Category: Events (page 1 of 73)

Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities conference recap

I was lucky enough to attend the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities conference at the University of Georgia, Athens, in the beginning of November. The 2018 theme, Arts Environments: Design, Resilience, and Sustainability, explored the relationships between artistic processes and environmental practices.

A recurring topic discussed in panels and plenaries was art as a way to communicate science. Art can inspire a sense of wonder, thereby imparting value on parts of the world we regularly ignore and degrade. Combining artistic and scientific research methods fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration. However, employing art as merely a design tool runs the risk of translating ideas without recognizing art as its own investigative process.

To create a culture and center for combining art and science, equal time must be spent on social, active, and reflective steps, which form a cycle and build off of each other. For example, a social event where members of a university meet each other across disciplines and roles should precede an activity where people develop relationships through shared projects. Then, intentional time to reflect on the process allows for growth and change.

Below are a few sessions that I found especially inspiring:

Artful Rainwater Design:

This speaker gave numerous examples of how sculpture, landscape design, and infrastructure can be used to both conserve water and to help people visualize and appreciate the water cycle. Art is used as a strategy for humans to collaborate with the environment.

High Tide: Public Landscape Art Installation by Carolina Aragon in Boston’s North End

https://www.umass.edu/magazine/fall-2016/time-and-tide

Carolina Aragon described her approach of “making very pretty things about very scary topics.” Through a study using social science data collection techniques, she discovered the importance of site-specificity, or making art in a location that directly addresses the experiences of the population in that location. The sculptural installation illustrates future sea levels in a Boston neighborhood.

Tyler School of Art. Dye Garden

https://tyler.temple.edu/blog/natural-dye-garden-temple-community-garden-fibers-and-material-studies-program

Students, faculty, and administration worked together to create a visible, functional garden at the Tyler School of Art, part of Temple University. Textile and other art students will use the garden to dye materials and learn about social practice, gardening, and the history of certain plants, especially cash crops’ ties to slavery and race.

If you are interested in how art is used in research, consider attending next year’s conference, titled “Knowledges” at the University of Kansas.

The Future of Carbon Neutrality at Tufts

At the beginning of November, the Tufts Office of Sustainability along with Tufts Capital Projects and GreenerU planned and executed a community engagement event with students, staff, faculty and the local public. The goal was to educate participants about what’s already happened with sustainability and carbon neutrality on the Tufts campus and to inform about what’s planned for the coming years. We also wanted to understand community priorities, concerns and areas of interest for future sustainability efforts. More than 60 people attended, 2/3 of whom were students!

During the event, participants walked through a maze of info posters to review all of our sustainability initiatives, progress and plans throughout the Medford campus. There were several interactive posters that attendees marked up with color coded stickers and sticky notes. (If you would like to see the questions and add your input, click here for the online version!) There were also several small break-out sessions for people who wanted to have more in-depth discussions about the process, goals and staying informed.

Some findings from the event:

  • 100% of participants said they believe carbon neutrality is a worthwhile pursuit
  • There was strong support for divestment from the fossil fuel industry
  • People are concerned that our goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 isn’t acting fast enough
  • Other hopes included more of a focus on renewable energy and social/environmental justice initiatives
  • The community would like to stay involved and informed, especially around short term goals/benchmarks

Don’t forget to take a look at the video from the event, and check out some pictures and the info posters here!

 

Zero Waste Week

interns with zero waste week bags

When we throw away our trash, it does not just go “away.” It goes into a landfill. You might have seen people carrying around clear ziplock bags full of trash on their backpacks this week. Instead of disposing of their waste immediately, where it is out of sight an out of mind, Zero Waste Week participants will collect their landfill-bound waste for one week to visualize how much we contribute to that landfill. How much trash do you think you produce in a week?

Guidelines:

  • Place all non-recyclable, non-compostable waste into the plastic bag.
  • Compostable and recyclable items should be properly sorted into their respective toters or bins.
  • We include disposable plastic water bottles in our bags, since 50 billion of them were bought in the US last year. Carry your reusable water bottle instead!
  • Do not include bio-hazards

Zero Waste Week stories from OOS interns:

Michaela: Zero Waste Week has compelled me to start composting my Kleenex because I didn’t want to see them go into my bag. So now I have a compost in my bathroom.

Ana Sophia: I have a Keurig coffee machine and so I feel bad about having so many K cups in my bag. I’m going to look into finding reusable cups where you just fill it up with coffee.

Isabel: Most of my waste would come from food, but I buy a lot of my food in bulk, so I don’t have a lot of packaging waste. I found out that some granola bars I eat are not foil-lined, so I cannot put them in the terracycle.

Maria: I have not started Zero Waste Week until today. Last year, the wind blew my bag off of my back pack on my way home. I was so worried that I had littered a whole bag of trash. But later that night, I retraced my steps and found it snagged in a bush. I was on my way to a concert, where I was pretty sure they wouldn’t let me in with my trash bag, so I stashed it in another bush, and picked it up on my way home to continue with my Zero Waste Week.

 

2018 Green Office Certification And Eco-Ambassador Ceremony And Reception

Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

On Thursday, July 12th, the Office of Sustainability held a ceremony and reception for new Eco-Ambassadors and Green Offices. Sustainability-minded employees from all four of Tufts’ campuses convened to be recognized by Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco in the Coolidge Room of Ballou Hall.

Throughout the historic room, attendees could view posters with information about the Green Office and Eco-Ambassador programs as well as information about Tufts’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Offices were also able pledge to reach a higher level of Green Office certification in the future and write down any ideas they had about ways Tufts could be more sustainable. Some submitted ideas included reducing the use of plastic water bottles and the frequency of leaf blowing around campus.

Attendees mingled, exchanged ideas about sustainability, and enjoyed a delicious spread courtesy of Tufts Catering.

Shoshana Blank making her opening remarks (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

Shoshana Blank, the Office of Sustainability’s Education and Outreach Program Administrator,  then gave the opening remarks. Outlining the history and descriptions of the Green Office and Eco-Ambassador programs, she emphasized the important role the employees being recognized at this ceremony play in furthering sustainability efforts and creating a culture of sustainability at Tufts.

President Monaco recognizing sustainable initiatives at Tufts (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

She then introduced President Monaco, who began by highlighting in detail many of the operational and institutional changes being made to make Tufts’ campuses more sustainable, such as the newly LEED Gold certified SEC and the Central Energy Plant that will help reduce Tufts’ emissions.

President Monaco went on to emphasize that the grassroots efforts on the part of the Eco-Ambassadors and Green Offices are equally important in developing a culture of sustainability and engaging sustainable behaviors in students and other employees. The synthesis of efforts from both the administration and grassroots levels helps further sustainability goals at the university.

 

President Monaco awarding a Green Office certificate to the Fletcher Office of Admissions Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

President Monaco presented all of the offices that were certified or re-certified as Green Offices this year with their respective certificates depending on the level they attained. This year’s new Eco-Ambassadors were also called up to be recognized and for a group photo.

New Eco-Ambassadors group picture! (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

As a part of the ceremony, two Eco-Ambassadors were called up to share their stories about how they have helped make their offices more sustainable. Misha D’Andrea, from the SMFA’s Office of Admissions, explained how she learned about sustainability efforts at Tufts during her new employee orientation. Excited, she immediately started working with her fellow staff member Brianna Florio to get their office Green Office Certified – a first for the SMFA campus. Misha and Brianna also became the SMFA’s first Eco-Ambassadors.

Misha D’Andrea speaking about sustainability efforts at the SMFA (Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

Together, they helped make their office more sustainable by promoting compost, green commuting, using recycled paper, and other small sustainable changes staff members could easily make. In addition, they helped make Jumbo Day, the SMFA’s accepted students day, a zero-waste event by purchasing compostable plates, cups and utensils through an Eco-Ambassador grant. They also joined the SMFA Sustainability Task Force, spearheaded by a SMFA faculty member, that is made up of faculty, staff and students who want to make the campus more sustainable.

Freedom Baird from the Medford/Somerville campus Educational Technology Services recalled feeling pleasantly surprised that sustainability was a part of her new employee orientation. For her, this represented the university’s recognition of sustainability as an important issue and part of the campus culture. Excited, she immediately reached out to Shoshana and joined in on the Eco-Ambassador training.

Photo: Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University

Thinking of ways she could help her office become more sustainable, Freedom noticed that her building purchased large 5 gallon bottles of water that had to be replaced frequently. She began putting together a survey to see if people in her building would be willing to switch to a water filtration system instead, which would greatly reduce plastic waste.

In crafting the survey, she used many of the tips from her Eco-Ambassador training. Freedom demonstrated to everyone at the ceremony how difficult it was to replace the large containers of water every time a new one was delivered through a dramatic performance. She noted that not having to do this anymore was a big sell for purchasing a water filtration system instead.

The event was a great way to celebrate individual employees and offices working to make Tufts a more sustainable place. Learn more about the Green Office Certification program and the Eco-Ambassadors program on our website.

Boston Campus Zero Waste Picnic

Another president’s picnic, this time on the Boston campus! Although it was forecast to rain, we luckily didn’t feel a single drop throughout the duration of the event.

As with all of our zero waste events, all of the trash bins normally available in the green space next to the Jaharis Building for Biomedical and Nutrition Sciences on the Boston campus were covered so that attendees would not be able to use them.

Something that was different about this particular zero waste event was that everything given to the attendees including cups, plates, utensils, and napkins were all completely compostable. While we usually have both recycling and composting toters at our zero waste events, at this event we simply needed to direct people to place all their used items and leftover food into the compost.

Michelle with the free reusable sandwich bag she got for bringing her own place setting!

As has become tradition, we handed out free sandwich bags to the lucky first 50 people who came to the Office of Sustainability’s table with their own reusable place settings from home (or from their office!).

President Monaco picking the raffle winner!

 

Additionally, everyone who brought a component of a reusable place setting was invited to enter our raffle. President Monaco picked the lucky winner, Dorothy Vannah, the director of the Simulation Learning Center at Tufts School of Dental Medicine.

The lucky winner with her new lunchbox!

In addition to handing out flyers about commuting benefits and becoming an Eco-Ambassador, we also had Michelle Lee-Bravatti, a second-year graduate student at the Friedman School help spread the word about the new composting program at the Boston campus that she initiated this past spring. Not only are there composting bins in several locations throughout the Boston campus, individual offices can also inquire about getting an office composting bin. Be sure to contact michelle.lee_bravatti@tufts.edu for more information.

Next week, we’ll be in Grafton for the final President’s Picnic of the year!

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