highlighting work by faculty who participated in the first year of Sustainability Across the Curriculum and had integrated sustainability into their own courses, followed by small-group sessions offering brainstorming opportunities. The focus of the SATC program is to amend an existing course to include sustainability, explained Jennifer Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director, “The groups were divided into individuals who are early in this journey (not sure where to start) and those with an idea but looking to clarify details.” Kleindienst was there to facilitate discussions, along with Professor of Earth and Environmental Science Suzanne O’Connell, faculty coordinator for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, and assistant Ori Tannenbaum ’20.

O’Connell reports that involvement in this initiative has broadened her understanding of sustainability: “I now see it as an intricate network of ideas and actions that reaches almost every facet of life and society.”

Kleindienst heard a key phrase several times: “‘I never thought of doing it that way!’ It’s my job to get people to say that about what they do in the classroom and in daily life.”

She notes that the full program includes this workshop along with four seminars later in the semester, and then course integration over the next year. Following that, the faculty cohort reconvenes to discuss their experiences. Kleindienst invites the community to view the program website or contact her or Suzanne O’Connell with questions or for further information.

Photos of the workshop are below (photos by Cynthia Rockwell):

The event's faculty panel offered information on ways they've approached sustainability issues within their own curriculum. Panelists included Tony Hatch, associate professor of Science in Society, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of sociology; Jan Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Elise Springer, Chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

The event’s faculty panel offered information on ways they’ve approached sustainability issues within their own curriculum. Panelists included past Sustainability Across the Curriculum participants Tony Hatch, associate professor of science in society, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of sociology; Jan Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; and Elise Springer, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Hatch noted he had pursued the subject of sustainability in terms of biomonitoring—that is, what elements are now in the human body that were not found there in previous eras. Naegele spoke about adding a module to the course on brain development that considered the effect of neurotoxins on that process. And Springer noted that sustainability is not a goal that can be fully achieved, but a genre of critique that evolves as we understand the ecological complexity of our practices.

At right, Jennifer Kleindienst, Wesleyan’s sustainability director, facilitates a group discussion. (Rachael Barlow, associate director for assessment, is at left.)

Ying Jia Tan, assistant professor of history, whose research focuses on the history of energy in modern China, participated in the brainstorming session.

Rachael Barlow, Wesleyan’s first associate director of assessment, who teaches the courses associated with the university’s new integrative learning project, also joined the seminar as a facilitator, offering examples of sustainability courses designed at other institutions that have proven successful.

Facilitator Suzanne O’Connell (right), professor of earth and environmental sciences and an early adapter to introducing sustainability concepts in her classes, shares teaching techniques that she has found effective in approaching the topic.

John Cooley, who has taught The Art of Academic Writing: The Environmental Movement in American History, raised questions on the seemingly inevitable temporal lag between when companies put a product on the market, scientists discover its harmful attributes and regulators then try to catch up, setting restrictions on the use of the product. (Paula Blue, instructional technologist at CPI, is at left.)

Constance Leidy (right), associate professor of mathematics, noted that she found it important to help students visualize extremely large numbers in order to contemplate the effects of exponential growth in population versus available resources. (From left to right, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental science; Peggy Carey Best, director of service learning and visiting assistant professor of sociology; and William Johnston, professor of history, East Asian studies, science in society, and environmental studies.

Carpooling Matching Event Feb. 20

Whether you live in Middletown or elsewhere in the region, commuting to work is often time-consuming, stressful and costly. Setting up a carpool—an arrangement between people to travel together in a single vehicle—is a great way to save money, connect with coworkers and cut your carbon footprint, explains Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst.

The Wesleyan Sustainability Office, in conjunction with CT Rides (a service of CT DOT), is hosting an Employee Commuter Event in February for Wesleyan faculty and staff. This will be a chance to meet other faculty and staff who live near you and potentially find a carpool buddy. CT Rides helps commuters find the best way to get to work or school and offers information and resources for travel options throughout Connecticut.

The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 20, in Usdan 110. RSVP by Friday, Feb. 16, at bit.ly/ctridesrsvp. Contact Jen Kleindienst at jkleindienst@wesleyan.edu with any questions.

Yohe Speaks on Climate Change at Local Community Center

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

Gary Yohe spoke about climate change at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center on Nov. 15.

On Nov. 15, Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, delivered a talk on climate change at the Glastonbury (Conn.) Riverfront Community Center. It was sponsored by the Land Heritage Coalition of Glastonbury, Inc.— a non-profit corporation whose mission is to support farming, open space preservation, and water and wetlands protection—as its annual educational initiative.

“As part of our mission, we feel it important to help folks in Connecticut understand the issue of climate change, what the local impacts are, and what we can do in this state,” explained David Ahlgren, LHC co-president. “There’s a lot of hype, spin, misunderstanding, and politics around this very important issue. We’re planning a series of events on this topic, and are starting off with Dr. Yohe, who is eminently equipped to help us understand the science and sift out the spin.”

In the talk, which was free and open to the public, Yohe brought his expertise to address climate change from a scientific perspective, and took questions from the audience.

Fall Harvest Celebrated at Pumpkin Festival

The College of the Environment hosted its 13th Annual Pumpkin Festival Oct. 14 at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm to celebrate the fall harvest.

The Pumpkin Festival provides an opportunity for the Wesleyan and local communities to learn about local organic farming and the politics of food. The event included farm tours, a farmer’s market, a bake sale, live music, face and pumpkin painting, free veggie burgers, arts and crafts, bulb planting, and more. Pumpkin Fest was held in conjunction with Campus Sustainability Week.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19 and Will Barr ’18)

WILD Wes Celebrates 5 Years of West College Courtyard Growth

This summer, the student group WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan University) is celebrating the maturity of flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees seeded and planted more than five years ago.

This summer, the student group WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan University) is celebrating the maturity of flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees seeded and planted more than five years ago.

In 2010, the university offered WILD Wes the West College Courtyard, a .75 acre parcel of sloping, sandy land. After two years of prepping the soil for a permaculture site, students planted their first trees, rye, buckwheat and perennial rain garden at the site.

In 2010, the university offered WILD Wes the West College Courtyard, a .75 acre parcel of sloping, sandy land. After two years of prepping the soil for a permaculture site, students planted their first trees, rye, buckwheat and a perennial rain garden at the site.

Farmers’ Market Opens at Long Lane Farm

Students tending Wesleyan's Long Lane Farm are now selling their produce at a weekly farmers' market.

Students tending Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm are now selling their produce at a weekly farmers’ market. Long Lane Farm was founded in 2003 by a group of students seeking to provide a practical solution to local hunger problems and build a strong connection with the Wesleyan and Middletown communities. Seven student summer interns currently run the farm.

Students tending Wesleyan's Long Lane Farm are now selling their produce at a weekly farmers' market. From 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, members of the Wesleyan community can purchase freshly harvested vegetables and other garden goodies at the farm located at 243 Long Lane.

From 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, members of the Wesleyan community can purchase freshly harvested vegetables and other garden goodies at the farm, located at 243 Long Lane. Pictured are turnips for sale at the June 20 market.

Wesleyan Earns Silver Rating for 2016 Sustainability Performance

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (STARS) recently awarded Wesleyan with a Silver rating for its 2016 sustainability performance.

Wesleyan completed its first STARS report in 2013 and earned a Silver rating with a score of 53.06. Over the past three years, Wesleyan developed a Sustainability Action Plan to address many of the areas of improvement found in the 2013 report, and has increased its score to 58.11. Sixty-five points are needed to obtain the Gold rating, and 85 points are needed to obtain the Platinum rating.

Wesleyan’s commitment to sustainability began in the 1980s with the creation of a recycling program. This commitment expanded over the years, explained Sustainability Director Jen Kleindienst, to include addressing climate change, waste diversion, energy reduction, water conservation, integrating sustainability into the curriculum, promoting sustainability in co-curricular activities, and changing purchasing, building construction and grounds practices.

“Wesleyan began tracking its carbon footprint in 2007 and we’re continuously working to make significant progress toward a more sustainable future and meet our 2050 carbon neutrality target,” Kleindienst said.

Wesleyan Takes Action on Climate Change

Wesleyan University’s solar panels produce enough energy to power 164 houses.

In recent weeks, Wesleyan has been taking a public stand to fight climate change. President Michael Roth was one of more than 80 university presidents who, together with mayors, governors and business leaders, are preparing to submit a plan to the United Nations pledging to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets outlined in the Paris climate accord, according to The New York Times. This came after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the international agreement.

Roth told The Chronicle of Higher Education: “I think it’s quite extraordinary that supporting a basic commitment to lessen a source of pollution in the world is seen as a particularly strong civic or political act. At a time when the White House is promoting an anti-scientific assault on public policy and research, it’s really important for universities and especially university leadership to defend the values that are necessary for us to be institutions of learning.”

Roth also said that Wesleyan had already divested from coal and made efforts to make its campus more energy-efficient. In May, Wesleyan drafted a building-sustainability policy that establishes how the campus will choose building materials and use energy and water in ways that reduce its carbon footprint.

The Hartford Courant also covered Wesleyan’s efforts. “I think it’s incumbent upon states and businesses and universities and other organizations to do whatever we can to pollute less [and] develop more sustainable economic models for the future of the planet,” Roth said.

Roth also recently joined 29 other college and university presidents in endorsing carbon pricing as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, according to The Middletown Press. These presidents, who form the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative, signed a letter calling on state and federal lawmakers to enact a carbon price at the state and federal levels.

Jen Kleindienst, director of Wesleyan’s Office of Sustainability, told the Press, “It stems from inaction during the current (presidential) administration, but even during the previous administration. A lot of sustainability professionals are concerned that we, as a country and as a community, are not moving quickly enough and that could mean really dire consequences for the planet.”

 

Wesleyan Dining ‘Food Recovery Verified’ for Donating Excess Food to Shelter

frvThe Food Recovery Network recently named Wesleyan’s Dining Services “Food Recovery Verified” for donating unsold surplus food to a local charity.

The Food Recovery Verified (FRV) program recognizes and rewards food businesses of any type that are working to fight waste and feed people through food recovery.

Now in its sixth year, Wesleyan’s student-run Food Rescue organization donates its unsold food from Usdan’s Marketplace, Summerfields and Pi Cafe to the Eddy Shelter in Middletown, which provides emergency shelter and meals for single adults. Food Rescue is an Office of Community Service program under the supervision the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships.

Lydia Ottaviano ’17 and Lili Kadets ’17 have co-coordinated this group since spring semester 2014. Throughout the academic year, 

Roth Calls on Government Leaders to Enact a Carbon Price as Climate Change Solution

In a letter released May 8, President Michael Roth joined 29 other college and university presidents from across the country in endorsing carbon pricing for its economy-wide approach to reducing greenhouse emissions that cause climate change. The letter calls on state and federal lawmakers to proactively work to enact a carbon price at the state and federal level. Roth was one of three leaders, together with the presidents of Swarthmore and Dickinson colleges, to first sign the letter back in February.

“As leaders of higher education institutions, we call upon our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of current and future generations by putting a price on carbon,” the letter reads. “We work to prepare our students for thriving futures, over which climate change casts a dark shadow of uncertainty. Putting a price on carbon pollution is an indispensable step we can take to effectively combat climate change.”

The complete letter can be found here.

The Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative is led by Our Climate, a youth-led organization dedicated to empowering the next generation of climate leaders. Our Climate co-leads the #PutAPriceOnIt campaign with the National Geographic documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, and partners with Citizens’ Climate Education to recruit, train, and support student leaders across the country to advocate for carbon pricing.

“At Wesleyan, we place a high priority on reducing our own carbon footprint to do our part to address climate change,” said Roth. “A national price on carbon can be an effective tool to address climate change on a broad scale.  Wesleyan is will develop an internal price on carbon to better address the environmental impact of our own energy intensive projects.”

This summer, Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst and Facilities Business Manager Jeff Murphy will be developing an internal method of accounting for the carbon footprint of high-energy-consuming Facilities projects.  This internal mechanism will set up a “shadow” price on carbon emissions from projects as a line item in projects’ lifecycle cost analyses, essentially proceeding internally as if national carbon pricing exists.  For example, if a project results in a 50-ton carbon emissions increase, and an internal price was set at $40/ton (price is yet to be determined), the shadow cost on carbon for that project would be $2,000.  This follows the strategy established in Wesleyan’s 2016 Sustainability Action Plan to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by providing the economic case for higher carbon footprint initiatives, and will prepare Wesleyan for the possibility of future national carbon pricing.

Appadurai ’00 Speaks on Food Justice and Sustainability at 2017 Americas Forum

Alok Appadurai ’00, co-founder of Fed by Threads, spoke on "Food Justice and Sustainability" at the 2017 Americas Forum, April 28. (Photo by rebecca Goldfarb Terry '19)

Alok Appadurai ’00, founder of GoodElephant.org, spoke on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the 2017 Americas Forum, April 28. (Photo by Reebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

Alok Appadurai ’00, co-founder of Fed by Threads, the first sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store in the United States that has used a portion of its profits to feed over half a million meals to Americans in need, offered the keynote speech on  “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the 2017 Americas Forum, held at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on April 28. He has recently founded GoodElephant.org, designed to create a global “herd” that will work on changing the world by nurturing compassion and empathy to promote social and environmental reform—and his book, Good Elephant, will be published later this year. Appadurai’s post-Wesleyan career highlights the interests he explored at Wesleyan, where he built his own concentration in American Studies that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment, and gender/class issues.

Appadurai’s talk “The Compassion Famine: Exploring The Unspoken Solutions To Hunger In America,” offered solutions to end what he calls “the compassion famine” and bring about food justice. The process begins, he says, with each person imagining a world without hunger. “While a world without hunger seems remote, we first need to each hold the idea as a possibility, before we could make this come true,” he says. He also asked his audience to “change what we imagine the face of hunger to look like.” Not just a problem for the developing nations, food insecurity is a problem that forty million people in the United States face. Yet—”We also throw out nearly 40 percent of our food—which goes to landfills and causes greenhouse gasses,” he adds.

Center for the Americas Hosts its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability”

 Photo: Jade Beall.

Alok Appadurai ’00 (Photo by Jade Beall)

On April 28, the Center for the Americas will host its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall at 2:30 p.m. The keynote address will be given by Alok Appadurai ’00. Appadurai is the the founder of Fed by Threads, a sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store that has fed over half a million meals to Americans in need. He also recently founded GoodElephant.org, a global network that aims to promote social and environmental reform by nurturing compassion and empathy.

His time at Wesleyan helped to inform his current projects. As a student, he majored in American studies fashioning his own concentration that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment and gender/class issues.

After the keynote, three scholars on a panel will present talks on food Justice and agricultural sustainability.  Elizabeth Hoover, the Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brown University, will give the talk, “From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds’; Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty Through American Indian Community Gardening Projects.” Following her, Brian Donahue, associate professor of American environmental studies at Brandeis University, will present his “Woodlands, Farmlands, and Communities: Visions for New England’s Future.”

Wesleyan’s Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history, will conclude the panel with “Seed Saving in Economies of Scale: Some Questions about Sovereignty and International Governance.”