Sustainability World Café brings UAH stakeholders together

Sustainability discussions

Participants rotated among tables to discuss sustainability topics.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The Sustainability World Café hosted by the Sustainability Program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) was held on April 12 at the Shelby Center.

This event brought together a diverse crowd of students, faculty, staff and Huntsville community members to collaborate on how to make UAH a more sustainable campus.

UAH Sustainability Coordinator Taylor Myers believes that "critical to any mission is aligning behind a common purpose, and this was a major step in the right direction." Myers hopes that this "social learning and educational event" will help initiate future campus policy and a new mindset on sustainability at UAH.

With the help of a graphic recorder and a moderator from the New York, N.Y.-based company ImageThink, the audience was asked questions throughout the collaboration period, including:

  • What is most important to the success of sustainability at UAH?
  • Why do we need sustainability at UAH?
  • Who will be impacted? Who benefits?
  • What action could you take today to make UAH more sustainable?
Sustainability Illustration board

ImageThink Boards that were made during the event will be on display around campus.

ImageThink

The results? Among the student suggestions were rain gardens, stronger stakeholder support and more recycling bins around campus. But there was one suggestion that transcended across all groups: a change in culture. The UAH community is made up of individuals from around the world and discovering our community’s shared beliefs was an important goal of the World Cafe.

Potential solutions to changing this aspect of UAH culture are creating more outdoor spaces so students can experience more of the natural beauty on campus and incorporating sustainability more into UAH curriculum.

Through the Sustainability Program, Myers hopes to strengthen a culture that cares about what’s outside UAH’s college buildings as much as what’s inside them.

Ankur Shah, an attendee and UAH Earth System Science student, was excited to be a part of such "constructive and inclusive conversations on sustainability." Shah believes that the World Cafe was a "huge step toward making sustainability a part of the culture at UAH" and local actions are needed on a large scale to solve global environmental issues. To Shah, "it is not optional but vital for students, faculty and staff alike" to have events like these to come up with long-term solutions.

Conversations were heightened by the amount of diversity in the room and helped people from opposite sides of campus find a common goal they could work toward. Students from each college, members of sororities and fraternities, members of diversity clubs and also environmental clubs on campus attended the event. Also present were professors and faculty from different departments.

Prior knowledge on sustainability was not a requirement. Motivation to contribute to change was the prerequisite.

"When you have intentional conversations with people who have different perspectives than you," Myers explains, "oftentimes solutions and ideas arise that otherwise would have never been thought of."

The ImageThink Boards will appear around campus to promote conversations on sustainability. If you have ideas on how you’d like to see our campus improved or have questions for the Sustainability Program, please email Taylor Myers.


Contact

Taylor Myers
 256.824.2545
taylor.myers@uah.edu

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