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By Adrien Tofighi, Program Assistant, Second Nature
(Review the symposium agenda, or download a PDF Summary of this post).

ACUPCC Logo

The 2012 ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium took place at Agnes Scott College, November 7-8th, 2012. ACUPCC Regional Symposiums are working sessions to foster dialogue and collaboration among ACUPCC signatories who are facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions.

The conference garnered participation from 45 colleges and universities, representing states throughout the Southeast, achieving cross-institutional dialogue, knowledge exchange, and the creation of new solutions to Climate Action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues. This conference marked the third regional symposium hosted by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

David E. Shi, President Emeritus, Furman University

Opening Speakers

After a warm welcome by Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss, David E. Shi, President Emeritus of Furman University, opened the symposium on Wednesday evening. The keynote presentation, entitled “Sustainability in the South: An Oxymoron?” addressed some of the region’s most pressing questions regarding conservation, sustainability, and climate leadership.

Dr. Shi posed the questions: How can conservation thrive in a conservative culture, and how can higher education be the vanguard of cultural change? His talk shared statistics on the southeastern colleges and universities progress on climate and sustainability initiatives, and reviewed the need for campuses to move from singular sustainability projects to a centralized “hub” for large-scale transformational change.

Symposium Sessions

World Café: From Planning to Action

Participants kicked off the first full day of the conference with dynamic discussion and planning during the World Café, which allowed for reflections on leveraging campus resources in order to implement climate action planning solutions. Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU, the session focused around key themes related to communicating and engaging with the campus community.

Campus Sustainability Case Studies

Case studies from eight different institutions in three concurrent sessions were presented as a means to address the topically and geographically relevant problems that many campuses face, and share how these issues are being dealt with.

The first track, Financing, highlighted three institutions from North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky. A team from Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) including Cassidy Cannon, Sustainability Director, Robert Gaines, Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Charles Hall, Director of Design & Construction, Dennis Leary, Facilities Director, and Kent Anson, Vice President of Higher Education for Honeywell Building Solutions presented on the campus’s experience leveraging a comprehensive energy savings program to address deferred maintenance, energy costs, and sustainability goals. Howard Wertheimer, Director of Capital Planning & Space also discussed the lessons learned in building the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (CNES), and Mitchell H. Payne, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs at the University of Louisville provided an overview of financing energy efficiency through energy savings performance contracting.

Hands-on learning at Furman University’s David E. Shi Center for Sustainability

In the second track, Sustainable Food and Community Engagement, Furman University’s Katherine Kransteuber, Program Coordinator at the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability shared the interdisciplinary faculty-student research initiative designed to study and further sustainable agriculture on campus and in the Carolinas. Stephanie Sims, Implementation Coordinator at Office of Sustainability at the University of Florida provided an overview of UF’s broad approach to involving stakeholders and addressing challenges and opportunities in food systems through partnerships and innovative programming, which included strategies such as “Food for Thought” outreach campaigns and University extension efforts and the Office of Sustainability at the regional and state level.

The third track, Addressing the Challenge of Coal began with a presentation by Susan Kidd, Director of Sustainability at Agnes Scott College, discussing the institutional challenge of cheap coal, and the college’s focus on funding options for energy efficiency and renewable energy,. Matt Earnest, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at Bridgemont Community and Technical College showcased how the institution’s Sustainability Institute is bringing together multiple organizations with varying viewpoints to promote sustainability through workforce education, academic enhancement, and community development. Gordie Bennett, Sustainability Manager at the University of Tennessee Knoxville also provided examples of their institutional path to a cleaner campus by converting the nearly 50-year old UT Knoxville Steam Plant to 100% natural gas and fuel oil, with a focus on the decision making process that weighed the social and economic implications of going coal free in the Tennessee Valley.

Lunch with the President’s Panel

Second Nature President David Hales moderated the President’s Panel which included Elizabeth Kiss from Agnes Scott College (GA), Kenneth Peacock, Chancellor of Appalachian State University (NC), and Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spelman College (GA), in a dialogue on how higher education in the Southeast can lead the way to a clean, green, and sustainable economy. Participants followed the discussion with a question and answer session on the challenges facing presidential leadership in supporting sustainability initiatives on campus.

Sustainability as a Pedagogical Process

To conclude the event, Tom Kelly, Director of the Sustainability Academy at the University of New Hampshire, facilitated a session to remind attendees of the broader goal of “educating for sustainability.” With the campus as a learning platform, every building, the food eaten, classes attended, grounds and landscaping, etc. “count as an opportunity to cultivate a global sustainability outlook.” This session presented a pedagogical process that considers building case studies from campus to guide the learning community to ask good questions, investigate, and find sustainable solutions.

Summary: Collaborating for Success

The ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium attendees created new strategies for climate leadership, shared the steps necessary for putting a plan to action in a region where sustainability can be challenging, and learned from both campus and industry leaders that the work they do is more vital than ever.

By providing tangible resources, contacts, and ideas to support both Presidents and their staff’s efforts on campus, with a regional focus highlighting the unique issues associated with electricity rates, government policies, energy supply, and public opinion of the region, institutions were empowered to create beneficial partnerships that will support their mutual development in the coming years. Participating sustainability teams made significant headway in overcoming the obstacles to fulfilling the Commitment, and creating lasting regional connections.

84 college and university, industry, and non-profit representatives participated in the Symposium, with attendance from Presidents and Chancellors, sustainability coordinators, facilities directors, faculty, students, and ACUPCC Corporate Sponsors.  Click here to view the list of attendees.

Thank You!

Second Nature would like to thank the staff of Agnes Scott College for their partnership in hosting the event, and Aramark for providing food for the event.  And a special thanks to all attendees who found exciting new opportunities for creating and implementing their Climate Action Plans, as well as creative solutions to the challenges of creating a sustainable campus.  Well done!

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For more information on upcoming ACUPCC events, visit presidentsclimatecommitment.org/news-events

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By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(Download the symposium agenda, or a PDF version of this summary here.)

ACUPCC LogoThe Southwest Regional Collaborative Symposium – the second regionally focused conference hosted by Second Nature and the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment – took place at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona March 1st– 2nd, 2012.  ACUPCC Regional Symposiums focus on fostering collaboration among ACUPCC signatories facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions.  With attendance by 38 universities and organizations throughout the Southwest, participants sparked cross-institutional dialogue and solutions to Climate Action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues.

Keynote Speaker

Diana Liverman, Co-Director,
University of Arizona Institute of the Environment

Sharing highlights of her research focusing on the science of human dimensions of global environmental change – including vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy, mitigation and justice – Diana Liverman opened the conference by underscoring the need for leadership in higher education on sustainability. Diana is a fellow in the Environmental Change Institute and member of editorial boards for Global Environmental ChangeAnnals of the Association of American Geographers, and Climatic Change. She currently chairs the Science Advisory Committee for the ICSU Global Environmental Change and Food Systems program (GECAFS) and served on the UK Human Dimensions of Global Change Committee.

Symposium Sessions

World Café: From Planning to Action

Participants discuss taking climate action planning to the next strategic level during the World Café.

Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU this high-energy discussion focused on creating campus engagement with the Climate Action Plan as a living and strategic institutional document. Participants delved into dynamic planning and long-term visioning during the World Café, reflecting on the CAP planning process, how to move the campus forward by assigning priorities, key stakeholders, and core values, and engaging with regional partnerships and initiatives.

Sustainability as a Pedagogical Process

Southwest Regional Presidential Panel. From left: Michael Crow, Arizona State University, Jan Gehler, Scottsdale Community College; John D. Haeger, Northern Arizona University; and David J. Schmidly, University of New Mexico.

ACUPCC signatories have committed to take actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students. This session identified best practices for integrating sustainability into the curriculum, how to engage diverse stakeholders, measuring outcomes, and applying the concept of “group intelligence” to curriculum development. Teams of participants each developed their own pedagogical approach to achieving the learning outcome of creating a global sustainability outlook. Facilitated by Cindy Thomashow, Education Manager, AASHE and Tom Kelly, Director Sustainability Academy, University of New Hampshire.

Presidents’ Panel

Presidents from institutions in the region joined in a dialogue on how higher education in the Southwest can lead the way to a clean, green and sustainable economy. Moderated by the President of Arizona State University Michael Crow, the panel included Jan Gehler, President of Scottsdale Community College, John Haeger, President of Northern Arizona University, and David Schmidly, President of the University of New Mexico.

Conversation centered on the innovation opportunities inherent in achieving carbon neutrality on college and university campuses. President Gehler remarked: “Whether president, vice president or member of the faculty, we must model the way,” a sentiment expanded by President Crow who stated, “I am a teacher. That’s what I do. But I think more important than that, the institutions themselves have to teach.”

The panel also discussed the positive returns of sustainability as a sound business model in an era of budget reductions coupled with enrollment growth.  President Haeger underscored this idea by reminding the audience, and panel, that infusing a sustainability emphasis into the administrative structure – whether it is building green buildings or buying fuel efficient cars – is another way presidents can lead in creating a sustainable economy.

Institutional Case Studies

Three distinct educational tracks included case studies from institutions across the southwest.

The Energy Efficiency track highlighted Energy Conservation at Alamo Colleges with John Strybos, Alamo Colleges, Using the Design-Build Approach to Meet Energy Reduction Goals with Allen Shiroma, University of California, Irvine and Shaun Ayvazi, Siemens, and financing techniques from Norm Tarbox of Weber State University, who presented Funding Energy Efficiency Projects through a Green Revolving Loan Fund.

The second track, on Sustainability in the Curriculum included Regional Sustainability Policy and Workforce Development Efforts at Santa Fe Community College by Randy Grissom from Santa Fe Community College (NM), Growing Sustainability Literacy at Northern Arizona University, from the Seeds of the Ponderosa Project to the Global Learning Initiative with Rod Parnell of Northern Arizona University, and The Odyssey of Creating a Sustainable Campus at UNM: Assets, Barriers, and Strategies with Bruce T. Milne at the University of New Mexico.

Track three, Sustainable Resource Management, featured waste, water, and food strategies with Nick Brown of Arizona State University and Pat DeRueda from Waste Management presenting Roadmap to Zero Solid Waste, Joe Abraham, University of Arizona, sharing research on Sustainable Water Management, and a highlight of a community college student-centered Sustainable Food Systems Program by Shannon Corona of Rio Salado College.

Summary: Collaborating for Success

Bringing a regional focus unique to the demands of Southwestern higher education, symposium attendees created strategies and solutions for addressing the key issues facing schools, their staff, faculty, students, and administration.

The words of keynote speakers, session case study leaders, and participants highlighted the role of every individual working towards campus sustainability as a “teacher” of the vital work in moving higher education towards a just and sustainable future.

110 college and university, industry, and non-profit representatives participated in the Symposium, with attendance from Presidents and Chancellors, sustainability coordinators, facilities directors, faculty, students, and ACUPCC Corporate Sponsors. The conference was held at Arizona State University in the historic Old Main Building at the Tempe campus.

Thank You!

Second Nature would like to thank the staff of Arizona State University for their partnership in hosting the event, Aramark for providing sustainable and delicious food for the event, and all attendees, who found exciting new opportunities for creating and implementing their Climate Action Plans, and creative solutions to the challenges of creating a sustainable campus.

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