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Accolades for Acara

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With its innovative work to encourage impact entrepreneurship around the world, we've always had a hunch the Acara program is something special. That hunch got some solid affirmation recently when Acara won the C. Eugene Allen Award for Innovative International Initiatives (III Award) from the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance. The award recognizes faculty and staff who internationalize their work or the work of their department. The recipients receive an award trophy and a $2,500 professional development or program assistance stipend.

Boreas Leadership Alum Gets Earth Day Spotlight

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Plenty of folks were out enjoying the overdue warmth of the spring sunshine on Earth Day yesterday -- appropriate weather and occasion for a TV news spot highlighting an IonE-supported study at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on how different landscapes affect local temperatures. The study is part of a project on the urban heat island effect, in which buildings and other urban infrastructure absorb and radiate the sun's heat, causing cities to be relatively warmer than their rural neighbors.

Brian Smoliak, a postdoctoral student in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, spoke confidently in front of the WCCO cameras as they tracked him installing temperature sensors at the arboretum. Smoliak credits an IonE Boreas Leadership Program workshop for his confidence in front of the camera.

"I attended the Boreas class called 'Interacting with the Media,' where we got to talk with media from print, TV and radio. It was helpful to get in front of people from media and practice talking about my work," he says. "They also suggested reaching out and pitching stories to the media, so that's what I did."

Smoliak contacted WCCO, suggesting that the project would make a good Earth Day story, and they agreed. "What you saw is what we got," says Smoliak about the news clip, which can viewed on the WCCO website.

The project to install temperature sensors at the arboretum was funded by an IonE Mini Grant. Smoliak's work with Islands in the Sun on the urban heat island effect is also supported by an IonE Discovery Grant.

Everything's Coming Up Rosemount

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The city of Rosemount has spring in its step -- and not just because of the change of seasons.  Just a short drive south of the Twin Cities, this fast-growing community was chosen as next year's partner in the University of Minnesota's Resilient Communities Project, an Institute on the Environment-supported program. 

RCP organizes yearlong partnerships between the University and Minnesota communities. The partnership will bring the expertise of hundreds of graduate students to sustainability-related projects identified by Rosemount city staff and community partners. Development of open space and public amenities and enhancing pride of place are some of the projects the city hopes to tackle with the help of the University's sustainability expertise.

U of M Students Compete for Honors, Kindle Fire

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Students from across the University of Minnesota will vie for top honors in the 3rd annual Sustainability Symposium this Friday, April 11, 1:30-5:00 p.m. at Institute on the Environment.

Undergraduate, graduate and professional students from such diverse programs as civil and mechanical engineering, psychology, architecture, music, finance, chemistry, animal science and more will present past and current projects, describing how their work supports or advances sustainability goals.

This year's Sustainability Symposium kicks off with a keynote address from Chuck Bennett, former vice president of Earth & community care at Aveda Corporation. Bennett, whose career spans more than two decades of corporate citizenship advocacy, will talk about "leading from every chair," the idea that everyone--no matter their level of expertise or chosen discipline--has important contributions and must be willing to engage in developing sustainability solutions if we are to be successful.

For more information about the event, visit 

www.susteducation.umn.edu/symposium2014

Photo: poster competition, Sustainability Symposium 2013, courtesy of Madeline Geifer

North St. Paul Works Toward Resilience

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The community of North St. Paul is working toward some ambitious goals with the help of University of Minnesota faculty and students, including attracting more residents and visitors to an area nature preserve and addressing the issue of an aging population growing old in aging housing stock as part of this year's Resilient Communities Project. The initiative was recently featured on the University's "Discover" page. Read the feature story by Rick Moore, University Relations writer and editor.

The Resilient Communities Project, a program of the Institute on the Environment and the Center for Urban Regional Affairs, is a year-long partnership that connects a Minnesota community with University of Minnesota expertise to tackle community-identified sustainability projects. If your community wishes to partner with RCP for the 2014-15 academic year, apply by Feb. 14.

Image by Mike Howard, courtesy of the City of North St. Paul

Can Cleaner Cookstoves Save Lives?

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A global partnership led by Institute on the Environment researcher Jill Baumgartner will investigate the health and climate impacts of advanced cooking and heating stoves as part of a three-year study on clean household energy technology in rural China.

Indoor air pollution contributes to 4 million premature deaths each year and is the single leading environmental health risk factor globally, according to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study. Half the world's people breathe in the dirty smoke from coal, wood and other solid fuels burned in inefficient cooking and heating stoves. In addition to respiratory health impacts like childhood pneumonia and lung cancer, studies point to indoor smoke as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is also a major contributor to regional and global climate warming.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.

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