Sustainable UConn

By Rich Miller

How our values about the environment, clean energy, and social responsibility are greening the Husky Blue. Rich Miller is director of the Office of Environmental Policy.

CIMA2: Building on the Momentum

In the interest of keeping climate change at the forefront of the UConn community’s attention, the Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) will help coordinate a system-wide interdepartmental “teach in” this coming April. Provisionally titled “Our Environment: A Dialogue on Change,” this week-long effort, from April 15-22, will continue building on the momentum set by a number of successful Climate Impact Mitigation & Adaptation (CIMA) events in the spring of 2012. Laura Dunn, new Agricultural & Resource Economics graduate student, former EcoHusky officer as a UConn undergrad, and one of two sustainability coordinators in the OEP this semester, will coordinate the teach-in. Laura is the author of this blog post about CIMA 2.

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I’m looking forward to helping UConn continue to build on the momentum set by the inaugural CIMA events last year – my first challenge as a sustainability coordinator in the OEP!

Kicking off in March last year, the CIMA events featured university faculty and guest speakers such as independent journalist and author Mark Hertsgaard, and the Teale Lecture speaker, Michael Mann, an award-winning climatologist. Other events included a panel discussion focused on incorporating various aspects of sustainability, a Climate Impact Expo in the town of Mansfield, and an interactive Eco-footprint exhibition developed by the EcoHusky student group.

Very importantly, to begin CIMA events last year, President Herbst reaffirmed the institutional commitment to UConn’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which had been approved by her predecessor in 2010, and endorsed a new Climate “Adaptation” section of the CAP that highlights our dedication to help communities more proactively address the effects of climate change and sea level rise.

The reactions of students to CIMA last year were very positive, as shown by the overwhelming attendance at the Michael Mann lecture and the passionate participation in discussions during both the sustainability panel and at the close of each lecture or expo. I was proud to represent UConn students as a member of that panel, sitting alongside distinguished scientist, president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in NY, and UConn environmental advisor and visiting faculty member, Dr. Gene Likens.

This year, the UConn community can expect another well coordinated and dynamic CIMA week planned by the organizing committee of student, faculty, staff, and town representatives. Given the success of last spring, the committee aims to focus the month of April on the environment in whatever way relates best to each department. In order to reach a wider audience and engage in a broader discussion, CIMA 2 will feature a week-long “teach-in,” in which faculty are provided with pertinent instructional materials that can be incorporated into a class or two during the teach-in. Scheduled for the week of April 15 to April 22 (Earth Day), this series will also encompass various events focused on the environment and include the annual Earth Day Spring Fling (EDSF) celebrations held at the main campus (and certain regional campuses), co-sponsored by the OEP, Dining Services, EcoHusky, and EcoHouse!

Other CIMA 2 events planned for April that relate to “Our Environment: A Dialogue on Change” include:

  • April 5 – Humanities Institute “Day in the Humanities,” special lecture on “Silent Springs” by historian, Naomi Oreskes.
  • April 9 – A “Coastal Perspectives Rachel Carson Symposium” at Avery Point.
  • April 12 – A tentatively scheduled Law School special conference on natural gas and nuclear power.
  • April 17 – A national screening of new movie “The Island President,” sponsored by The Bard Center for Environmental Policy, featuring commentary by author and activist Bill McKibben, and hosted at two UConn locations: the LEED Gold-certified Laurel Hall in Storrs and the Avery Point regional campus.
  • April 18 Earth Day Spring Fling, UConn’s largest environmental awareness event co-sponsored by the OEP, the Department of Dining Services’ Local Routes Program, the EcoHusky Student Group, and the EcoHouse Learning Community on Fairfield Way at the main campus in Storrs.
  • April 18 – A Teale Lecture Series presentation, “The Lost Woods of Childhood” by poet Allison Hawthorne Deming.