The University of Wisconsin Office of Sustainability will host its fifth annual Earth Week from April 18-24 with a series of in-person and hybrid events to engage the campus community with topics surrounding sustainability.
The events are important for the community to connect with sustainability on a deeper level. Many people are overwhelmed by constant information, so it can be difficult to dig into topics of sustainability or celebrate the positive progress in the field, Office of Sustainability Assistant Director and Communications Director Nathan Jandl said.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and concern about the things that are happening in this field, whether it’s climate change, or plastification of our oceans, or toxic waste or the lack of biodiversity, it can actually be a pretty depressing space,” Jandl said. “And I think what Earth Week does is, though we are talking about some of those depressing topics, it allows us to feel more engaged and be able to move forward together.”
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The first event for Earth Week will be Monday’s Solar Agriculture Networking and Info Session from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Deluca Forum in the Discovery Building. The event will also be streamed online. Jandl said there will be a presentation from project partners for a research project on Kegonsa Research Campus.
The project will consist of a solar array that coexists with agriculture. Jandl said plants will grow under and around the panels. He’s excited for this event because it fits with UW’s historical commitment to agriculture while moving forward with renewable energy.
Wednesday will feature a talk on food justice from the Amplifying BIPOC Voices in Sustainability Series. Jandl said this event is important to amplify BIPOC voices in a space that traditionally excluded them.
“It helps to reinforce the social sustainability component of sustainability, because sustainability is often kind of considered in these three pillars — environmental, economic and social,” Jandl said. “And social is the last one said and it’s often the last one considered, but it includes issues of equity and affordability and diversity and inclusivity and so this is an opportunity to think about that with some great speakers.”
Earth Week has partnerships with 20 student organizations, departments and offices around campus, Jandl said, and lots of students will likely have ties with Earth Week one way or the other.
Jandl looks forward to student involvement in Earth Week events as an important aspect of the Office of Sustainability’s mission.
“I think that engaging people now about sustainability is important so they can figure out how they want to incorporate it into their lives going forward,” Jandl said. “We want to help be sort of a core piece for people, [so] that they understand what sustainability means, the breadth of it and how they can be involved.”