It was all things green at the “Stewards of Sustainability International Policy Conference” held in the Bolger Conference Center and the SMC last Thursday and Friday. For those students who are not quite sure what sustainability is, the United Nations defines it as, “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development is a convergence between the three pillars of economic justice, social equality and environmental protection, also known as the “Triple Bottom Line.”
Sustainability is more than just environmental; it pertains to all of the pillars mentioned above. The conference sessions featured local, national and internationally acclaimed speakers from all positions of sustainability. The Business Expo portion provided an opportunity for the campus community to communicate directly with many of the sustainable businesses that seek to solve social, environmental and economic problems.
An important aspect of sustainability is to teach a new generation of citizens to embrace it; therefore universities are positioned to teach it. Students need to be able to understand sustainability so that they are prepared to enter a workforce that has an expanding green market. The campus should serve as a model of sustainability, in which all outlets of the institution including- governance, administration, academics, research, operations, campus culture and community outreach- integrate sustainable practices.
Millersville University has a new vision for campus sustainability, the University is excited to introduce the Sustainability Education and Research Project (SERP), which is a new branch of the Civic and Community Engagement and Research Project (CCERP). Dr. Nadine Garner, associate professor of psychology, will direct SERP. The mission of SERP is to: “Educate the MU community about the three pillars of sustainability, provide opportunities for MU to directly participate in sustainability initiatives on and off campus, and encourage students and faculty-led research and service on sustainability.”
Current SERP projects include residence hall participation in the TerraCycle program and creating urban garden projects with children in the city of Lancaster. Upcoming projects include a campus “No Impact Week;” which will install a native plant meadow at MU; and forming a SERP “Think Tank” for the Millersville community to come together and dialogue about sustainability.
Some of the vendors present at the Business Expo were Conestoga DPI, USGBC Students, U.S. Green Building Council Central PA Chapter, the Lemon Street Market, Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, ALCOA Foundation, Armstrong Ceiling Recycling Program, Sun Lion Energy Systems Inc, Adopt-A-Highway, Lancaster Creative Reuse, Natural Alliance, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, TerraCycle, A Therapeutic Effect, Wood’N Glass Inc, Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc. and the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired.
All of the organizations and companies that were present were hoping to shed some sustainable light on its attendees, which was certainly achieved. So students, get involved, think of the future, and get even greener!