Author: Mortensen, Betsy

Environmental Involvement Fair on March 30, 2023

Join the Office of Sustainability and UConn’s environmental student organizations to see how you can get involved with saving the planet! Joining a club is a great way to learn, make friends, and take action for nature. Come say hello!

New Date: Thursday, March 30, 2023

Time: Event is open from 3pm-5pm

Place: Atrium of Biology & Physics Building (by the giant ant!)

biology physics building on map

 

*The Green Careers Panel will be in the lecture hall right next to the fair, starting at 5:30. Stick around to network and learn more about careers in sustainability*

 

List of Organizations Tabling

Soil & Water Conservation Society – UConn Student Chapter

EcoGarden

Farm Club

EcoHusky

Engineers Without Borders

Clean Energy Society

Ecoposium, UConn

Beekeeping Club

Environmental Justice Front

Hillside Ventures

Environmental Storytelling

Net Impact

USG Environmental Justice Subcommittee

UConn Outing Club

UConnabis Club

-Clubs added once registrations come in-

 

Is your club interested in tabling? RSVP HERE! Details on set-up and clean up can be found in the form.

Student-Led Sustainability Projects funded by Office of Sustainability

The Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program, run by the Office of Sustainability and Institute of the Environment, awarded  seven student teams working to elevate sustainability in Connecticut.

Spring valley student farm greenhouse

UConn has ambitiously committed to being carbon-neutral by 2030, and has a successful track record of incorporating sustainability into its operations, education and student opportunities. Students play an important role in elevating sustainability at UConn, and the latest round of Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants (ESSSG) awards supports them.

Started by the Office of Sustainability and Institute of the Environment in 2021, the ESSSG program competitively funds student-led initiatives that enhance environmental and social sustainability for UConn communities. Applications for this round spanned everything from graduate-level engineering research to planet-friendly farming practices.

Seven projects were awarded funds due to their interdisciplinary nature and ability to advance both sustainability and equity.

Non-Violence Mindfulness Training for Environmental Justice and Mother Earth Day Festival

This project will offer non-violence embodiment training to students, held by students and national experts. It’ll culminate in a campus event around Mother Earth Day for the students and other groups to showcase art and connect to the UCONN community by teaching embodiment and non-violence.

  • Students: Juan Pablo Yepes Tobon ’24 (CLAS), Laura Augenbraun ’24 (CLAS)
  • Faculty Mentors: Phoebe Godfrey, Professor-in-Residence of Sociology, Stacy Maddern – Assist. Professor-in-Residence of Urban and Community Studies

Renewed Outdoor Classroom and Chestnut Orchard

Locally and sustainably-sourced raw materials will be produced by students to create infrastructure for teaching, outreach, meeting, and artistic performance space that is ADA accessible. This project will also materially advance development of a planned American chestnut seed orchard.

  • Students: Isaac Betts ‘23 (CAHNR), Andrew Muller ’23 (CAHNR), Zachary Bates ‘23 (CAHNR)
  • Faculty Mentors: Thomas Worthley, Extension Educator Forest Sustainability, Robert Fahey, UConn Forest Director and Assoc. Professor

Huskies for Harkness

Huskies for Harkness is an initiative immersing New London high school students into conservation and sustainability, addressing the systemic barriers surrounding historically gatekept fields. It does this through a vocational enrichment trip to Harkness Memorial Park, focusing on education, engagement, and exploration.

  • Students: Jessica Bostick ‘23 (CAHNR), EcoHuskies
  • Faculty Mentor: Eleanor Shoreman-Ouimet, Assist. Professor of Anthropology

UConn Gleaning Corps

The Spring Valley Student Farm Gleaning Interns will assist the Windham Community Food Network to expand gleaning in Eastern CT. Gleaning is the practice of harvesting excess produce that doesn’t get sent to market, and is instead used to support people experiencing food insecurity. The student farmers will harvest, wash and deliver produce to various pantries in the Willimantic area. They’ll also develop a training guide to be used by volunteers to keep the program running in the future.

  • Students: Sydney Clements, Ph.D. Candidate in Geography
  • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

Reimagining a Community Garden

EcoGarden is reimagining the student club’s garden space. Educational signage, a new composting area, a variety of new perennial plants, and an outdoor picnic area are coming to EcoGarden. Community gardens help tackle the issues of climate change and food deserts.

  • Students: Kristopher Dow ’24 (ENG, CLAS), EcoGarden Club
  • Staff Mentor: Jessica Larkin-Wells, Farm Manager, Spring Valley Student Farm

Ecoposium, UConn

Ecoposium, UConn is an organization that serves to plan and promote UConn’s first student-led environmental symposium. The club strives to spread awareness and educate the UConn community about relevant environmental issues through symposium sessions covering environmental topics elected by the organization.

  • Students: Claire Lee ’24 (CLAS), Ecoposium Club
  • Faculty Mentors: David Wagner, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Scott Wallace, Assoc. Professor of Journalism

Material World: Design for a Healthful and Equitable Future

This project will create an interactive and sustainably-built pop-up exhibition educating students on the impacts of environmentally and socially sustainable design methods and materials aimed at empowering them to act as agents of change in their professional careers and personal lives.

  • Students: Cameron Slocum ’23 (SFA)
  • Faculty Mentors: Chris Sancomb, Assist. Professor of Industrial Design, Shareen Hertel, Professor of Political Science

“This signature program catalyzes and supports entrepreneurial activities by students, who co-design projects with faculty and staff mentors.  The resulting projects represent authentic, collaborative experiences that substantively enrich educational experiences and that enhance sustainable practices that intimately integrate social responsibility. It is clear that our students are making a difference and are leading efforts to make the world more just and more resilient!”, says Michael Willig, Executive Director of the Institute of the Environment.

“Despite “small” in being in the name of this grant program, I believe that these grants will leave a large impact on our community, even beyond the environmental sphere. Thanks to the Office of Sustainability, the hard work of our team at Ecoposium, UConn, and the endless support of our faculty advisors, we are excited to utilize these funds in supporting the university’s first student-run environmental symposium this semester. My hope is for members of the UConn community from all disciplines to be able to come together through this event under a shared love and commitment to the environment,” shares Claire Lee, president and founder of student organization Ecoposium, UConn.

Students will present their project findings and impacts at the Climate Change Café in early Spring’24.

For more details on the Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants Program, please visit: https://sustainability.uconn.edu/environmental-social-sustainability-small-grants-program/

POSTPONED: Environmental Involvement Fair on Feb 15, 2023

POSTPONED due to Hartford Protest. New date TBD.

Join the Office of Sustainability and UConn’s environmental student organizations to see how you can get involved with saving the planet! Joining a club is a great way to learn, make friends, and take action for nature. Come say hello!

Date: Wednesday February 15, 2023

Time: Event is open from 2:30-5pm

Place: Wilbur Cross North Reading Room (red star in map below)

Wilbur cross north reading room on map

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of Organizations Tabling

-Office of Sustainability

-EcoHusky

-EcoGarden

-Soil & Water Conservation Society (UConn Chapter)

-Environmental Justice Front

-Horticulture Club

-UConn Formula SAE

-Ecoposium

-Clean Energy Society

-UConn Outing Club

-Moon Club

-Spring Valley Student Farm

-UConn Beekeeping Club

-Engineers Without Borders

-Additional clubs added once registrations come in

 

Is your club interested in tabling? RSVP HERE! Details on set-up and clean up can be found in the form.

UConn Recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University

Bicycle Friendly University Bronze Ranking

 

UConn has been named among a group of higher education institutions nationwide to receive “Bicycle Friendly University” status for the first time, a designation that recognizes its work to support and encourage bicycling as a healthy, environmentally friendly transportation option.

Read the full story on UConn Today:

UConn Recognized as ‘Bicycle Friendly University,’ First Time it has Received the National Designation

COP27 Fellow Dr. Ben North Featured in CT Sustainable Business Council

Ben North in front of Cop27 sign

Dr. Ben North, a graduate MBA student and COP27 fellow, was recently interviewed by the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council.

An excerpt:

It’s very difficult to get an invitation to attend COP27. What made it possible for you? 

Attending the COP27 would not have been possible without the critical coordination and fundraising support provided by the UConn Office of Sustainability through the UConn@COP Fellowship program. This year, 14 students and seven faculty and staff members attended the conference from UConn. Funding for the program comes from a variety of sources, including business sponsors, alumni donors, and university departments and professors. The UConn@COP Fellowship program depends on the continued support from these donors every year to give students access to this transformative experience as part of their time at UConn. 

 

Read the full article: https://www.ctsbcouncil.org/reflections-perspectives-cop27/

UConn Ranked in Top 10 Most Sustainable Universities

Published in UConn Today on 12.23.2022:

UConn recognized as a top-performing institution by the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) and UI GreenMetric World University Rankings.

UConn continues to lead sustainability in higher education. The Sustainable Campus Index tracks universities’ efforts to improve performance in 17 sustainability impact areas, measured by STARS. This year, UConn was ranked 6th overall. The STARS process helps institutions all over the world measure, report and strengthen their contributions to sustainability.

Besides being #6 overall, UConn has the distinction of being one of 12 STARS Platinum-rated schools out of 1,105 participating institutions. When digging into the 2022 ratings, UConn excelled in a few categories:

 

#1 – Campus Engagement: Providing co-curricular activities that allow students, faculty and staff to deepen their understanding of sustainability. These efforts help integrate sustainability into campus culture and encourage more eco-friendly behavior change.

#1 – Public Engagement: Working with community members, governments, businesses and nonprofits to foster solutions to sustainability challenges. Examples include partnerships, community service, and public policy participation.

#2 (tie) – Water: Conserving water, effectively managing rainwater, and protecting groundwater supplies. These efforts reduce energy usage and improve local water ecosystem health.

#4 – Food & Dining: Designing dining programs that support local farms, environmentally friendly farming methods, agricultural worker equity, and uphold sustainable food systems (e.g. meatless dining).

#7 – Curriculum: Equipping students with learning opportunities in sustainability, including courses, living laboratories, immersive experiences and sustainability literacy.

 

STARS, a program of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), is a self-reporting system that measures colleges’ and universities’ performances in several aspects of sustainability.

The framework scores institutions in 17 different impact areas. These include air and climate, buildings, energy, research, and grounds. Schools that earn the greatest percentage of possible points for each area are named top performers.

UConn joined the international network of STARS institutions in 2013, when it was designated as a Reporter. The University then achieved Gold status in 2016, 2017, and 2018. It was rated Platinum for the first time in 2020.

Erin Lindsay  ’23 (CLAS), a Senior Sustainability Intern at the UConn Office of Sustainability, is proud of the impressive ranking, but acknowledged there is still room for improvement.

“Participating in AASHE STARS gives our university the opportunity to be recognized within our community and beyond at the state and even national levels. We perform extremely well in areas related to student engagement and outreach which is a direct result of our incredible student body,” Lindsay says.

“With that being said, STARS also brings light to areas where we need more focus, especially at the institutional level,” she says. “We need greater emphasis on sustainable investments, especially those related to purchasing and energy in order to meet our campus-wide sustainability goals.”

UConn also ranked as the 2022 8th Most Sustainable University by the University of Indonesia’s GreenMetric World University Rankings program. GreenMetric measures 39 indicators in six criteria related to university environmental commitments and initiatives. Over 950 institutions participate across the globe.

Sustainability initiatives at the University contribute to its Platinum rating and top marks in GreenMetric. These include the EcoMadness conservation competition, UConn@COP program, and environmental literacy requirement. Learn more about UConn’s sustainability initiatives and goals at the Office of Sustainability website.

Head over to UConn Today to read the original story: https://today.uconn.edu/2022/12/uconn-ranked-in-top-10-most-sustainable-universities/

COP27: A Transformative Experience – Dr. Ben North

UConn@COP fellows group photoAs I reflect on my experience attending COP27, there are several key takeaways I would like to discuss. My first takeaway is that I believe this experience is invaluable for both UConn graduate and undergraduate students and provides a transformative real-world component to their experience at UConn. Specifically, the UConn@COP Fellowship Program provides students direct exposure to learn about international policy negotiations, network with diplomats and business leaders, and connect with people from cultures around the world at an unparalleled scale. In 1995, COP1 had just under 4,000 attendees but this number has continued to swell with almost 50,000 attendees at COP27 making it by far the largest diplomatic gathering on earth. The scale of this conference reflects the overwhelming consensus by over 190 countries for the need to address climate change and the tremendous opportunity for students to derive value from attending this event as a springboard for professional development.

Additionally, as UConn continues to increase its role as a national leader in sustainability and climate tech innovation, the UConn@COP Fellowship Program is a critical piece of this equation. UConn’s recent announcement to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, the creation of the UConn Climate Venture Studio in 2022, and the inaugural Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit held at UConn in 2022 are all important recent developments which send strong signals about the future of climate innovation and leadership at UConn and the cascading effects that will have for the state. These developments at UConn also coincide with recent legislation (Public Act No. 22-5) approved by the state of Connecticut in May 2022 which requires that the state achieve a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2040. As commitments to address climate change continue to rise globally, in our state, and at our university, this experience provides students vital access to cutting-edge knowledge and innovations that will enable students to become leaders at the forefront of this transition to deliver on these ambitious targets. Therefore, I highly encourage the University of Connecticut and its state partners to allocate additional resources and further develop the UConn@COP Fellowship Program to invest in our students as a means to empower climate innovation and leadership in the state.

Another key takeaway from this experience is that I came to realize quite clearly the United Nations COP is not just about the collective fight to address climate change, but it is a critical mechanism for fostering collaboration and dialogue with countries around the world, including those engaged in rising tension and conflict. Neglecting to participate in this dialogue is a massive setback which stifles relationships and economic ties with countries around the world. Also, while the formal negotiations are often a central focus of these COP meetings, the COP continues to play an increasingly impactful role for addressing climate change by acting as a conduit for creating agreements, facilitating the flow of capital, and disseminating innovations between countries, businesses, and NGOs. Therefore, the COP helps precipitate a much greater climate impact beyond merely the outcomes of the formal negotiation process.

If you are interested in supporting UConn students to attend future COP meetings, please consider donating to the UConn@COP Program Fund. Additionally, if you would like to become a business or organizational sponsor of the UConn@COP Fellowship Program, please contact the UConn Office of Sustainability (sustainability@uconn.edu).

Building Upon Frameworks – Lillian Adamo

Echoing my thoughts from earlier in the week, my gratitude as well as my perspective has only grown after participating in a full week of discussion, presentations, and negotiations at COP27. The Conference of Parties allows for a unique insight into the forefront of climate conversations and innovation. While it may seem as though people are acting independently in regard to sustainability and addressing climate change, ideally there are larger frameworks behind the actions of individuals, nations, and actors.COP27 speaker panel

The major framework present at COP is the goals set by each country, which are self-determined and administered in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs. NDCs are living documents that each nation in the Paris Agreement draft that outline their individual goals in regard to their reducing their contributions to climate change. I had the opportunity to hear further about the opportunities for partnerships between the U.S. and developing nations while attending events that included speakers from the NDC partnership. While there are mechanisms for support associated with the NDCs, there is no true accountability. This can lead to the creation of ambitious goals, with little action. Especially when nations in the Global North seem to be offsetting responsibility, by aiding developing nations that ultimately have much smaller carbon footprints rather than minimizing their emissions and recognizing their massive contributions to the climate crisis. To date, the NDCs have been the most successful framework for climate action than a climate conference, but there are flaws that stall progress.

Another framework that I was able to see was the urban implementation cookbook. On the last day, I attended “Taste Test: a First Look-back on the Urban Implementation Cookbook” at the UN Global Innovation Hub. It explained urban planning and creating sustainable cities through a cooking metaphor. The metaphor is intended to be an accessible and universal framework that can be applied at various scales. It includes conceptualizing the menu, accessing kitchen capacity, selecting an adaptable recipe, shopping for additional ingredients, creating the dish, sharing the recipe, and updating the menu. The framework itself is cyclical in nature, so it can be applied no matter the stage of the project. I found the presentation fascinating, but there was a lag between the creation of this framework and having access to true resources. There also seemed to be minimal pathways to collaboration and implementation. When I had a chance to speak shortly with one of the panelists following the event they mentioned building intercity collaboration as a next step. Within the presentation itself they highlighted that they hope to have further scaling of the framework itself by COP28. While there seems to be a commitment to progress and advancement there needs to be a greater sense of urgency and immediate action.

I found that these two examples of frameworks are indicative of the larger outcomes of the conference, while there is a large amount of discussion of potential pathways and determination of potential options there need to be subsequent, and rapid implementation. Now there are comprehensive frameworks in place, and we are now in a position where there needs to be collective international action to make true progress. As someone who is interested in the intersections of environmental science and policy, these frameworks seem to lack a regulatory structure or mechanism to ensure compliance or measure progress. That is a challenge with a wicked problem, like climate change. There are many different actors and since it is a global problem, there is no one enforceable regulatory body, with legislative capacities, that can ensure compliance. We are reaching a critical point that will hopefully lead to action and compliance on the part of individual nations. I have left the conference with a greater sense of urgency, but also a better understanding of the truly complex nature of international relations. Attending COP27 will be an experience that will undoubtedly impact the rest of my life and has encouraged me to think about sustainability in a broader context, but also to be critical of the current structures in place and expect more of world leaders.