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Windward // Windward Oahu Coverstory
Rachel Breit

Sustainability Strategy Summit Opens At WCC

The University of Hawaii System’s “Sustainability Strategy” proves that green isn’t merely among the university’s colors – it’s been moved to the fore-front.

As part of the strategy, the university will host the second annual Sustainability in Higher Education Summit Thursday through Saturday at Windward Community College, where students from all 10 UH campuses will explore the concept of “maintaining ecological balance by conserving natural resources.”

The summit is open to Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade and all UH system faculty, staff and students, and others interested in sustainability and the direction educational institutions are taking.

Highlights include a keynote address Thursday night by Mitchell Thomashow, director of the Second Nature Presidential Fellows Program, a national network of colleges focused on sustainability education, and the author of the newly published The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus. Also planned are forums for students and stakeholders on measuring progress and service learning opportunities, such as wetland restoration.

Fees range from $15 for Saturday morning activities to $250 for the full three days. The student forum Saturday afternoon is free. Deadline has been set for March 10, but to inquire about updates in registration, visit web.hawaii.edu/sustainabilitysummit or call Daita Serghi at 646-283-5048.

In January, the UH Board of Regents amended the university’s mission statement, for only the second time, to reflect a commitment to sustainability, a decision with the potential to put UH on the map as a global leader in sustainability, particularly since Hawaii’s unique and fragile island ecosystem could serve as a microcosm of “Island Earth.”

The amendment means sustainability will be incorporated into curricula system-wide, providing students with tools for a changing planet and an uncertain future.

“Sustainability cuts across every single major,” said Krista Hiser, associate professor at Kapiolani Community College and member of a task force on sustainability education.

“Every student in college needs to understand the science of climate change, especially its impact in Hawaii.”

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