As we observe Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the UConn Office of Sustainability would like to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of the AAPI community in advancing sustainability and environmental justice.
The AAPI community is a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions, many of which have a deep connection to the natural world and a respect for the environment. From the indigenous communities of the Pacific Islands to ancient practices of sustainable agriculture in China, AAPI cultures have long recognized the interdependence of human health and well-being with the health of our planet.
Currently, AAPI activists and leaders are at the forefront of the fight for environmental justice, advocating for policies that prioritize the health and safety of marginalized communities and working to build a more just and sustainable world for all. Examples of these efforts include the work of organizations like the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, which has been fighting for environmental justice in AAPI communities for over two decades, and the Youth Climate Strike movement, which was founded by AAPI youth activists and has played a key role in raising awareness about the urgent need for climate action.
At UConn, we are committed to supporting and uplifting the voices of all communities in our efforts to build a more sustainable and just future. As we reflect on the significant contributions of the Asian and Pacific Islander community during this heritage month, we recommit ourselves to advancing sustainability and environmental justice for all.
You can be part of UConn’s flagship experiential learning program, UConn@COP! Attend the United Nations’ global climate negotiations – the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Dubai this November 30 – December 7. The event brings together diplomats, business executives, heads of government, university leaders, environmental activists, NGO’s and other delegates to discuss progress in dealing with climate change. Through this program, UConn students have participated on panels at international press conferences, networked with global NGO’s, environmentally-minded businesses & renewable energy companies, engaged in immersive art exhibitions, attended film screenings put on by the directors themselves, interacted with international delegates & core members of environmental justice movements, and connected with like-minded, passionate students at other colleges & universities in the U.S. and around the world.
The UConn@COP program funds nearly all travel and registration costs thanks to generous donors. Fellows are responsible for $250, but can request a waiver in the event of hardship.
If you have an interest in climate action, apply! Details on the program and application information can be found HERE.
Applications and references are due by May 7, 2023.
What: Earth Day Spring Fling is an annual celebration of sustainability co-sponsored by UConn's Office of Sustainability and the Department of Dining Services. Established in 2008, the festival features vendors of sustainable and hand-crafted goods, organic and local foods, environmental organizations, and student groups that come together to produce the greatest day of environmental awareness all year! Coinciding with the event is UConn's annual Arbor Day celebration and ceremonial "class tree" planting.
When: Wednesday, April 19th, 2023 from 11am to 2pm
The rain date is set for April 27th
Where: Fairfield Way!
The BBQ, vendors, bike tour, and art show will all be located along Fairfield Way. Outdoor yoga will take place on the Founders Green and the class tree planting will be between the Benton Museum and the Wilbur Cross building.
Who: There will be many unique, sustainability-minded vendors attending EDSF! The event is open to everyone – we encourage you to come out and celebrate the Earth with the OS and Dining Services! Some of the highlights include:
Local conservation non-profits
UConn’s environmental clubs
Organic treat vendors
Seed planting station
Why: Our Earth does so much for us - Earth Day Spring Fling is our way of celebrating the beauty and wonders of our planet, while honoring our commitment to protect our environment. We're also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Office of Sustainability!
What: An interdisciplinary panel of experts, designed to inform students on the ways in which their desired career path can intersect with sustainability and the environment. A green career does not have to be one solely in the environmental field! Green careers are found in business, art, science, education, government, and more. The GCP will help you as a student find a career that connects your unique talents and interests with sustainability. This is also an Honors event! (Categories: Career, Professional, & Personal Development OR Social Change, Service, & Sustainability – #UHLevent10468)
When: Thursday, March 30th, from 5:30-6:45PM
Where: BPB (Bio Physics Building), room 130
91 N. Eagleville Road, Storrs CT 06269
Who: see our list of panelists below! Students of any and all majors are encouraged to attend. Green careers are not limited to environmental majors! We want to show you all how your majors can be related to a green career.
Why: The Earth is facing an imminent crisis: climate change. We will need all hands on deck to make progress in our goals as a global community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save our planet. We at the OS want to show YOU, all the students here at UConn, that ‘green’ does not have to mean strictly environmental science. Our panelists include engineers, businesspeople, and more – sustainability initiatives can be incorporated into any job! There is a place for all of you in the fight for sustainability and environmental justice; you all have a role to play, big or small.
Dr. Sean Bradshaw, Senior Technical Fellow for Propulsion at Pratt & Whitney
Dr. Bradshaw is the senior technical fellow for sustainability propulsion at Pratt & Whitney. His primary focus is on the development of advanced aircraft propulsion technologies that enable the aviation industry to reduce its environmental footprint. Dr. Bradshaw is the chairman of the Gas Turbine Association, the chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Gas Turbine Technology Group, an associate editor of the Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power, a member of the ASME Heat Transfer Committee, and an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University. Dr. Bradshaw is also a recipient of the BEYA Professional Achievement in Industry Award, and received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT.
Samuel King, Co-owner of Blue Earth Compost, Inc.
Samuel King is an experienced sustainability entrepreneur and advocate in the fields of waste, energy, and climate change. He is a co-owner of Blue Earth Compost in Hartford, CT, where he works in various roles relating to the growth and management of the business. As an advocate, Mr. King has been involved as a community organizer in fighting fossil fuel projects locally and nationally. Mr. King’s work now centers around finding solutions for a transition to a sustainable waste infrastructure in CT. Sam is a 2014 graduate of UMass Amherst with a BA. Sc. in Sustainable Community Development.
Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director and Lead Organizer of CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
Aziz Dehkan was born and raised in New York City. With a degree in Biological Sciences from Rutgers University, Aziz built an award-winning passive-solar house and started one of the first organic farms in New Jersey.
In management and development roles, Aziz has worked for social and environmental justice organizations including The Coalition for the Homeless, STRIVE, The Fortune Society, and Mother Jones. As a community organizer and Executive Director of the NYC Community Garden Coalition, in response to structural racism, he has led the fight for land tenure and food security. Aziz served on the steering committee for the People’s Climate Movement rallies in NYC, Washington DC and #Sandy5.
Aziz is the current Executive Director and Lead Organizer of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, which builds alliances among diverse constituencies to combat climate change, create jobs and promote racial, economic and environmental justice. In 2021The Roundtable passed historically significant legislation that attaches strong Labor standards on larger renewable energy projects in CT. The Roundtable’s most recent legislative action is The Carbon Free Healthy School Initiative, a Statewide Bill that seeks to rehab, renovate, and rebuild schools throughout CT.
He is now living in Clinton, CT with his wife, Barbara Moss, and their 13-yr-old dog, Tinkerbell. A dyed-in-the-wool pacifist, Aziz enjoys boxing as a challenging workout form, fully recognizing the irony of this choice. An enthusiastic cook, he loves American roots music, live theater, and the Yankees; dreams of a free Iran, and is grateful for the ocean’s positive ions.
Aziz is tirelessly searching for progressive solutions that support justice, equality, and liberation and disrupting the status quo.
Emma MacDonald, Environmental Analyst for CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Emma MacDonald is a passionate environmentalist and educator. They grew up in Northwest CT, where they garnered a love and respect for nature. Emma attended UConn for their BS in Natural Resources (their focus was Sustainable Forest Resources and their minor was in Ornamental Horticulture). During their time at UConn, they were an intern at the University’s Office of Sustainability and the President of EcoHusky. She graduated in May 2021 and went on to become a nature educator at Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust for the 2021 Summer Camp session. She then became a Seasonal Resource Assistant for the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP’s) New England Cottontail Program. At this position they trapped rabbits for a breeding program and collected data for a joint DEEP-UConn research project. They also assisted with the Waterfowl and White-Tailed Deer programs before the temporary position ended, at which point they began their current job as an Environmental Analyst in DEEP’s Sustainable Materials Management Group (SMM). In SMM, Emma works on various projects such as interactive GIS mapping projects intended to make sustainable practices more accessible as well as website editing, supporting the CT Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management, and community outreach and engagement through recycling presentations and social media. Emma hopes to continue to prioritize accessibility and connection to people and nature in their work as they move forward in their career.
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.
Applications for EcoCaptains for the Fall ’22/Spring ’23 semesters are now open.
EcoCaptains serve as paid sustainability champions and ambassadors for the Office of Sustainability. In collaboration with ResLife, this program allows for EcoCaptains to lead sustainability related programming and educational activities in their residence halls. Below are some of responsibilities of an EcoCaptain:
Work 5 hours per week @ $14.00/hr
Collaborate with Hall Directors and Resident Assistants to lead sustainability related programming and educational activities in residence halls
Attend monthly EcoCaptains meetings
Provide weekly updates to OS staff and intern leads
Participate in EcoCaptain training and group chat
Participate and encourage student participation in Office of Sustainability led events and programming such as EcoMadness, RecycleThon, Green Game Days, Earth Day Spring Fling, and Hillside Environmental Education Park (HEEP) trail maintenance events.
Distribute Recycling Bags and Sustainability Activity books to residents
Lead sustainability education and engagement activities in residence halls like the following:
Weekly recycling audits and scoring
Monthly hall meetings about different topics related to sustainability
Environmental film screenings or movie nights, discussion forums, guest speakers
EcoCaptain “office hours” where people can ask questions about sustainability or give suggestions
Educational flyers, social media, etc.
Weekly tips for living more sustainably
Volunteer clean-up events
Week-long or one-day events or activities, such as a “power-down” day or other fun competitions
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.
Come forest bathing with the Office of Sustainability and NatureRx on April 29th as Regan Stacey leads us through the forests of the HEEP.
Forest bathing is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way, using your senses to derive a whole range of benefits for your physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It is also known as Shinrin-yoku in Japan. ‘Shinrin’ means forest and ‘Yoku’ stands for bathing.
There are two sessions available, capped at 20 participants each. Sign up for your desired time: