HomeNewsSustainability & higher education meet up in Minneapolis this week

Sustainability & higher education meet up in Minneapolis this week

More than 2,300 sustainability educators and students have descended upon Minneapolis to take part in the 2015 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference, the largest sustainability-related conference of its kind.

AASHE (pronounced Ay-shee) is welcoming diverse experts from across the country to discuss energy, climate change, food and water issues during the four-day conference. The University of Minnesota is well represented at this year’s conference, with 150 presenters, including several from the Institute on the Environment.

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, IonE director Jessica Hellmann will facilitate a plenary discussion looking at three different approaches to gauging the effectiveness of sustainability education. The discussion will feature experts and examples from Green Mountain College, the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and the University of Michigan.

Food is one of the big topics at the conference. Here at the U, professors, dining services and students alike are all doing leading-edge work around food at both a local and global level. AASHE attendees will have the opportunity to connect with folks engaged in local conversations about food during the session “Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths.” Alyssa Lundberg, University Dining Services’ sustainability coordinator, and Valentine Cadieux, IonE resident fellow and director of sustainable and environmental studies at Hamline University, will discuss their college campus approaches to food sustainability during this interactive session. Their goal is to provide a platform for discussion among individuals engaged in food sustainability across a variety of backgrounds — from students to researchers to chefs, farmers and administrators.

Art is making a debut appearance at AASHE this year, thanks to a collaboration with the IonE art exhibit, “Sustainable Acts: Mother Nature’s Embrace.” Many people see sustainability or environmental issues as research based, containing only graphs, numbers and data. While these are all fundamental forms of communicating sustainability,  art is a vital agent in the spiral of sustainable change.

Jonee Brigham, senior research fellow at IonE, and Roslye Ultan, senior lecturer of liberal studies and arts and cultural leadership in the College of Liberal Arts, will lead the presentation, “Bridging the connection between sustainability and art.” As they discuss the intersection between art, science and environmental sustainability, they will reveal the role that art plays in the process of sustainable transformation. Ultan describes the presentation, which will encourage open-ended thinking, curiosity and creative imaginations, as setting itself apart from other presentations.

“The arts have the power to stimulate emotionally charged responses for engagement and action,” she says. “Art adds a new dimension to the conversation and search for finding new ways to communicate complex issues in aesthetically pleasing ways.”

Get more information and see the full list of sessions here.

Photo by Meet Minneapolis (Flickr/Creative Commons)

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