PROmotion

Sustainability (and such)

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

Green Health, Global Strategies, and Tribal Voices

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on September 29, 2015

It’s shifting, our global conversation about health and sustainability. While some scholars and activists continue to argue about semantics, actual climate change case studies are now inspiring public debates about everything from anti-meat agendas to how people can adapt to crushing impacts.

The latter topic will be a focal point at ‚ÄúIndigenous Peoples and Nations Consultation on Climate Change: Defending Our Rights and Food Sovereignty on the Road to Paris and Beyond.‚ÄĚ Presented by the United Nations Development Programme and International Indian Treaty Council, this session at the fifth annual Native Food Sovereignty Summit¬†will give final feedback ¬†for an international, legally-binding agreement to curb the pace of climate change.

I will be honored to be there, at this historic occasion with traditional food producers and Tribal Nations. At previous Summits, we’ve heard about off-calendar salmon runs and widespread crop devastation; now, global ears are listening to indigenous voices about how traditional practices (such as Ojibwe rice-harvesting) can be solutions.

Green health is a work in progress, and I hope to learn more about how humans stay at the center. Let’s keep talking!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Green Health, Global Strategies, and Tribal Voices

Conferences, meh.

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on October 1, 2012

Today I’m polishing a presentation for the upcoming AASHE conference and I’m wondering why, this time, I’m dreading it. ¬†Do I fervently believe in the mission of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education? ¬†Yes. ¬†Have I benefited from previous AASHE conferences? ¬†Yes, again. ¬†Don’t I want to share my research, which is about food sovereignty and sustainability in American Indian tribes? ¬†Oh, yes. ¬†So why aren’t I looking forward to the upcoming get-together in Los Angeles, exactly?

I’m conferenced-out, especially with national/global meetings, especially about sustainability. ¬†In this era of Google circles and hang-outs, plus the question about whether big conferences are becoming obsolete, why are so many of us still spending thousands of dollars and tromping with huge carbon footprints into far-flung cities like Godzilla tourists, albeit well-meaning? ¬†(Plus, a POSTER SESSION? ¬†Seriously, hundreds of paper posters, at a sustainability conference? Really?)

A few years back I studied how the World Social Forum was creating smaller, regional events so that more people could afford to network and make incremental progress about common issues. ¬†While the Seattle version fell flat and is an excellent case study in organizational communication, the idea still burns bright: ¬†Short of the comfort of face-to-face interactions and the excitement of new venues and reunions, why aren’t we relying more on virtual sharing rather than continuing this practice of photo ops and per diem elitism?

If I’m gonna stick with AASHE, I’ll need something different next time. What if some of our $200-$600 registration fees went toward actual college projects rather than vendor booths with swag? ¬†How about holding several smaller meetings on college campuses rather than “North America’s largest campus sustainability conference” at the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center? ¬†And maybe we academics could suck it up and stay in college dorms off-season rather than at the gorgeous Westin Bonaventure?

Yes, I’m dragging my feet because it seems hypocritical to travel the planet on other people’s dimes in the name of sustainability. ¬†HOWEVER, I must confess that this whining is selective, because I’m also ¬†winging my way to Orlando next month to the upcoming National Communication Association conference. ¬†Yes, I’ll pay my own way to¬†learn stuff I either already know or can easily access, given the convention’s archive. ¬†But I pinky-swear to do a knowledge transfer when I get back, okay, just as soon as I take off my mouse ears.

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Food sovereignty, Sustainability | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Conferences, meh.

Food to Grow On 2.0

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on May 6, 2012

NOW I can see the need for sabbaticals:  Taking this break from teaching is recharging my brain and helping me build a better teaching philosophy and research agenda.   When I start again in the fall, it will be with renewed confidence and optimism about how to best juggle that slippery slope of delivering valuable content versus student-managed curriculum. 

To that end, I’m sharpening my immediate research agenda to focus on issues of sustainability and hunger.  As many of you know, I wrote a book (Food to Grow On, 1988) about healthy eating when my children were little; from there, I stepped away from an Earth Mother phase and am now looking at the effects of and solutions to empty stomachs in higher education.  Specifically, I’m studying how colleges (especially impoverished tribal colleges) are dealing with the hidden hunger amidst dorms and dining halls.

Yes, the grim statistics of ‚ÄúThird World‚ÄĚ countries are happening here.¬† While the UN has global school feeding campaigns tying food to education and sustainable development, our own students are struggling with low food security.¬† The recession, increased competition for work-study positions, and fewer services/resources are accelerating the rates of hungry students and diminishing our learning communities as a whole.¬† And we‚Äôre talking beyond ‚Äútypical‚ÄĚ broke-student behavior of living off noodles and grubbing for free snacks; several colleges, including a four-year institution in Montana, report increased student attendance at lectures because those refreshments are their one-meal-a-day. Alternately, at a community college in Washington State, faculty approached the college foundation to ask what to do with students who come to them and say they are too hungry to do their work.

So, how is your college dealing with this?  Is Student Services taking the lead with a food closet?  Are individual faculty and staff donating peanut butter and apples in scattered efforts across campus?  Do you have ways to tie into local food producers?  And how are you dealing with student shame and privacy issues amidst perceived greater needs?

Working in education is a way of public service, and the essence of public service is to solve the issues that ail our society. My goal then for this effort is to develop enough strong research to satisfy grant funders who in turn may help colleges alleviate the issue of campus hunger with one-time or long-term funding.  Nourishing our college communities is nurturing our communities, our workforce, our future. Join me, and Global Spark, in this effort, in any capacity you’d like to join.

Posted in Development, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »