This October, Zilkha Center staff members Tanja Srebotnjak and Christine Seibert and intern Ari Quasney (‘25) attended and presented at the virtual Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (GCSHE). Higher education sustainability conferences provide an opportunity for knowledge sharing and to network and collaborate with peer institutions. Leaders in higher education sustainability tend to be open about their sustainability challenges and success and are eager to work toward common environmental goals.
The Zilkha Center hosted two sessions during this year’s conference. Tanja and Ari’s presentation, Making Study Away Programs More Climate Conscious, explored their research on the greenhouse gas impact of William’s study away travel, and the steps being taken to reduce the emissions of study away programs. Christine presented a session titled Warming Hearts and Homes: Implementing Community Winterization Programs with peer institutions Furman University, University of Maine, and University at Albany. Their presentation highlighted each schools’ winterization programs, including Williams’ Winter Blitz. Both sessions gave an opportunity to share the challenges and successes working on greenhouse gas reduction projects at Williams.
In addition to presenting, Zilkha staff were able to attend other sessions to learn from fellow sustainability offices. Christine attended sessions ranging from incorporating DEI into internships, to reducing commuter (scope 3) emissions, to assessing the impact of EcoRep peer-to-peer engagement programs. These sessions provided insights on how the Zilkha Center can improve the effectiveness of our work – from learning California State’s recommended ratio of EVs to charging stations, to understanding how participation in an EcoRep program influences future civic engagement (there’s a positive correlation!). While conferences like GCSHE provide important technical support, just as importantly they provide the encouragement of learning from and leaning on our peer institutions. See you next year, GCSHE!
Christine Seibert is the Sustainability Coordinator at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College.