Office of Sustainability attends Higher Ed Conference in LA

November 2012

Several members of the Office of Sustainability spent an October weekend in downtown Los Angeles for the annual AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education*) Conference. It was a repeat trip for Director Ilsa Flanagan and Program Coordinator Ignacio Tagtachian, and a first-time experience for Intern Zach Felsenstein.

We attended workshops and seminars presented by offices and sustainability organizations from around the world, getting a chance to learn from what others experiences and to share ours as well. It was fascinating to see the diversity of actions students, faculty and staff are taking - from on-campus farming projects to grassroots recycling efforts to high-level structural change, there's a lot going on in the world of campus sustainability. The first day concluded with an inspiring keynote by sustainable development icon Hunter Lovins. She discussed ways the economy can shift to reduce its environmental impact and promote sustainable solutions to modern-day problems.

Four Principles of Communications

In addition to workshops and keynote presentations, the Office participated in the poster session, where we presented on our communications successes. Our poster outlined the four principles on which our communications are based. Being:

  1. relevant
  2. positive
  3. branded
  4. accessible

People who stopped by particularly enjoyed our series of horror-themed Earth Week posters. Apparently we were ahead of the curve with the zombie trend! Many fans asked for a copy.

Washington Park Consortium

On the final day, Ilsa, along with Brandon Johnson from the Washington Park Consortium, presented a session entitled "How a Sustainability Office Can Transform Town/Gown Relationships." This focused on the Office's efforts to engage the University's neighbors in Washington Park. The session explored the partnership between the Office of Sustainability and the Washington Park Consortium's Perry Street Farm.

AASHE was an excellent experience, and a great opportunity to engage with leaders in campus sustainability. I can say personally that I really enjoyed the experience, and that I'll keep in touch with the people I connected with at the conference.

*University of Chicago is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This means that all U of C affiliates have access to membership resources like discussion forums, job postings, workshops, webinars, and more.