Sustainability strategies incorporated throughout Millersville University will be on display at an international conference in March of 2020.
Higher education leaders from 49 countries will meet for the Second Annual GUNi International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals and Higher Education conference on March 5-6, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. On the first day of the conference, they’ll hear how Millersville’s Positive Energy Fund encourages local sustainability practices through the work of faculty, staff and students.
President Daniel Wubah, along with Chris Steuer, Director of Sustainability, and Gil Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration, were selected to present at the conference after submitting a proposal to the conference board. The proposal focused on how utility rebate programs and cost savings from the zero-energy Lombardo Welcome Center help to fund community sustainability projects.
“It’s exciting to be on the stage and at a conference with an international setting,” Steuer said. “The Global Goals have been widely adopted by governments, corporations and universities around the world. It’s really inspiring to have common sustainability goals that we can all understand, support and pursue.”
GUNi, short for Global University Network for Innovation, is a network with 227 members from 80 countries. The network includes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairs in Higher Education, higher education institutions, research centers and networks related to innovation and the social commitment of higher education.
The two-day conference will center on strategies schools from around the globe are using to support the economic, social and cultural progress of their nations, regions and societies through pursuit of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
The Lombardo Welcome Center is the first building in Pennsylvania to be Zero Energy Certified by the International Living Future Institute. It produces more energy than it uses, and those cost savings, along with dollars from utility rebates secured by Millersville’s facilities department, go into the Positive Energy Fund. The fund finances faculty, staff and student-led projects that contribute positively to local and global communities using the structure of the 17 Global Goals.
“The Positive Energy Fund is unique in that it uses cost savings realized through the work of our facilities department to fund student projects that support the community under the Global Goals framework,” Steuer said. “I believe that model will be of interest to other universities and is part of the reason why we were invited to speak.”
Steuer expects to learn more than he teaches. The conference will also be a great opportunity to learn how other higher education institutions are supporting Global Goals. Higher education institutions in other countries have been quicker to adopt the Global Goals than those in the United States, though that is beginning to change.
In 2018, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network USA was launched by Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of California San Diego. The network is in place to create new online courses, educate students and the general public, work with governments, engage and empower young people and offer innovative solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s a crucial first step for the United States, because higher education institutions offer teaching programs and research activities and are powerful tools to convene leaders of government, civil society, academia and business.
Millersville has done its part in the sustainability field. In October, the ‘Ville received an Excellence and Innovation award for Sustainability and Sustainable Development from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, specific to the Positive Energy Fund as well as efforts to incorporate sustainability into course curriculum and campus operations.
Millersville was also recently recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly colleges in the U.S. for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Princeton Review Guide.
Faculty, staff and students interested in applying for grants from the Positive Energy Fund should apply by March 23, 2020. Awards will be announced in April. Additional information and application guidelines are provided on the Positive Energy Fund website.