Pitt Presents Sixth Annual Student Sustainability Symposium April 12

Issue Date: 
April 8, 2013

As Southwestern Pennsylvania works toward “going green,” University of Pittsburgh students are doing their part by hosting a free public event to present practical ideas for improving environmental sustainability on university campuses. The sixth annual Student Sustainability Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12 in the William Pitt Union Ballroom. 

The title of this year’s symposium, sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is “Sustainability in Higher Education.” The day’s events will feature presentations of student-led projects, a keynote speaker, a panel discussion about Pitt’s sustainable initiatives, and a panel discussion about eco-friendly jobs in the Pittsburgh community. 

The event also will include a daylong Sustain-a-Bowl fair, featuring educational table displays by Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations and interactive booths constructed by more than 20 Pitt student organizations using sustainable materials. Attendees will vote on the best table, and a prize will be awarded to the winning booth at the end of the day. 

“The symposium is meant to inspire green thinking, whether you have taken an environmental studies class or not,” said symposium coordinator Ward Allebach, a lecturer in Pitt’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science. 

A schedule of the day’s events follows. 

Keynote Speaker
9-9:40 a.m.
David Hassenzahl, dean of Chatham University’s School of Sustainability, will discuss the importance of sustainability as part of higher education curricula, how colleges and universities are responding to the rising awareness of sustainability, and the story of how the Chatham School of Sustainability came into existence.

Administration Panel
9:40-10:40 a.m.
Members of Pitt’s administration come together to discuss sustainable implementations in such areas on campus as Dining Services, Computing Services and Systems Development, Facilities Management, and Housing Services.

Student Presentations
10:50 a.m. to noon and 1 to 1:45 p.m.
Students will exhibit projects showing how to implement practical, sustainable ideas in higher education. Ideas include using electronic rather than paper tickets at sports events, offering free bike maintenance on campus, expanding campus green spaces, and creating recycled art to promote awareness of the environment.

Noon-1 p.m.
A “sustainable lunch” will be provided by Oakland-area restaurants.

Eco-Jobs Panel
1:45-3 p.m.
Each panel member will discuss his or her work as it relates to environmental sustainability and then take questions from the audience. Panelists will include Molly Steinwald, director of science education and research at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland; Erika Staaf, clean water advocate for the statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization PennEnvironment; Aftyn Giles, sustainability coordinator for the City of Pittsburgh; Josh Knauer, chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh-based software company Rhiza Labs; and Patricia DeMarco, adjunct faculty member in Pitt’s Environmental Studies Program.

For more information about the conference, contact Ward Allebach at allebach@consolidated.net or 412-606-9075.