Institute of the Environment Executive Director Mike Willig was recently featured on the UConn360 podcast!
Episode 102: The Case for Not Despairing Over the Fate of the Earth
We’re joined by Michael Willig, executive director of the Institute of the Environment and a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who talks about why he doesn’t lose hope even in the face of grim news about the climate and environment. One of the things that encourages him is the work that UConn is doing on a number of fronts, which he tells us about. He also discusses what it was like to start his field career in a remote corner of Brazil, and how that taught him about more than just evolutionary biology. Afterwards, we travel back to the Golden Age of Radio to meet a UConn professor reluctant to relive his childhood celebrity.
The Office of Sustainability and the Institute of the Environment started a funding program to supportstudent-faculty projectsthat enhanceenvironmental sustainabilityand campus-wide engagement with sustainability issues at the University of Connecticut and in Connecticut communities throughresearch, authenticcommunity engagement, campusoperations, oreducation. Projects must increase bothenvironmental and social sustainabilityat UConn, and address one or more of UConn’s strategic sustainability goal areas (climate change, energy and buildings, waste, outreach and engagement, water resources, food and dining, purchasing, transportation, or grounds, open space and conservation areas)andone or more related social challenges (fostering inclusion of diverse perspectives, addressing systematic inequalities, environmental justice, social and health inequity, community development, etc). Project activities occur at any of the UConn campuses and extend to Connecticut communities outside of the University campuses. Special consideration is given tointerdisciplinary projects that advance equity and justiceor incorporate theartsandhumanities. Funded teams present their project findings and impacts at a symposium in the Fall following their Spring award.
Application Opens: Sept 8, 2022
Application Closes: 4:00pm on October 11, 2022
Decisions will be made in early December 2022. Funding will be provided to selected grantees in January 2023.
Fall ’22 Call for Proposals
Eligibility: All currently enrolled University of Connecticut undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply. Students must be full-time during the time period of the grant. Applications can be submitted by an individual student or teams of students. Students can lead only one proposal each and can collaborate on up to three proposals (but can participate in no more than three proposals total).
Faculty/Staff Mentor Requirements:Each project must have at least one faculty or staffmentorwho submits a support form with the application and will actively participate in the project. Mentors must be able toaccept and manage grant fundson the students’ behalf. This includes responsibility for anystudent hiring. The mentor is responsible for ensuring the project budget is executed according to UConn policies and procedures, adheres to the guidelines outlined in this application and is expended at least three weeks before the close of the fiscal year. Faculty/staff members can collaborate on no more than three student proposals each.
Funding:Limited funding is available for proposed projects with budgets up to $10,000. Proposals should provide strong justification for all budgetary items. Awards will be announced by December 2022. Funds will transfer early January 2023 and should be fully spent by June 30, 2023.
Deadlines:For full consideration,allproposal documents must be submitted by October 11, 2022 at 4:00pm Letters of support from faculty or staff members may be submitted through the google form application or via email to email@example.com. Projects should not extend past the start of Fall ’23.
How to Apply: There is agoogle form applicationwhich asks for contact information and a few short essay questions. You are also required to submit aproject budgetand faculty mentorsupport form. Download each form, complete, and then you can upload them into the google form application.
“Anyone with a UConn ID, students or faculty can shop at the swap shop by bringing in an item they no longer wear. Each item gets a credit based on its quality and brand name and then shoppers can walk away with a new item.”
UConn Today published a story about one of our Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants awardees on August 31, 2022.
Grantee Madeline Kizer is part of the team of UConn students bringing the Swap Shop to life on campus. From the article:
“Cheap clothing has created a culture of “disposable fashion” also known as fast fashion.”
“If something is so cheap, that’s how you know it’s not sustainable,” says Madeline Kizer ’24 (BUS) who is determined to educate as many people as possible about fast fashion and sustainable alternatives. She and other UConn students have established the UConn Swap Shop, a second-hand clothing store aimed at promoting sustainable shopping habits which will open its doors on Thursday, September 8th in the Family Studies Building.”
“We want to raise awareness about sustainability and get people to talk about it,” she says. “If we can get more people to shop sustainably and raise awareness of the issues, hopefully, we can create change.”
The Swap Shop is a place where students can donate clothes or swap for different items. Besides swapping clothes, Kizer says the shop will host events.
“We’re also planning to host sewing andupcyclingworkshops where we will teach people how to upcycle and the reasons for why we’re doing this,” Kizer says. “We also want to create other educational workshops or a talk series about fast fashion in general.”
Volunteers needed for the 13th annual Football Green Game Day (GGD)! GGD is an event organized by UConn’s Office of Sustainability and UConn Athletics. GGD volunteers are responsible for collecting recyclables from tailgaters prior to the start of the game and promoting environmental awareness to the thousands of UConn Husky fans in attendance! Without volunteers like you, this event would not be possible. This year Football Green Game Day will be held on September 10th, as the Huskies take on the University of Syracuse at Rentschler Field at 7:00pm. Free transportation, dinner, and a ticket to the game will be provided to all volunteers. Please bring your own water bottle and sunscreen! The buses to the stadium will be departing from Hillside Road in front of the Student Union at 2:45 PM. Volunteers can either choose to take one of our buses back to campus around half-time (approx. 9:00 PM) or stay later and take one of the free Husky Roadshow buses back to campus.
New! Take your commute out of the climate by joining the Carbon Neutral Commuter Program. Donate $5 to help offset the 13,000 metric tons of carbon that are emitted by UConn commuters annually.
Staff and student personal vehicle commuting at UConn contributes over 13,000 metric tonsof carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That contributes to approximately12%of UConn’s annual carbon footprint, and is equivalent to burning1.5 million gallons of gasoline. Historically, UConn has very limited influence over this significant portion of its carbon footprint because it doesn’t own or choose the cars that employees and students drive. Now we’re offering an option for commuters to offset their commute’s carbon emissions. Anyone who chooses to participate can enroll in the Carbon Neutral Commuter Program (CNCP) after purchasing their parking pass.
What Is It?
Avoluntaryannual donation of $5(or more if you’d like!) that goes towards projects that effectively prevent carbon emissions from being emitted into the atmosphere. These carbon negative projects work to offset the carbon emissions created by employees and students through their commute to campus.
For the inaugural year of the CNCP, 100% of funds raised by the program will be used to purchase third-party verified carbon offsets. Verified carbon offsets are projects that reduce, remove or avoid emission of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) from going into the atmosphere. Offsets must meet the OS’s stringent environmental integrity and environmental justice standards. Moving forward, the OS is forming a committee of students, faculty and staff who will convene to determine the best ways to direct CNCP funds in order to support the goals of offsetting commuter emissions, supporting students and local communities, and addressing historical environmental injustices. To learn more about carbon offsets and the program in detail, please see our FAQ section on the CNCP page.
CT Health I-Team published a story about one of our Environmental and Social Sustainability Small Grants awardees on July 5, 2022.
Grantee Madeline Kizer is part of the team of UConn students bringing the Swap Shop to life on campus. From the article:
“According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “The [Fast Fashion] textiles system operates in an almost completely linear way: large amounts of non-renewable
resources are extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short time, after which the materials are mostly sent to landfill or incinerated,” under-utilizing recycling. And, many of the industry workers are women, age 18-24, who are exploited working long hours, making low wages, reports re/make.”
“Madeline Kizer of Wallingford hosts clothing swaps to promote second-hand shopping, aiming to raise awareness of fast fashion’s impact on the environment.”
“For the rest of the summer, Kizer and two classmates are finalizing UConn Swap Shop, an on-campus thrift store. Students will have the opportunity to swap clothing, each item having a designated point value. Kizer recalled being a freshman without a car on-campus and wanting to thrift in her free time. She hopes that the thrift store will teach students the importance of shopping second-hand.”
The Institute of the Environment seeks a strategic administrator and effective Director of the Office of Sustainability at the University of Connecticut, who will leverage our institutional reputation in sustainability to further advance our national and international leadership in sustainability and the environment.
The Office of Sustainability reports to the Institute of the Environment and works with senior administrators, students, faculty, and staff to set and achieve sustainability goals for the University in the areas of climate action and resilience, energy and buildings, waste reduction and diversion, water resources, food and dining, grounds, purchasing, transportation, open space and natural resource stewardship, and the intersection of these issues with environmental and social justice. The Office develops outreach and engagement programs that feature experiential learning to raise awareness and improve performance around sustainable practices and behaviors related to campus life.
UConn is internationally recognized as a leader in campus sustainability, consistently placing in the top 10 of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools ranking and possessing a Platinum Rating with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). By convening and leading the Environmental Policy Advisory Council (EPAC), and more recently through its participation on President’s Working Group on Sustainability & the Environment, the Office of Sustainability provides the University community with a focal point for campus dialogue on energy and environmental issues, and has been integral to the successful planning and implementation of environmental sustainability initiatives at UConn.
Reporting to the Executive Director of the Institute of the Environment, the Director advocates for sustainable decision-making across diverse units at the University. From an administrative position, the Director manages a modest staff of professionals and students, and oversees fiscal operations of the Office.