College presented with ways to help improve environment

Students and faculty gathered around a telephone and white screen for the fifth Annual Campus Sustainability Day on Oct. 24, hosted by Susan Albertine, dean of the School of Culture and Society, in the Social Sciences Building.

Bill McKibben, Scholar-in-Residence at Middlebury University, Norm Christopher, director of sustainability at Grand Valley State University, and Debra Rowe, president of U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development, were the three presenters and Terry Calhoun was the moderator. All of the presenters spoke on the importance of conserving energy for the earth.

McKibben, author of “The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future,” was the first presenter. McKibben spoke of his “Step it Up” campaign, which deals with issues under the umbrella of global warming.

He spoke fondly of his organization, citing it as “the biggest movement of young people since Vietnam.” He offered many suggestions that campuses could use to help make their school more environmentally-friendly, including universities having their own gardens in order for the dining services to use fresh and naturally grown produce.

“We want and need more farmers in this country,” McKibben said. He also suggested that the most important thing students can do is engage in political activity.

Christopher spoke about Grand Rapids, the second largest city in Michigan. The major issues in this community included unbalanced cities and school budgets, poverty and homelessness and the importance of protecting the Great Lakes. He proposed that in order to have a sustainable community, awareness must be created, goals and objectives for sustainability must be set, behavior must be changed and performance must be monitored.

“Think globally, build regionally and act locally,” Christopher said.

Rowe, the last presenter, is the president of U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development. She talked about the importance of sustainability and how it affects everyone’s lives.

Rowe also stated how it was important that campuses start to become more conscientious about their energy usage and consumption.