This past week I attended the 10am symposium that spoke about sustainability and how it applies to Bucknell University. The session was moderated by Peter Wilshusen and included talks by Alf Siewers, David Kristjanson-Gural, and Jamie Hendy. Each professor spoke on varying areas of sustainability—including what they are most passionate about within the area, what sustainability means to them, and how it applies to our campus community. They provided varying definitions of sustainability, they spoke of the future, and of possible solutions to the environmental issues that plague us today.
Alf Siewers was the first faculty member to speak. The main idea of his talk was that we should not take our environment for granted, and emphasized that idea that we need to try to find meaning in our lives outside of technological communication. For instance, he gave the example of watching the sunset over the Bucknell academic quad. He stated, “When you watch the sunset on the academic quad over the Appalachian Mountains, do you stop and appreciate what you are seeing? Or do you find yourself looking down at your cell phone?” He repeatedly referred to sustainability as “a story”.
Professor Kristjanson-Gural spoke next. He spoke from two different perspectives—first social justice and then economic. He demonstrated how social justice and sustainability are interrelated, but separate as well. He noted that it is possible to have a just system that is unsustainable, and a sustainable system that is unjust. He also said a very controversial statement saying that capitalism is intrinsically unsustainable because it creates uneven distribution of wealth. I see his point, but I do not think that I can support ending capitalism.
Finally, Professor Hendy spoke from a management perspective. As she also teaches Business, Government and Society, it came as no surprise that most of her talk could directly tie back into our class discussions. Her message was clear—that it is entirely up to our generation to pave the way for change, to make the world a better place, and to try to save our environment. I absolutely loved when she brought up Patagonia as an example of a company that is truly doing things the right way from a sustainability standpoint. They exemplify social responsibility and are truly paving the way for the future of sustainable clothing.
I am very pleased that I attended this symposium. What I enjoyed the most was hearing each individual professor’s unique perspective on sustainability, and seeing how the issue of sustainability is important across all fields of study. I was disappointed that they did not talk more about what we as Bucknell students can do, and how the issue of sustainability is affecting our campus. I would have liked to hear more on that topic. Overall, I thought it was great. Definitely worth waking up early to go see it!!