The NJHEPS 2105 Annual Meeting held on Friday, April 24 at Duke Farms in Hillsborough was a great success, as NJHEPS President Shana Weber and meeting attendees got together and discussed exciting new opportunities and challenges ahead for those committed to sustainability on our college and university campuses and beyond.
The primary theme of the meeting: NJ Campuses as Living Laboratories for Sustainability, sparked a vigorous, efficient discussion as laboratory efforts foster academic and operational partnerships that encourage campus culture change, multidisciplinary collaboration, and accelerated impact. To our knowledge, this was the first state-wide symposium convening operational leaderships as well as faculty actively conducting sustainability research using NJ campuses as test beds.
A highlight of the meeting was the keynote address of Forrest Meggers, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of School of Architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Princeton University. Dr. Meggers gave audience members a real taste of sustainability in action. Meggers not only described how research can be used to push the limits of sustainability, he demonstrated it by using his bicycle to power a blender, making fruit smoothies for everyone to sample.
Additional highlights of the meeting included a NJHEPS Business Meeting with the Executive Committee, Staff and Advisory Council members, an exciting Student Networking Session, moderated by Daniela Shebitz, where student groups focused on sustainability on NJ campuses and a productive Open Session with the students.
Below is a compilation of the Meetings afternoon speakers, which were also very well received.
Afternoon Campus Speakers
Laura A. Hyatt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Rider University
K. Browne, M. Brogan, M. Chavez, D. Druckenbrod, B. Hunter, D. Jacobs.
Title: Sustainability Research at Rider University
Many institutions heavily involved in sustainability research often do so through their engineering programs. However, for these solutions to work, principles from business, liberal arts, social and natural sciences are also needed. Faculty and students at Rider are actively involved in research projects that have important feedbacks on our institution and beyond. Environmental science students are investigating the effectiveness of a biocontrol agent on a campus invasion of purple loosestrife. Teams of faculty are exploring our campus’s connections to the great naturalist Aldo Leopold and doing research in our classrooms with a successful green course certification program. Biology majors are experimenting with the use of effluent from a biodigester as fertilizer on our campus grounds while chemistry majors are tweaking biodiesel extraction techniques. Accounting students are learning about the critical role of sustainability in their profession and political science students are deeply engaged in action research, participating in community campaigns concerning the proposed PennEast pipeline. At Rider, we are including all disciplines in the sustainability research endeavor.
Scott A. Mittman1 (presenter), Alkis Dimopoulos2, and Robert Leone2
Professor and Science Faculty Coordinator (and program coordinator for the Environmental and Sustainability Science Programs), 1Division of Biology and Chemistry 2Division of Engineering Technologies & Computer Sciences, Essex County College, Newark, NJ
Title: A Community Partnered Student-led Rainwater Harvesting and Solar Powered Water Distribution Project
Abstract: After winning a Ford sponsored College Community Challenge (Ford C3), Essex County College (ECC) faculty worked with community leaders to devise a way to improve the sustainability of a fledgling urban hydroponics effort in Newark. The ECC faculty used the project as a teaching tool, where students were central to the design, planning and installation of a rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic powered water delivery system.
Shana S. Weber, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Sustainability, Princeton University and President, NJHEPS
Title: Are Higher Education Sustainability Metrics Helping Us Track Meaningful Regional Impact?
Abstract: Hundreds of campuses across North America are now tracking sustainability metrics and reporting progress to a central repository. But do those data help us translate the information into stories of meaningful regional impact? Are goals being set by campuses aligned with regional needs? Dr. Weber will highlight results from a recent research partnership between Princeton and MIT to mine existing data for significant performance patterns, and to view those patterns through regional lenses. Results will uncover campus performance against regional water scarcity status, as well as broader regional ecological characteristics.
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