The Quinnipiac University Sustainability Planning Committee held a town hall forum on Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 9, outlining its seven major recommendations, which will be presented to the school’s Board of Trustees on Sept. 15.
Courtney McGinnis, associate professor of biology and co-chair of the committee, began the meeting by establishing the committee members’ vision.
“In alignment with the university’s strategic plan, our community will advance environmental sustainability by being a model steward for our own natural resources,” McGinnis said. “By educating our students, faculty and staff to be proactive in their efforts to advance sustainability and their professional and personal lives, we will partner with local and regional communities to achieve outcomes that support the long-term sustainability of our planet.”
There was an overflow of responses when Quinnipiac community members were asked what they wanted to see from the university in terms of functioning and thriving in a more sustainable way. The committee members focused on seven main recommendations that would hopefully lead the university on the right path toward “bigger picture” success, according to John Reap, associate professor of mechanical engineering and member of the committee.
“One thing to remember about a strategic plan is that it’s strategic, that the idea is not to focus on any particular smaller initiative, but to think of the big moves the university needs to make towards sustainability,” Reap said.
These seven signature recommendations include the implementation of environmental studies majors and the integration of climate change into the university’s essential learning outcomes. An Office of Sustainability on campus is needed and was highlighted during the meeting. It would oversee the implementation of a greener future at Quinnipiac.
Ephemia Nicolakis, a first-year public relations and graphic design double major, joined the call because she is working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award for sustainability in religious communities.
“I thought QU’s approach was great and they have a lot of great ideas to implement,” Nicolakis said.
Others were more critical of the lack of specific intentions to include diversity in these conversations. Carol Awasu, professor of social work, commented in the chat asking about Quinnipiac’s efforts to acknowledge and remedy the connections between environmental sustainability and anti-racism.
“What QU connections are recommended regarding linkages to local, regional communities who are working on these issues and are also inclusive of the work of POCs?” Awasu asked.
Sean Duffy, professor of political science and chair of the committee, responded by referring to the three main pillars of the project — living, learning and leading sustainability within the campus community.
“I think our strategic plans have allowed us to try to create at least a little bit of connectivity between, or this intersectionality that you mentioned,” Duffy said. “The strategic plan directly addresses the way that Quinnipiac intends to be an open, inclusive and equitable community. And trying to think about how this sustainability initiative connects to that part of the Quinnipiac plan is one way to address or to try to connect with the crisis in equity and inclusion in our society.”
The sustainability committee closed by sharing its plans to make sustainability prominent at Quinnipiac through increasing social media presence on Instagram @qusustainability and spreading the word to students and faculty.
McGinnis held firm to the committee’s missions.
“Regardless of what field a student chooses to be in, we have to do our best work by educating around the issues about sustainability, about inclusion, about access to resources that vary depending on the environment that you live in,” McGinnis said.