Campus Conversations program places new focus on sustainability awareness and involvement

By Carol Nelson, Office of Communications and Marketing



The Office of Sustainability has launched a number of new initiatives this year, including the Campus Conversations program, which offers an opportunity for faculty, staff, students and members of the community to discuss issues related to Auburn's commitment to sustainability.

Campus Conversations replaces the office's Green Lunch Series, and sustainability staff said the new series offers an opportunity for more dialogue and audience participation.

"We want to create a community of practice and encourage everyone to think about how we can all do what we do better," said Michael Kensler, director of campus sustainability operations. "We want to engage and empower people to make a difference."

The most recent conversation centered on the topic, "I believe in Auburn and love it! Exploring what this looks like in action," and encouraged the community to look at what it means to believe in Auburn, how a love for Auburn appears in daily life and what that has to do with Auburn's commitment to sustainability.

"We wanted to ask what it means in practice, what that looks like and how the practice of that belief relates to sustainability," Kensler explained. "Beneath that ideal is a value system, and really, underlying sustainability is a value system about the way we treat each other and the world around us. I really think they are the same values, so we wanted to get people thinking about that at a deeper level."

Campus Conversations will be held throughout the year and will take on topics including water policy and use, energy conservation and efficiency, transportation, waste and food.

"Through the program, we'd like to raise awareness and understanding about the broad range of issues related to sustainability and also create a community of conversation, a community of learners, so that together we can figure things out," Kensler said. "It's not the experts in sustainability who will figure things out; it's everyone working together. Our real goal is to create a community that is exploring these ideas together and to figure out where we go from here."

This year, the Office of Sustainability plans to develop a Sustainable Office Program, designed to decrease Auburn's environmental and monetary waste and increase Auburn's ability to serve and positively impact its faculty, staff and all those connected to it; the Sustainable Living Guide, which will be a resource and a how-to manual to guide sustainable behavior; and an awards program to acknowledge progress made by individuals and groups on campus.

"We see the Office of Sustainability's role is to increase awareness, understanding, involvement and practice of sustainability on campus and off," Kensler said.

The new initiatives are being put in place to assist Auburn in meeting the goals and commitments of the strategic plan, raising awareness and understanding of sustainability and encouraging and increasing sustainable practices.

"Auburn has a lot going on already, but we have barely begun our journey to create an ethic, practice and culture of sustainability across campus," Kensler said.

Last Updated: Jan. 26, 2012

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