Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ACUPCC, UWEC, the CNT, and Me

Today, Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich presented on a variety of topics. Most important of these was the reasons that he signed the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The Chancellor saw that the ACUPCC's goals for sustainability coincided with university visions for the future and current initiatives already in place. Opportunities, such as the construction of a new Davies Center, the desire to decrease energy consumption, increased faculty-student collaborative research projects, and increasing awareness of the Clean Commute Initiative (CCI) were among some of the reasons that were cited this morning. Chancellor Levin-Stankevich briefly mentioned the financial aspects as well as a means to help change student, faculty, and staff behavior on the UW-Eau Claire campus.

This multi-disciplinary collaborative effort to quantify the carbon emissions from campus is a great experience. It is an opportunity for you to bring your experiences from your respective disciplines in order to tackle this relevant societal issue. Achieving carbon neutrality, as our Chancellor has pledged, is a delicate process. This was illustrated by the wide range of visitors we had today in class. Dr. Jim Boulter, Dr. Kim Pierson, Dr. Jim Phillips, and Lynn Peterson are among the dozens of people on our campus collaborating to make this happen.

With that being said, I wanted to share a bit about my experience with the Carbon Neutral Team (CNT) and our document you were handed today in class. As a member of the first team to calculate the carbon emissions inventory for our campus, I experienced first hand some of the problems and rewards that are in your future over the next fifteen weeks.

Unlike your experience, mine encompassed a less formal approach to the project with little planning (Dr. Beuning, my advisor, had very little time to plan and execute) and we made the rules as we went along. Dr. Hale and her team put together what we think will be a more enriching experience, since there was more time to plan, and there was a previous model to follow. Being the "guinea pigs" has given me some insight to some of the roadblocks you might encounter. I have tried to help Dr. Hale anticipate them as best as I could. I encourage you to use all of us as resources to help you along in your process. Feel free to ask us questions, as we are more than willing to help you in any way that we can.

A few tips: As you go through the first few weeks, as you read the documents you are given, I encourage you to highlight, underline, and make lots of notes. None of these documents are perfect (whether it is the ACUPCC, the CNT 2008 report, or some of the others you will receive). Take note of the strong points, the weaknesses, what can be improved, what you like, what you do not like, etc. This will jump start your discussions and allow you to begin to think about these issues critically and in a multi-disciplinary manner. Another tip, is to start exploring what other campuses and groups are doing as they also begin to attack this issue. Many other colleges and universities have been doing great things. Starting at the ACUPCC website and Googling is a good place to start. There are many books, magazine articles, journal articles, etc. available at your disposal at the McIntyre Library on campus, or the L.E. Phillips Public Library as well. Speak with a professor in your major/minor, or maybe a professor of another course you have taken for ideas too. Use all of your resources.

I will be graduating in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics (Liberal Arts), with minors in History (Liberal Arts), Mathematics (Liberal Arts) and International Conflict (Topical Minor). I have had the opportunity to take courses across the disciplines, which has helped me to learn about different approaches and appreciate the pros and cons of each. This experience was one that stoked my passion for sustainability and sustainable development, and as a result, I have just finished my applications to graduate programs in Urban and Regional Planning, with the hope to concentrate on sustainable development. One thing that I love about this topic is the multi-disciplinary matter of the topic. This cannot be understood from one discipline alone; rather, it requires many disciplines to join forces. I am excited to see such a vast array of majors and minors involved in this process.

I look forward to getting to meet you all better over the next semester!


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