Revamped Sustainability Council gets to work

January 6, 2012

Sustainability Council members sat elbow to elbow in the first meeting of the academic year this past December. Sipping on beverages and munching on snacks, members chatted with one another before the meeting began. All were focused, engaged, and eager to get to work as new members of the revamped advisory council.

This year, interested individuals were invited to apply to be a member of the Sustainability Council. According to Katie Anson, Program Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, there was a high volume of applicants for a limited number of positions. "We were thrilled by the number of people who expressed interest in joining the Council," Anson reported, "and we're looking forward to the guidance and feedback our office receives from this group."

With a total of 28 members from various departments, offices, and student groups across campus, the Council is charged with advising the Office of Sustainability on strategic initiatives, programs, and policies. The Council will not only provide valuable guidance on environmental activities, but will also help to advance sustainable policies at the University, offering a bird's eye view that will ensure diverse perspectives, concerns, and ideas are considered and integrated.

Sylvie Bendier-Decety, Fellowship Programs Manager for Chapin Hall, is looking forward to the opportunity to help guide this work. "I've always had a strong personal interest in sustainability," Bendier-Decety stated, "so to be part of a group that's helping to institutionalize environmental policies on campus is truly exciting."

During the kick-off meeting, Ilsa Flanagan, Director of Sustainability, brought the group up to speed on current University programs, which generated thoughtful questions and suggestions from members regarding University priorities and resources. While much of the meeting was spent discussing the University's ambitious strategic sustainability plan, the group also talked about their vision for the Sustainability Council, as well as the projects they would like to work on this year, particularly climate planning.

Flanagan was encouraged by the exchange of ideas and rich dialogue in the meeting. "As the culture of sustainability evolves on campus," she commented, "the Sustainability Council will play an integral role in advocating for sustainability at all levels of the University."