UH Hilo hosts 6th Annual Sustainability in Higher Education Summit

Student and faculty delegates from all 10 campuses of the University of Hawai‘i System joined together for extensive breakout sessions, brainstorming, strategic planning and more.

By Alexis Stubbs, Sophomore, Tropical Horticulture.

Students working in large open area on campus.
In preparation for showcasing UH Hilo’s sustainability projects during the summit, Professor Norman Arancon’s Sustainable Agriculture class (AG 230) worked together to beautify the surrounding areas and revitalize the nearby Waste Sustainability through Composting and Vermicomposting Project in progress.

Tis the season to be ‘susty’! It’s that time of year again when student and faculty delegates from all 10 campuses of the University of Hawai‘i join together for extensive breakout sessions, brainstorming, strategic planning and more. The 6th Annual Sustainability in Higher Education Summit was hosted on Hawai‘i Island at UH Hilo and Palamanui on February 8-10, 2018, for the first time.

This year’s summit aimed for participants to learn from indigenous ancestral knowledge systems; share examples of integrating indigenous ancestral knowledge into contemporary practice; support faculty in developing sustainability courses across the curriculum; share best practices in applied learning and campus operations to meet energy, water and waste reduction targets; feature curriculum, teaching, research, community and cultural engagement activities; feature student and faculty work conducted during AY17-18’s “Many Minds, One University” focus on addressing the Grand Challenges of Water; share best practices and lessons learned from across the broad and diverse field of sustainability in higher education; and recognize remote interaction.

The summit included virtual keynotes from the Worldwatch Institute’s Erik Assadourian (Is Sustainability Still Possible?) as well as the annual “State of the State Climate Update” from UH climatologist Dr. Chip Fletcher.

Every year, one student is granted a $10,000 Green Student Initiative Award to execute their winning project proposal at his/her campus, in addition to multiple $1000.00 Green Student Leader Awards also given to students who are recognized as leading Green Movements on their campus.

Last year, UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management student Alexis Stubbs [author of this story] took home the $10,000.00 Green Student Initiative Award for her Waste Sustainability through Composting and Vermicomposting Project (WSCVP), along with UH Hilo Environmental Science student Zoe Whitney, who took home two $1000.00 Green Leader Awards.

This year, delegates from the neighboring islands arrived in Kona on Thursday, February 8, and enjoyed events and workshops at Palamanui Campus.

Shed and bins for waste collection.
Site of the Waste Sustainability through Composting and Vermicomposting Project.

Delegates traveled to Hilo campus Friday morning. The day started off with a virtual symposium on the Grand Challenges of Water and followed by a Panel Session, “The meeting of wisdoms between indigenous ancestral knowledge systems and western empirical sciences.” The students and faculty then separated into working sessions. A tour was given at this time for delegates to view the progress of the $10K WSCVP as well as the adjacent Ag2  30 Sustainable Agriculture Plots.

In preparation for the showcase of UH Hilo’s sustainable implements, Associate Professor of Horticulture Norman Arancon’s Sustainable Agriculture class (AG 230) worked together to beautify the surrounding areas and revitalize the nearby food WSCVP in progress and on its way production plots. WSCVP Project Advisor Ryan Perroy, associate professor of geography, and members of the Students of Sustainability group also provided much effort to prepare the area for Friday’s presentation.

Visit the Students of Sustainability website to learn more and get involved with UH Hilo Sustainability.

This article was originally published in the Feb 2018 CAFNRM/Agriculture Club Newsletter.