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first_img Published: April 21, 2020 Historic and current student leadership in sustainability at CU Boulder was a prominent theme in the CU Boulder Earth Day 2020 Town Hall. The event, which featured addresses from Congressman Joe Neguse, CU Regent Lesley Smith and leadership from across campus, was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Earth Day in 1970. “Fifty years later, we must continue to forge on with the same boldness and decisiveness that this moment requires,” urged Neguse, a former CU Boulder student body president.Remote panelists included Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Sustainability David Kang, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Akirah Bradley and student government leadership and activists. Each shared their recorded answer to the question: “What’s next for sustainability, resilience and climate?” Student leadership and activism drives change“Students, your voice has made a difference,” said CU Regent Lesley Smith, announcing her addition of two student representatives to the CU System Sustainability and Deferred Maintenance Committee. “It’s student leaders like you who create change for our campus, our community and at times, the entire globe…I hope you remain just as committed to our efforts in sustainability as the students who founded the Environmental Center 50 years ago,” Bradley said. Town Hall moderator and current CUSG Sustainability representative Travis Torline attested to that power.“Never before have I had the pleasure of working in an organization that not only gives students the power to lead and succeed, but cares for them [as I do at the Environmental Center].” CU student climate strike organizers Paul Rastrelli, Alex Meldrum, and Leah Dinkin shared an invitation to “friendship, camaraderie and mutual love for the earth, that is not going anywhere” with fellow students and activists.“Thanks to [students], we are a leader in sustainability across college campuses,” noted Bradley. Similarities between the novel coronavirus and climate crises“COVID-19 reminds us that radical human behavior change is possible if we’re convinced our lives depend on it” remarked Associate Professor of Communication Phaedra Pezzullo, which they also are in the case of climate.“In my lifetime I can’t recall our country or the world being so severely impacted by a single event: COVID-19, and there are many correlations that can be made with climate change, equity, migration, wildfire, flooding, and disease emergence,” said Kang, sharing that what the campus is learning from our response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is being integrated into the 10-year Campus Master Plan update going on now. Equity and inclusionPezzullo defined sustainability as “the hard and messy work of caring about all people living economically, financially and socially enriched lives,” during the question and answer session, advising we “[learn] from communities that have long histories of being resilient” in response to these crises. Pezzullo added that the global impacts of climate change are adding a layer of urgency.Focus on inspiring local and global solutions While many panelists shared difficult to face facts, hope and solutions were in abundance. “The solutions to all of these problems really require all of us as a species to grow,” noted Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences Jim White. “I can tell you that we will come out of this together better and stronger,” assured Kang as he shared nascent plans to add 15 megawatts of solar capacity to campus and transition the Buff Bus fleet to electric power, among other campus sustainability improvements his office is planning.Jamie McDevitt-Galles, senior program manager for Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Sustainability Innovation Lab, shared the work of those centers on their Drought Resilience Impact Platform, a technology aimed at ending the cycle of drought emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa. “We talked a lot about the importance of community, which I think comes along with a lot of optimism,” Torline summed up afterwards.CU leadership in sustainability operations and researchClimate change is one of the most urgent and pressing challenges of our time and ignoring the impacts it is having on our lives simply is not an option,” said Neguse. “Every day that we fail to act increases the cost of addressing this crisis for future generations.”“In this role I have heard from staff council, faculty council and student government—they’re all on board [with sustainability],” Smith said. “When you look at the varied backgrounds of panelists and those who sent pre-recorded videos, it really stands out that this is a campuswide effort,” Torline said.“It was awesome to see what people across our campus community have accomplished before the pandemic, but even better was hearing about how our community is practicing activism during the pandemic, to better our planet,” said CU Boulder senior Kate LeMair, who tuned in to watch the event.To view the list of presenters and to access the captioned recording, visit the Campus Sustainability Summit webpage.Categories:Getting InvolvedCampus Community Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-maillast_img read more

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