Wonderful! Amazing! Great opportunity! Exciting!
These are just some of the words people have used to describe the first-ever University of Minnesota Student Sustainability Symposium. Over 40 students from nine different colleges/schools presented posters on their sustainability research.
The symposium, held October 26, 2011, at the Institute on the Environment, kicked off with a keynote address by Leo Raudys, senior director of environmental affairs for Best Buy. Leo inspired us all with his personal history of sustainability work in both the public and private sectors. He was followed by Clarence Lehman, an adjunct professor in the College of Biological Sciences, who pointed out our lives are but a minute in the life of the earth, but that a minute can be significant in the course of a lifetime. The keynote address is available here.
There were easily 100 people in attendance for the keynote and more who came later to view the posters. The posters were judged equally on three criteria:
- Did the poster get the message across quickly and easily (i.e., can a general audience understand it)?
- Was it clear how the research is related to sustainability?
- Did the poster look appealing and entice the reader to want to spend more time viewing it?
Students from the College of Design swept the awards: Congratulations to Alice Yonke, Emily Lowery and Elizabeth Turner for winning first, second and third place, respectively. These three winners each received a prize; an iPad 2 for first, Kindle Fire for second, and Kindle for third. A list of all poster titles and abstracts is available here.
The symposium was funded by an IonE Mini Grant Although the event was a one-time grant, it is my hope that the tradition continues. It is a fun and friendly opportunity for graduate students from across the University (including other campuses in the future) to meet each other and discuss their research. Students gain important peer feedback, experience with making and presenting a poster and experience discussing their work to a lay audience. Best of all, the students' diverse and insightful work is an inspiration to us all, that we can and will find solutions to the grand sustainability challenges facing the 21st century.