Written by Christina Rossomando
WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/10/2017) The Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability (CACS) held a statewide conference at Wesleyan University on March 31 to bring together higher education students, faculty and staff who share a common interest with campus sustainability.
The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University organized the conference with the Office of Sustainability at Yale University; Eastern and Yale serve as co-chairs of the CACS.
Approximately 150 representatives from campuses across the state participated in the conference and attended breakout sessions focused on campus sustainability projects, student engagement, community action and state policy. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator under President Obama and former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection for the State of Connecticut, spoke at the event to encourage continuing efforts toward greater sustainability.
In her keynote address McCarthy said, “We all have to get out of our comfort zone… so take off your lab coats. Turn off your Bunsen burners and round up your nerdy friends.”
In response to environmental directions being proposed by the new administration in Washington, D.C., McCarthy said, “It’s not unusual for the federal government to get a little confused at times . . . (but) states like this one have no intention of turning the clock back.”
Eastern ISE student interns and ISE staff participated at the conference. “The interns were engaged at almost every level of the conference,” said Norma Vivar of the Institute for Sustainable Energy. “They were involved in the planning and back end production of the event, designing and producing the conference guide, nametags and directional signs. Under Laura Miller’s guidance, students used their creativity and skills to support all logistical needs of the event. They also benefitted from the ability to attend sessions and network with others.”
Lynn Stoddard, ISE director, was a host and conference leader. She explained the progress of ‘Sustainable CT,’ the program where towns in Connecticut will be able to gauge their relative standing in regards to sustainability and plan for future development.
“The topics of the sessions varied,” said Vivar, “from campus initiatives and student programs to sessions about community engagement, the Sustainable CT program and Influencing State and Public Policy. Each session was positive, motivating and inspiring.”