SCIF Bylaws Receive Overdue Update

By Zahra Saifee, Sustainability Office

For the past year, the Sustainability Office has committed to incorporating equity and wellness into its programs and policies. As part of that effort, staff and students completed a major overhaul of the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) bylaws to incorporate a more inclusive vision of sustainability.

When SCIF was created in 2008, there weren’t many tools for sustainability on campus. The bylaws were written by the ASUU Sustainability Board because SCIF is student-fee funded program. The original bylaws no longer reflect the state of sustainability on campus, says Emerson Andrews, SCIF program manager. He points out bylaws fail to reflect the university’s sustainability definition, which is “the integrated pursuit of social equity, environmental integrity, and economic security for current and future generations.”

The revision process began in the spring of 2020, and only with the dedication, passion, and hard work of many students, staff, and faculty are the bylaw revisions completed to express a more just, inclusive, and holistic view of sustainability, Andrews says.

The bylaws revision process involved Sustainability staff and interns, students in the Environmental Justice Community Engaged Learning Course, and staff from Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The bylaw update started with Andrews and intern Piper Christian, who spent the better portion of Spring 2020 scouring through the bylaws of other university sustainability grant funds to build the foundation of comparative data needed to start the revision process.

The following semester, Dr. Adrienne Cachelin, faculty member in Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Sustainability Education director, integrated the bylaw revision process in her environmental justice class, which is a designated Community Engaged Learning (CEL) course. The students applied concepts they were learning in class to critically analyze the bylaws from a justice lens. They asked: Who is being left out by the way the current bylaws are phrased? Who are we harming? What assumptions are we making? They identified points of exclusion and the subtle ways current power structures were being upheld through the language and structure of the bylaws.

“Usually green grants focus on technological responses to complex issues, but this revision expands what is possible in the realm of sustainability to tackle issues from an equity lens,” Cachelin says.

After the conclusion of their semester long bylaw review, the students made two major recommendations. First, remove the overuse of financial terms and jargon. This will remove the barriers and increase accessibility to the SCIF program. Second, SCIF should add a person from the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a voting member of the SCIF Allocations Committee. This will ensure that equity considerations are reflected in the final decision-making process.

Izabella Bourland, one of the students who was a part of the process, says, “We want to be inclusive in our language and break away from the regular framework of environmentalism. We worked hard to not make assumptions that exclude people who have the knowledge to create a sustainable future.”

Both recommendations from the students were included in the revised bylaws. Additionally, Andrews and SCIF intern Zahra Saifee looked over the bylaws line by line to identify necessary revisions. Pronouns throughout the document were updated to be more inclusive, and in some cases, entire sections of the bylaws were removed.

To finalize the process, ASUU Sustainability director Alex Farley and the Sustainability Board created a new letter of intent that seamlessly combined the original vision with the new SCIF values. Lastly, the updated SCIF bylaws were unanimously approved by the SCIF Allocations Committee in April 2021, and established as the new framework of sustainable projects on campus. As the bylaw revision process concludes, it is important to note the critical role students took to make the new bylaws are more inclusive, just, and equitable—ultimately expanding what’s possible to accomplish here at the University of Utah.

 

 

GCSC Seminar: Awakening an Audience with Environmental Theater

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

Thinking about climate change can be so overwhelming that we might, at times, wish to look away. Some aren’t willing to look at all. Phantom Limb Company invites us to consider our relationship to the natural world through a different lens—one that is mesmerizing, emotional, and beautiful.

On Tuesday, April 20 at 4 p.m., co-founder and artistic director of Phantom Limb Company Jessica Grindstaff will give her GCSC seminar, “Storytelling, Imagism and Empathy: Awakening an Audience,” which explores puppetry and performing arts as methods of generating emotion and action around environmental issues and climate change. Three virtual performances by Phantom Limb are also offered through UtahPresents, with the final screening on April 22. Ticket holders will be able to view all three performances through April 30.

Jessica Grindstaff began her career as a visual artist, and arrived in the theater industry through an unexpected twist of events. “I can’t really explain how we ended up where we have,” she says of her journey with co-founder, Erik Sanko. “We had a visual art show together, and then the gallerist wanted him to do a little performance with the puppets that he was exhibiting.”

“We just accidentally ended up making this play,” Grindstaff says. “It was supposed to run for a couple of weeks in downtown New York, and then the New York Times wrote it up and it ended up running for three months.”

The show was a huge success. After it closed, a producer approached Grindstaff and Sanko and asked what they hoped to do next. “We both had been big fans of the Shackleton story, so we said let’s make a play about that,” Grindstaff reflects. They received a grant to fund their idea, and soon found themselves in Antarctica researching Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition. “I would say that it was actually there where it started to become real for me,” Grindstaff says. “I started to understand what I wanted to do”

In Antarctica, Grindstaff and Sanko met and worked with scientists whose research centered on climate change and melting ice. “The majority of their work [was]… in one way or another cataloging the effects of climate change on the ice, on the land, on the animals that live there,” Grindstaff explains. “So, rather than the play just being about Ernest Shackleton, we introduced a component to the piece that was about the future of Antarctica and climate change.”

It became important to Grindstaff and Sanko that their work include a social and environmental message. “And so, we decided to make a trilogy,” Grindstaff says. “We would spend the next 10 years making a trilogy that was related to people’s relationships to the environment and nature, and how that was changing,”

The second piece in the trilogy, Memory Rings, is about the Methuselah—the world’s oldest living tree. “We were looking at the timeline of that tree’s life and everything that happened from germination until now, and looking for stories of people’s relationship to the forest or wood over that time,” Grindstaff says. The final piece in the trilogy, Falling Out, takes place in Fukushima and examines the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown—a natural disaster paired with a manmade disaster.

Phantom Limb’s plays rarely have words, focusing instead on movement and imagery. “On stage, we’re placing images near one another and then ask an audience to make their own connections,” Grindstaff says. “Especially when you’re talking about things like climate—issues that are overly described to us in society in very specific ways that are often around fear, or guilt, or what we should personally be doing—I think leaving space for people in that conversation to find out who they are, and what their role and what their thoughts are in it and their emotions are in it, is really important and it’s really powerful.”

Grindstaff and Sanko use puppets, in part because they are an effective medium for generating emotion. “For a puppet to work, someone has to empathize,” Grindstaff explains. “The puppet is nothing. It’s a piece of wood or a papier-mache. An audience member has to engage in the work on an empathetic level, they have to put themselves inside of it. And I think around the topics of climate and climate change and our roles in our communities, that that is a great thing to do.”

The results of their art are hard to measure, Grindstaff says, but audience members often tell her that they feel moved and leave the theater thinking about their own roles within these complex issues. “They walked out looking at themselves, which is a goal, I think, in our work.”

Register for Grindstaff’s talk on Tuesday, April 20 at 4 p.m. to learn more about Phantom Limb Company’s work, and how environmental art moves hearts and minds.

A New and Improved Undergraduate Sustainability Certificate: Everything Students and Faculty Need to Know

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

In its very definition of sustainability as “the integrated pursuit of social equity, environmental integrity, and economic security,” the University of Utah acknowledges that we must weave sustainability into every fiber of our economic and social systems. Next school year, the U will launch a revised Sustainability Certificate that seamlessly weaves sustainability into the fibers of its undergraduate education.

The Undergraduate Sustainability Certificate, which has been dormant for several years, will take on a new form in the fall of 2021, integrating sustainability into students’ general education and empowering them to approach their primary courses of study through a sustainability lens. By engaging students in the scientific, artistic, technological, and human dimensions of sustainability, this certificate offers something to everyone—from budding scientist to humanities scholar.

“I have students that are pre-med, and they’re really interested in doing things in medical school with a sustainability component,” says Dr. Jennifer Watt, associate director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program. Through this certificate, students from all majors will gain the knowledge and skills they need to leverage their unique passions and skillsets toward building a more sustainable world.

The certificate is designed for students in the natural sciences, arts, and humanities who would like more flexibility than is offered through the transdisciplinary ENVST minor. The U’s Sustainability Education Advisory Committee created this certificate to allow students to take a majority of certificate credits that also count toward general education requirements, integrating the two such that students can complete their general education intellectual exploration requirements with a focus on sustainability. “This certificate is unique in that it will allow students to gain an understanding of the ways that different disciplines approach a single topic, while also studying sustainability,” says Dr. Adrienne Cachelin, the sustainability education director.

“The Undergraduate Sustainability Certificate will create a pathway for students passionate about the planet to complete their general education in a framework informed by their interests and dedicated to the creation of a more sustainable future,” says John Nilsson, assistant dean and director of appeals for general education. “If students have already completed their general education coursework, there is still room for them in this certificate program, as there are almost 400 courses with sustainability designations at the U,” Cachelin notes.

There are two sustainability course designations within the certificate: SUSL for courses with a limited sustainability scope, and SUSC for courses with a more complete sustainability scope. To achieve the certificate, students must complete a total of nine credits of SUSC coursework, at least six of which must be outside their departments; 12 credits of SUSL coursework, at least six of which must be outside their home college; and a portfolio of at least five assignments that demonstrate what a sustainability lens has brought to their major course of study.

The process for faculty to obtain sustainability course designation is streamlined and easy, requiring a short application form, submission of a course syllabus, and a brief justification for course designation. Applications for the fall semester are due on April 15, 2021.

“The course designation is beneficial for faculty, students, and the University,” Cachelin explains. “Students can look for this designation in the catalog and registration pages in order to follow their interests, faculty can be acknowledged for their contributions in teaching about equity and environment, and the University can more easily appeal to students across the country, a large percentage of whom select a University based on sustainability concerns.”

The sustainability designation will also make courses identifiable to a broader base of students. Designated courses are an opportunity for faculty to teach students from different academic backgrounds and majors, whose diverse experiences often enrich classroom discussion. “I think it’s a good thing to have that designation on there. It’s advertising it to a broader community,” Watt explains.

Kerry Case, the U’s chief sustainability officer, looks forward to the influence this certificate will have into the future, beyond the walls of academia. “As a university, our biggest sustainability impact is the knowledge our students carry with them after graduation,” Case says. “The revised undergraduate sustainability certificate will be another critical way for students to gain the tools they need to build a more equitable and environmentally sustainable future.”

Faculty, don’t forget to apply for sustainability designation by April 15, 2021. And students, remember to keep an eye out for those SUSL and SUSC courses this fall.

GCSC Seminar: Infusing Justice in the Climate Planning Process

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

Portland, Oregon is known for its cutting-edge climate policy, sustainability initiatives, and resilience planning. In recent years, however, Portland has shifted its focus—from climate action to climate justice.

On Tuesday, April 13 at 4 p.m., Dr. Liliana Caughman, who has devoted much of her research to Portland’s climate efforts, will share the city’s challenges, successes, and lessons-learned in her GCSC seminar, “From Climate Action to Climate Justice: How scenarios, partnerships, and community priorities are driving equitable urban sustainability and resilience planning in Portland, Oregon.”

Caughman is an interdisciplinary environmental and social scientist with a focus on urban sustainability and resilience, a faculty member in the Native Environmental Science program at Northwest Indian College, and affiliated faculty at Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

“My undergraduate degree was in physics at UC Berkeley, and I loved that,” Caughman says. “I ended up really just wanting to figure out how to apply those skills more for the pressing problems in our world, so I…started working in renewable energy, and it was there where I got to combine physics with thinking about climate change and energy transitions.”

Drawn to solving complex, multi-faceted environmental problems, Caughman returned to graduate school where she began conducting research related to climate justice. She said that in graduate school, “connecting the science with communities and people of color and my own identity all came together.”

Caughman emphasizes the importance of procedural justice in Portland’s shift from climate action to climate justice: “If the processes that we use to make decisions around sustainability and resilience planning…are just and equitable and fair, then I believe—and I’ve seen through some of my research—that the outcomes can be as well,” she says. “These institutions have been so unjust for so long; the only way we can get to the better outcomes we want is by making better processes.”

Better processes are community-engaged and empower local voices using research and academic tools, Caughman says. “We know that we won’t get to the best solutions for everyone if we don’t listen to everyone,” she explains. “There’s a lot more knowledge out in the real world—in the community—than just inside of the halls of academia or the city government.”

Research shows that some communities in Portland will experience disproportionate effects of extreme, climate-change-induced weather events. “Just because the Cascadia earthquake or a 500-year flood would be devastating for everyone, it actually will be more devastating for certain groups than others,” Caughman says. “And so that’s one of the wheels that started turning to help us realize collectively that we can’t just focus on resilience as a blanket statement—there actually needs to be focus on specific communities and groups of people that are going to feel the brunt of this.”

Portland communities have expressed that gentrification, poverty, and environmental racism are among the issues that must be addressed in the city’s climate justice plan. “Equity can’t just be on the side, but actually has to be at the center of the work,” Caughman explains. Climate justice is about resiliency and sustainability, not only in the natural environment, but also in the built and economic environments.

Caughman encourages other cities to learn from Portland’s successes and mistakes as they embark on their own climate initiatives. “Just skip a lot of the learning curves that Portland has had in some of their previous plans and jump wholeheartedly into the really hard work of thinking of it in terms of climate justice, which means integrating the community,” Caughman says. “It means thinking about surviving climate change—not just mitigating it—and it means a lot of partnerships, and being interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and just continuing to try and learn through the process, even if you’re making mistakes as you go.”

Register in advance and attend Caughman’s Zoom seminar on April 13 at 4 p.m. to hear more about Portland’s climate justice initiatives, and what other cities can learn from their efforts.

GCSC Seminar: Exploring More Sustainable Futures through Southeast Asia Case Study

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

As the COVID-19 vaccine offers communities respite and hope, calls to “build back better” from the pandemic are rising across the world. Dr. Pamela McElwee, associate professor of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, cautions that early indications show this is not happening. To “build back better”—in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable—is complicated and challenging. But it is also vital.

On Tuesday, March 23 at 4 p.m. McElwee will join the GCSC and the U of U Asia Center for her talk, “Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia in a Post-COVID Era.” McElwee, an interdisciplinary environmental scientist with a background in anthropology and forestry, will discuss Southeast Asia as a case study through which to explore the challenges of sustainable development and the potential for alternative economic development models.

Southeast Asia, McElwee says, is “emblematic of the challenges that we face in doing sustainable development” because it encapsulates the problems and possibilities of such work more broadly.

McElwee explains that Southeast Asia has successfully reduced poverty over the last thirty years, but that this economic development has come at a high environmental price. “Southeast Asia is the region where they do a lot of natural resource exploitation for exports, and over the last 20-30 years, we’ve seen the increasingly large impacts of that,” McElwee says. “So, you’ve got these clashing issues where on the one hand you’ve had this very successful poverty alleviation, but on the other hand, it’s come at a high environmental cost.”

Southeast Asia has reached a development crossroads, McElwee says, because poverty alleviation has plateaued while environmental degradation continues to increase. In fact, Southeast Asia has some of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, largely due to global consumption of products like timber, palm oil, and shrimp. “A lot of people are saying—‘what’s going on?’” McElwee explains. “We’re not getting continued wellbeing gains, but we’re all of a sudden suffering worse air pollution, we’re suffering from the impacts of climate change…and so we need to think about doing things a little bit differently.”

So far, these issues have been addressed by reforming the current resource-intensive development model to make it “more sustainable.” In other words, resource-heavy global trade continues as usual, but consumers are encouraged to purchase products like palm oil and shrimp from brands that reduce their ecological footprint. There is concern, however, that these small reforms do not meet the scale of the problem and that larger measures are necessary.

“The question is, do we continue to tinker around the edges, or does there need to be a transformative change?” McElwee asks.

Transformative change is challenging, McElwee says. “Once you’re on a certain pathway, it’s very hard to get off,” she explains. “You built your economies on this model, and what an alternative vision for that would be is really challenging.”

McElwee emphasizes the importance of participatory processes in visioning sustainable development futures. It is vital that community concerns are heard and that mechanisms for a just transition are built into the development model. Transitions toward environmentally sustainable futures must also be economically viable for the communities they affect. “Those are discussions that have to be held, and if they’re not held then people aren’t going to be interested in a future for sustainable development,” McElwee says. “They’ll reject it. And we want to avoid that.”

McElwee’s research in Southeast Asia offers something to everyone. “We’re all in an interconnected economy now, whether we like it or not,” she reminds us. “The aggregate contribution to climate change—whether it’s deforestation in Southeast Asia or it’s fossil fuel use here—all goes up to the same place. The days of thinking of individual countries as being able to affect environmental change by themselves are pretty much gone.”

Register ahead of time, then tune in on Zoom on Tuesday, March 23 at 4 p.m. to learn more from McElwee about the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development in Southeast Asia and beyond, and how participatory processes are vital to a sustainable future.

GCSC Seminar: Building Inclusivity and Reciprocity in Community Research

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

 

It started with a chainsaw. Dr. Nalini Nadkarni was conducting research inside a forest reserve in Costa Rica when she heard a chainsaw.

“It was at this moment when I heard this chainsaw just outside of the reserve that I realized I have to do something,” she says. “I wanted to somehow muster more people to the cause of helping trees and protecting forest than I could do just by staying in mainstream academia. And so, I began doing more public engagement work”

Join Drs. Nalini Nadkarni and Adrienne Cachelin, and graduate student Austin Green on Tuesday, March 16 at 4 p.m. to discuss the importance of community and collaborative research to efforts for justice and equity.

Nadkarni, a forest ecologist and professor in the U’s School of Biological Sciences; Cachelin, a professor of Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Director of Sustainability Education at the U, whose work emphasizes relationship-building between the academy and communities; and Austin Green, a PhD candidate in the School of Biological Sciences and an expert in citizen science, may bring different experience and academic backgrounds to collaborative research, but they also share some important common principles.

“I realized that despite how differently we approach community inclusivity and research, there’s this basic fundamental commitment to inclusivity, to the idea that research between academics and communities is reciprocal,” Cachelin says. “Everyone grows, everyone communicates, everyone walks away with something.”

Nadkarni and Cachelin agree that collaborative research must be a reciprocal process, through which both researchers and community members learn and grow. “Think about being present without an agenda, try and think about doing research that isn’t extractive in nature,” Cachelin encourages researchers. “Think about being a part of something instead of apart from something.”

Collaborative research not only mobilizes people to act for social justice, but also is in itself a form of justice for the marginalized communities who are so often studied without reciprocity, Cachelin explains. “If we’re not giving [their] knowledge credibility, then we’re not working towards justice in any real way,” she says. “Their position makes them the experts in their own lives and in their own communities. And, without that information, I don’t really know how to do justice-oriented work.”

Nadkarni, who conducts ecological research with faith-based congregations, urban youth, and incarcerated people, explains that the benefits of collaborative research extend beyond community members to the scientists themselves. “They’re moving scientists, in some cases, to carry out social justice actions,” she says.

Nadkarni and Cachelin hope attendees leave the talk thinking about how their own research can serve communities. Join Nadkarni, Cachelin, and Green on Zoom on Tuesday, March 16 at 4 p.m. for a discussion about collaborative research that engages and serves the public respectfully, reciprocally, and in ways that honor different ways of knowing. This talk will not be recorded, so make sure to catch it live!

Sustainability Launches Revised Green Office Program

By Jessica Hall, Sustainability Office

Many offices across campus have been involved in the Sustainability Office’s Green Office program, which helps campus employees learn how to be more sustainable in an office space and contribute to the university’s goals. Recently, Sustainability released a new version of the Green Office program with the hopes making the program more accessible to all offices.

The new Green Office certification process asks offices and departments to complete just eight actions to be certified. Actions include scheduling inclusivity trainings, reducing energy, reducing purchasing or switching to eco-friendly items, among others. The previous version of the Green Office program had many more items, says Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, engagement and communications manager for Sustainability.

“There are so many actions that staff can take to be more sustainable,” Clark-Proffitt says. “However, we really wanted to narrow the items on the checklist to better highlight the three pillars of sustainability—environmental, social, and economic equity—and make the program an easy, entry-level way to get involved. This is the base level of engagement with staff across campus.”

The new Green Office is completed through an online form, and the Sustainability Office created a worksheet to help offices understand the purpose of each item on the list. The new version of the program also incorporates ways for offices that are predominantly remote to participate, too.

supply cabinet at College of Nursing

The College of Nursing recently completed the Green Office program, and one point they completed was to keep office supplies in a central location. This reduces total purchasing, as well as shipping.

Sustainability quietly launched the new version late in the fall semester, and the College of Nursing accepted the challenge to pilot the new version. Jennifer Macali, assistant professor in the College of Nursing, facilitated the certification process for her department. Macali, who works with the health and wellbeing of people every day, says sustainability is very important in the health because “our health is reliant on the environment.”

“If we ignore the holistic aspects of sustainability, we aren’t doing our job as health scientists,” she says.

The new Green Office process is very straightforward, Macali says. She views the new version of the program as an easy way to embed sustainability into office systems, and she believes it should be expected for all offices to engage in Green Office.

Part of the Green Office program checklist allows for an innovation point, and Macali told us about the College of Nursing’s innovative way to be sustainable. Macali says the innovation point was easy for their office because they already had lots of ideas and contributions from employees all across the department. The college has a battery replacement system and an employee training that goes with it to educate staff on how to properly dispose of batteries in coordination with campus to pick up the used batteries. The College of Nursing is also partnering with the the Eccles Health Sciences Library and Sustainability’s Edible Campus Gardens on new ideas. Macali sees these collaborations as a way to form a more connected community.

Creating community is an important part of Green Office, says Clark-Proffitt, and we invite every office across the U to participate. Offices come in many shapes and sizes, and each has different strengths, but sustainability can be part of all spaces. Visit Sustainability’s Green Office page to learn how to get certified.

GCSC Seminar: Challenges of researching connections between climate and disease

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

 

As the COVID-19 vaccine makes its way into our communities and record snowfall covers unexpected cities across the United States, many of us have infectious disease—and climate change—on the mind.

Dr. Mercedes Pascual, a professor of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, will join the Global Change and Sustainability Center at 4 p.m. on Feb. 23 to discuss these issues in her talk “Changing climate and vector-borne infections: some challenges of scale.”

Pascual is a theoretical ecologist who studies the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases, particularly how they respond to changing environments and climates. She emphasizes that infectious diseases—especially those spread by vectors like mosquitoes—are intricately related to climate patterns and environmental issues like deforestation, population growth, and increasing connectivity of communities across the globe.

“We are in a very critical moment,” Pascual says. “Increased connectivity combined with environmental change creates ideal conditions for pandemics.”

Pascual explains that we will inevitably experience significant climate change, not only over the long-term, but also as a change in seasons and in year-to-year variation. Amidst such environmental changes, Pascual and her colleagues have already seen shifts in disease response, including the expansion of some vectors and the emergence of new pathogens.

Because the study of disease transmission brings together environmental and social factors, Pascual explains that it is difficult to predict exactly how they will manifest and spread in the future. “People can say what they expect about climate, what they expect about ice in the arctic, what they expect about some of these very big concerns just from the geophysics of the problem,” Pascual says. But “when it gets to society, it’s much more difficult.”

We know with certainty, however, that climate and disease are intricately related, she says. “The problems are serious and they are complex,” says Pascual. “Strong precaution for what we are doing to the environment applies.”

Pascual urges that the relationship between environment and disease must be considered in public health initiatives and interventions to slow disease transmission. This work cannot be done without considering the context of climate, she says.

While much of Pascual’s research has taken place abroad, the COVID-19 pandemic brings home the importance of her work. “Often we can think of infectious diseases as affecting other countries, other parts of the world, and other parts of society,” Pascual says. But COVID-19 “has global reach and it shows the dimension that these kinds of problems can take.”

Join Pascual on Zoom at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23 to learn more about the affect of climate change on infectious disease and global health.

SCIF Survey

Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) Accessibility Survey

Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) Accessibility Survey

The Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) is evaluating the barriers that students face when applying to the SCIF grant process, as well as the overall accessibility of the SCIF program to students of all backgrounds. This survey has up to 7 questions, depending on your answers. It should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Have you heard of the Sustainability Office's SCIF grant program? *
How do you prefer to learn about campus programs? (select 3) *
How did you find out about the SCIF program? (check all that apply) *
Have you applied for a SCIF grant? *
What was the most challenging part of the process? (check all the apply) *
What barriers prevented you from participating in the SCIF program? (check all that apply) *

GCSC seminars: spring 2021 sneak peak

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

 

The Global Change & Sustainability Center (GCSC) kicks off its spring 2021 seminar series on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Brenda Bowen, director of the GCSC, encourages everyone—students, staff, faculty, and community members alike—to tune in.

The 2021 spring series features a different speaker on every Tuesday of the spring semester. All seminars are free and will take place online.

Bowen explains that the increased frequency of the spring seminars is due, in part, to the GCSC’s desire to provide opportunities for connection and engagement in the online world. “We just don’t get to see our community the same way right now with everyone working remotely,” Bowen says. “This is really one of the main ways we’re connecting with students, with faculty, and with the community.”

Speakers will include professors and alumni from the U, as well as researchers and academics from across the country. “We have Steve Burian kicking off the seminar series,” Bowen says. “He’s been an associate director of the Global Change & Sustainability Center since its inception, and is just concluding a really exciting project where he’s been working with USAID on water sustainability globally.” On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Burian will give the first GCSC talk of the semester, “Catalyzing Higher Education Capacity to Advance Water Security in Pakistan.”

The spring seminar series was designed to reflect the importance of justice, resilience, and wellness in sustainability work, and to draw connections between sustainability and current, pressing issues, says Bowen. With COVID-19 weighing on the minds of Utahns, for example, the GCSC specifically sought an expert to speak on the connection between global change, viruses, disease, and land-use decisions.

Other talks will examine how social factors influence health, explore strategies for inclusive community engagement, share research and practices for urban resilience, discuss sustainable development in the aftermath of COVID-19, and much more.

“What’s exciting is that all of [the talks] build on each other and you learn a little bit about something different in each one,” Bowen says. “The whole point is to come learn something new.”

Bowen encourages graduate students to sign up for the one-credit GCSC seminar course and hopes that community members will tune in every Tuesday at 4 p.m. “You’re going to get every perspective,” she says. “The artistic perspective, a justice perspective, a biophysical science perspective, a policy perspective, built infrastructure…we’re going to come at it from all these different viewpoints.”

While each speaker comes from a different background and expertise, their talks fit together and tell a story over the course of the semester. “They weave together into this complex world of sustainability,” Bowen says.

Join us for Steve Burian’s seminar on water security on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m., and learn more about the upcoming seminar speakers and topics.