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IU Statewide Sustainability Summit brings together sustainability leaders from across IU

Feb. 15, 2017

In the face of climate change, biodiversity loss, economic disparity and social inequality, universities play an important role in building a culture of sustainability among students, faculty and staff. IU's Bicentennial Strategic Plan lists “sustainability, stewardship and accountability for the natural, human and economic resources and relationships entrusted to IU” as a core value.

Sustainability Summit group photo

The summit brought together sustainability leaders from multiple IU campuses to share ideas, insights and challenges. | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY

It was in that spirit that the Second Annual Indiana University Statewide Sustainability Summit on Feb. 3 brought together those involved in sustainability from IU campuses across the state to share their ideas, insights and concerns.

IU Statewide Sustainability intern Kathrine Schulze said that assembling leaders from several campuses made it easier for them to share their ideas.

“A lot of IU sustainability is working toward innovative solutions to make the everyday sustainable, which can be done better face to face,” said Schulze, who helped organize the summit. “Ideas and information flow more organically when several people with the same interests and issues sit down in one place and discuss them.” 

University Director of Sustainability Bill Brown said that each campus has its own set of challenges, contexts and areas of expertise, adding that the sustainability summit allowed participants to draw from this diversity. 

“The primary thing we’re trying to do is learn from each other,” Brown said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re not all starting from scratch and reinventing the wheel.”

Topics included academic programs, community outreach, funding and engaging athletics, campus gardens and food pantries. Even lunch time was used to exchange ideas. Brown, however, was careful to select issues that multiple campuses, if not every campus, faced, so participants could learn from each others’ successes and failures. 

“I loved hearing discussions between people from different campuses,” Schulze said. “Many found that they were facing the same roadblocks on projects or had faced similar problems before. And in discussions between campuses, they were able to come up with creative solutions together or pass along advice.” 

Director of the IUPUI Office of Sustainability Jessica Davis echoed this sentiment.

“This sharing of experiences is valuable in learning to navigate the IU system,” Davis said. “Another value is feeling energized and hopeful for the future of sustainability simply by being in a room full of like-minded people.”

The Statewide Sustainability Summit aligns with priorities outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including celebrating a community of scholars.

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