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Sustainability Mindsets Provide Inspiration
UMD Sustainability Inspiration Awards were presented to Dr. Geoff Bell and student Madelaine Sinclair this past spring.
The Sustainability Inspiration Award acknowledges significant contributions to sustainability efforts at UMD, including but not limited to: sustainability awareness, education, and leadership efforts, energy savings, greenhouse gas reduction, waste minimization, local agriculture and economy, and other resource-saving activities.
Bell, Associate Professor of Strategic Management, received the Faculty Sustainability Inspiration Award for demonstrating leadership in establishing, promoting, and/or advancing sustainability in education on campus. Bell has been an ardent supporter of sustainability on the UMD campus. To create an awareness among his students about issues related to sustainability from an organizational perspective, he created a new and extremely engaging course (MGTS 4463: Foundations of Sustainable Management). He co-chairs LSBE’s sustainability committee, where he champions not only curricular initiatives on sustainability but also day-to-day tactical issues such as recycling bins within the building and their placements.
Bell played a leadership role in designing and implementation of a new, cross-disciplinary minor in Sustainable Business and Organization. This minor draws courses from several disciplines, including Management Studies, Accounting, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Economics.
Many LSBE students have been directly impacted by taking Dr. Bell’s Sustainability class. The students not only learn about sustainability, but they also get to practice it. In one exercise, students develop and implement a plan for reducing their own carbon print. One of his students noted: “You do meaningful work by teaching Sustainability, and I have learned that the topic has so many more facets than I originally understood. I enjoyed this class because it was about exploring the topic, not just memorization.”
Bell also volunteered his class for the first ever collegiate unit Garbage Audit, where students did a detailed analysis of the garbage generated in LSBE and presented a report to the collegiate administration on their findings. The garbage audit increased awareness among faculty and staff about their personal recycling habits, and changes will be implemented for better waste control.
Bell is excited about all the progress LSBE and UMD have made on sustainability education, but acknowledges there is much more to do. “Sustainability in many ways is a journey; not a destination,” Bell said, “and I am excited to help both the School and the Campus along their journeys of introducing students to the exciting opportunities and challenges sustainability will present them throughout their careers and lifetimes.”
Sinclair, a spring graduate with a dual major of Finance and German Studies, was awarded the Student Sustainability Inspiration Award, which honors a current undergraduate student from UMD who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability in education, operations, and/or any aspect of campus life.
“I think of sustainability as being a balance of our social and economic needs within our environmental world so as to sustain our resources for generations to come,” said Sinclair. “For me, sustainability is something that is present in every aspect of our daily lives, no matter who we are.”
With the UMD Solar University Network (SUN) Delegation, Sinclair has helped guide the UMD investment in solar energy and presented the group’s work on solar expansion on campus and in the community to the Isaak Walton League, the University for Seniors (Climate of Hope course), the UMD Student Association. Sinclair has presented at the national Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference on her work with the SUN Delegation as well as her work with a fellow student on the application of the Diffusion of Innovations Theory to student engagement in sustainability.
As an active SUN Delegation member, she traveled with staff and faculty on an international sustainable practices and renewable energy research trip (Europe Energy Transition Tour). She played a leadership role in the German Culture and Sustainability course with Dr. Dan Nolan in Fall 2017 to help deepen the impact of learning for everyone in the class. Madelaine focused her research project on a comparison of a local sustainability-focused community organizations with a similar organization in our partner city in the Climate Smart Municipalities Program. By comparing Ecolibrium3 and the Energy Club of Siegen, Germany, Sinclair and her research team were able to produce concrete recommendations and derive important real-world lessons from her international comparative analysis of these organizations and the societies in which they function.
Sinclair has also served as a valued employee in UMD's Sustainability Office for almost three years, leading efforts to organize events and connect the campus and community. Most recently she played a lead role in organizing “SELFsustain 2018,” a U of MN system-wide student leadership conference on sustainability.
“I would like my fellow students (and everyone) to know that their personal actions add up and make a tangible difference,” said Sinclair. “UMD's carbon footprint is almost 90% energy usage. Expanding renewable energy at UMD is a fantastic option to assist in tackling the reduction of our footprint, but to reduce the amount of energy we use is an even better option. The infrastructure is in place at UMD to make sustainable choices easy. UMD Dining is an incredible partner to sustainability and almost all of the packaging from a meal is compostable (as of this semester, the Coke cups, lids, and straws are too!). All you have to do is put it in the right bin. It's that easy!”