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Sustainability Conference

Sustainability Conference


History of the Conferences

First Conference - October 11, 2011

Chestnut Hill College  hosted its first Annual Urban Sustainability Conference for Colleges and Universities in the Delaware River Basin at the Commonwealth Chateau at SugarLoaf on October 11, 2011. The conference was co-sponsored by the Chestnut Hill College Center for Environmental Science and Sustainability, the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center, and The Academy of Natural Sciences Center for Environmental Policy. The keynote speaker was Sr. Miriam Therese MacGillis, co-founder of Genesis Farm, a pre-eminent ecological learning center where people of good will search for more authentic ways to live in harmony with the natural world and each other.

Her presentation was titled “Genesis Farm: Earth Literacy and the Role of Higher Education.” Rob Fleming, AIA, LEED©, BD&C presented “Education in the Age of Ecology.”  

The goals of the conference were:

  • to deepen the commitment of colleges and universities in the Delaware River Basin to practice sustainability 
  • to explore the possibility of networking for sustainability among colleges and universities in the bioregion
  • Panel Discussion: How Institutions of Higher Learning Can Involve the Community in Sustainability with Dr. Bob Meyers and Rob Fleming, moderated by Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark
  • Concurrent breakout sessions included
    • Operations: Waste Management, Supply Chains, Energy Consumption
    • How to Deepen the Sustainability Efforts of Colleges and Universities: Case Studies
    • Watershed Impacts and Activities with Jennifer Adkins, Executive Director, Partnership for the Deleware Estuary
    • Roundtable Discussion: Where to go from here?

Second Conference, March 14, 2013 

The Second Sustainability Conference was in the form of an EcoFilm Festival. Five films were shown consecutively in the East Parlor while experts in the topic of the film led a discussion following them. Together with the Mayor’s Office on Sustainability Coalition for Colleges and Universities, CampusPhilly and SEPCHE (Southeast Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education), the discussion included ideas about local efforts to plant trees, reduce energy consumption and become more deeply conscious of our place within the Universe. 

The films shown were:

  •  "Taking Root" tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights and defend democracy. Discussion led by Paco Vérin, PCH, AOLCP, CPD, Owner of Earthwise Landscape and Woodlands Manager of The Miquon School
  •  “I Am” is the story of a successful Hollywood director, Tom Shadyac, who experienced a life -hreatening head injury and his ensuing journey to try and answer two very basic questions. “What’s wrong with our world?  What can we do about it?”  Discussion led by Gretchen Alfonso, Moms Clean Air Force Pennsylvania 
  •  “KILOWATT OURS: A Plan to Re-Energize America by Jeff Barrie." Follow the filmmaker Jeff Barrie as he searches America’s cities, towns and countryside for solutions to the great energy problems of our day. Kilowatt Ours teaches how to dramatically reduce energy bills and improve the environment at the same time. Discussion led by: Logan Welde, Clean Air Council of Philadelphia
  •  “JOURNEY OF THE UNIVERSE” The Epic Story of Cosmic, Earth, and Human Transformation." This film was written by Brian Swimme and MaryEvelyn Tucker. Sister Miriam MacGillis appeared in it. The film was created in collaboration with a team of expert scientists, scholars and filmmakers. Today the survival of species and entire ecosystems depends upon the choices humans make. Discussion led by Sister Miriam MacGillis, OP, founder of Genesis Farm
  •  “THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY” On February 12, 2005, Sister Dorothy Stang, a 73 year-old Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, was shot six times and left to die on a muddy road in Brazil. Her murder shocked the world and exposed a sordid battle in the Brazilian rainforest. Who was thiswoman? What are the complex factors that led to her brutal murder? And what can be done about it? The answers may hold the key to the future of the rainforest. Discussion led by Marguerite Hohm a witness to a witness of God’s goodness, friend of Sister Dorothy.

Third Confrence, 2014

The Third Annual CHC Sustainability Conference hosted a keynote presentation called  “Emerging Careers in the Sustainability Sector” featuring Dr. Chris Crockett, Philadelphia Water Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Planning & Environmental Services. Two panels were presented consisting of corporate experts: Aramark, Rich Ulmer; Chestnut Hill Business Association and  GRID magazine’s founder and publisher, Alex Mulcahy; and non-profit businesses: SBN Sustainable Business Network, Executive Director Jaime Gauthier; ECA ,Energy Coordinating Agency, Director Liz Robinson; and Clean Air Council, Matt Walker.

Vendors included Weavers Way, Philly Compost, and Friends of the Wissahickon, and David Contasta, Ph.D., showed a clip of his documentary film about the Wissahickon Valley at lunchtime.

Fourth Annual Conference, 2015

For the first time, the conference was planned in conjunction with the Fair Trade Event. The theme was global climate change and its effects on all people, but especially the most impoverished. It is a cause that is championed in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, and something that truly goes hand-in-hand with the fair trade model of people, planet and profit.

There was a lecture on Laudato Si, which was led by  Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark and a team of faculty from the Science and Religious Studies departments:  Dr. Lakshmi Atchison, Dr. Patrick McCauley, Dr. Bob Meyers and Dr. Marie Conn participated.

Vendors included the SSJ Earth Center, CHC Uganda Club and Fair TRADE from Guatamala in the Rotunda.

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