This year on a crisp Sunday morning, students, faculty, staff, and Community members gathered at the William and Mary School of Education to participate in day filled with panel discussions, workshops, and one inspiring keynote speaker. This year’s Sustainability Summit, which took place on October 25th, was the second iteration of a project started last year by Sharon Hartzell, ’14 and Patrick Foley, ’12. This year the Summit was organized and planned by student Natalie Hurd, ’16, who is the Committee on Sustainability Programs and Education co-chair (quite the title, eh?).
“The summit was designed with the intent to bring individuals and organizations together in order to facilitate increased communication and innovation, and I think we achieved that goal,” said Hurd. The first panel of the day was filled with thinkers from various disciplines who offered perspectives on the future and the context of sustainability—this included professors from the history, economics, and government departments. Students were then given the option to break into small workshop groups on Green Internships, Starting Sustainable Initiatives, or Recycling, all of which were well attended and offered great insight on how to get involved in green initiatives, how to be a green leader, and how to turn one’s passion for the environment into a career.
The group as a whole then reconvened to listen to students and staff discuss sustainable food choices and how to make them on campus and in the home, which was a topic that got everyone ready for the delicious, vegetarian, low-waste lunch that followed.
The last part of the Summit was devoted to a presentation given by the keynote speaker, Paddy Woodworth. Woodworth is a former journalist for The Irish Times and author of Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Strategy and current lecturer at DePaul University, and he offered thought-provoking comments on what ‘natural’ really means in the context of preservation, restoration, and thinking about how we impact our environment. At the end of a very fulfilling morning, students and other attendees left feeling thoughtful and hopeful, reflecting on how to make W&M and its community an even more sustainable, conscious space in which to live.