Representatives from more than 30 colleges and universities around the state gathered Friday for the first “Sustainability and Community Engagement” conference held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“We were thrilled to gather our colleagues from around the state and focus conversations around service-learning and sustainability efforts” said Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement Service Learning who co-sponsored the event with Sustainability Coordinator Jamie Landi. “Through networking and collaborating, positive strides will be made for our campuses and communities.”
Attendees represented higher education included Cornell University, Clarkson University, University of Rochester, Bard, St. Lawrence University, Hamilton University, University of Buffalo, SUNY Oswego, and Ithaca College. In addition, representatives from the New York Coalition for Sustainability in Higher Education, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, and HWS’s Finger Lakes Institute brought unique perspectives to the discussion.
The conference started with presentations about inspiring initiatives that are taking place at various institutions. Lisa Cleckner, director of the Finger Lakes Institute, spoke about HWS Sustainable Community Development program and the importance of experiential learning. Professor Susan Powers from Clarkson University discussed the efforts of their students to integrate food, food waste and energy production into a cohesive program. Both speakers emphasized the importance of student ownership and involvement in projects happening on campus and in surrounding communities.
Dominic Frongillo, the Community Energy Educator for the Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension, spoke about his work to improve energy efficiency in the Southern tier. In the program “LightenUp Tompkins,” Frongillo organized the delivery of more than 3,500 CFL light bulbs to homes across Tompkins County. “This is a time of unprecedented change and this is the context in which students are currently going through their education. This means that they want more than ever to be involved in real things that have real consequences,” he said.
Via Skype, Sarah Brylinsky, program associate at Second Nature and manager of the American Colleges and Universities President’s Climate Commitment program, addressed the importance of preparing students for the new green economy and efforts to increase the sustainable literacy.
“The presentations were very impressive and informative and we had great attendance and interest in this topic. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss best practices and collaboration between service learning and sustainability work on campus and in New York State,” said Landi.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are among the 28 baccalaureate colleges selected for the Community Engagement Classification designation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and were also ranked 17th overall among the nation’s liberal arts colleges in the area of service iby Washington Monthly. Hobart and William Smith are a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.
In the photo above, Lisa Cleckner speaks to conference attendees.