Sustainability efforts at IUPUI to be recognized on a global scale

IUPUI will represent U.S. higher education institutions at Vision 2045, a global climate change conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The conference brings together climate leaders from across the globe to discuss how to positively advance sustainability, climate action and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Those goals represent a wide range of issues affecting the economic, environmental and social advancement of communities around the world. Vision 2045 will take place Nov. 8 to 10, which is happening at the same time as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Jessica Davis, director of IUPUI Sustainability, and Hilary Kahn, associate vice chancellor for international affairs at IUPUI and associate vice president for international affairs at Indiana University, will travel to Scotland to represent IUPUI at Vision 2045. Davis will speak about the role of higher education in environmental sustainability, including the importance of educating and empowering the next generation, as well as IUPUI's work around the Sustainable Development Goals.

"To have that global recognition truly validates IUPUI's sustainability efforts," Davis said. "IUPUI as a campus should be really proud of the fact we've been invited to represent higher ed in the United States, as the example of what could and should happen when it comes to universities.

"This represents efforts from countless faculty and staff, all who've worked in so many ways to move the needle forward as we work to advance the SDGs on campus, not only through our operational environmental footprint but also by integrating those principles into our curriculum and engagement programs both here at home and across the globe."

IUPUI was ranked second in the nation and 28th in the world for its commitment to sustainability by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings this year. Those rankings are based on the U.N.'s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include gender equality, zero hunger and no poverty, as well as sustainable cities and communities.

"IUPUI is using the SDGs as a framework for our internationalization efforts," Kahn said. "We are working to incorporate those lessons into the curriculum through the freshman class's First Year Seminar and other courses. We also are providing faculty and staff opportunities to engage through monthly conversations focused on the SDGs, and by offering funding aimed at supporting their teaching, research and engagement.

"We hope to bridge the gap between local and global through these efforts, by encouraging our students, faculty and staff to be engaged in the world beyond our borders and work collectively toward making the world a better place."

Faculty and staff across IUPUI have been committed to working toward a more sustainable campus for years, and it goes beyond the obvious. For example:

  • On the top floor of the science building at IUPUI is a tropical oasis of sorts: a greenhouse filled with flowers and plants, many of which don't normally grow in Indiana this time of year.
  • At the top of the BS/SPEA building? 164 solar panels.
  • Do you walk by those maroon umbrellas on the picnic tables at the bottom of the steps near the BS/SPEA and University Library entrance? Those have solar panels on top to help charge your phone.
  • Ever wonder why University Hall has so many windows? The LEED Gold certified building has natural light from windows accessible to every room and cubicle. The building also has showers on the bottom floor to encourage biking or walking to work. There are actually seven LEED certified buildings on campus, and Innovation Hall will be the eighth.

The Office of International Affairs' website is showcasing just a few examples of the Sustainable Development Goals in action on the IUPUI campus. Among those highlighted:

  • Christine Picard, an associate professor at the School of Science at IUPUI, and Yunlong Liu, a professor of medical and molecular genetics at the IU School of Medicine, who are undertaking research to address the need for alternative food and feed sources through insect farming;
  • Kelley School assistant professor Amrou Awaysheh, who founded and leads the IU Business Sustainability and Innovation Lab, and
  • Becky Liu-Lastres, assistant professor with the Department of Tourism, Event and Sport Management, who is working to improve the role tourism and the tourism industry can play in slowing the effects of climate change.

And there are so many more examples. Students at IUPUI can choose from 16 degrees with ties to sustainability, as well as 10 certificates and 575 courses.

"Climate change is a problem right here and right now, and that's why we are taking aggressive, measurable steps to make a difference," Davis said. "It's becoming front and center in a lot of the decisions we make today, not only when it comes to our infrastructure, but also in how we are training and teaching the next generation. This isn't a problem for tomorrow; we have to focus on it today."

Teresa Mackin is a communications consultant with IU Studios.

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SLIDESHOW: Image from IUPUI's greenhouse on top of the science building. Liz Kaye, Indiana University
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A view of IUPUI's greenhouse on top of the science building. Liz Kaye, Indiana University
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Bikeshare on IUPUI's campus. Liz Kaye, Indiana University
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Students work at the urban garden on New York Street on IUPUI's campus. Liz Kaye, Indiana University
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A beekeeping class at IUPUI. Liz Kaye, Indiana University.
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Students work in the urban garden along New York Street on IUPUI's campus. Liz Kaye, Indiana University.
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Amrou Awaysheh works in his IU IoT Energy Efficiency Lab, housed within the Indiana IoT Lab.