TU playing key role in global environmental conference

"An interdisciplinary understanding of the climate is not just important for the ‘environmental kids;’ it’s not just the kids in tie-dyed shirts who like to recycle…"

By Cody Boteler on April 5, 2021

In early April, thousands of university and high school students around the world will participate in 100 same-day events focused on how state and local action can help solve climate change by 2030.

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) has organized “Solve Climate by 2030,” a series of global dialog webinars for participants in 50 countries, including each U.S. state. TU will serve as the host for Maryland.

On April 7, the university will host a panel featuring Staci Hartwell, environmental and climate justice committee chair with the NAACP Maryland State Conference; Jennifer Kunze, a program manager with Clean Water Action; and Del. Jared Solomon, who represents District 18 in Montgomery County.

Other events will feature different speakers and have different focuses but all be centered on the theme of solving climate change by 2030.

“We’re not having the same conversation, but we’re talking about the same topic. I think that will be revolutionary, honestly,” says Karlee Perry, an environmental engagement fellow with the Office of Civic Engagement & Social Responsibility.

Perry, an English major from Baltimore, says she did not pay a lot of attention to environmental issues until she started attending college—and she now pays a lot of attention to the climate.

“I realized that a lot of what I care about so deeply now, I could have cared about earlier if I had been taught about it,” she says.

That’s part of why Perry says she’s so excited to be helping promote the event: She’s also working as an intern for Solve Climate by 2030.  Part of the event is encouraging teachers—from K–12 through college courses —to “make climate a class.”

Solve Climate by 2030

Register here

To register for Solve Climate by 2030: A Policy-to-Action Community Discussion, featuring panelists from the NAACP, Clean Water Action and the Maryland House of Delegates, click here.

That means dedicating one class lesson, in any subject, to how climate change affects that subject, explains Thomas Potter, president of the Student Environmental Organization and sustainability project coordinator in the Office of Sustainability.

“An interdisciplinary understanding of the climate is not just important for the ‘environmental kids;’ it’s not just the kids in tie-dyed shirts who like to recycle. It’s deeply important in anything you do,” Potter, an environmental studies major, says. “We’re a part of the environment; we are a part of nature.”

Bard CEP has teaching guides that connect climate change to everything from geography and chemistry to statistics, psychology, economics and literature.

Normally around this time, Towson University would be hosting its annual Environmental Conference, says Paddy Watson, assistant director of sustainability. Health and safety limitations led to the pivot of partnering with Bard’s CEP, she says.

Engaging in the global dialog webinars is a way for members of the higher education community and high school students in Maryland to have important conversations about climate change and local action.

Luis Sierra, assistant director for civic engagement, says TU's work representing Maryland in the global conference is creating more opportunities for students and the community at large "to have these important conversations about the future of our planet."

"I am especially proud of and excited about the major role that student leaders play, both in this event, and in environmental justice efforts as a whole, as they continue to apply their learning and their passions towards continued advocacy and civic engagement to address the environmental issues we face in our communities," he says.

Towson University is committed to sustainability and has a history of taking action at the regional level. The FoodShare Program, for example, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. TU has also been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its commitment to reducing food waste and by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to forest conservation

Chris Salice, associate professor and director of TU's environmental science & studies program, says he is proud of and inspired by the university's commitment to sustainability and the environment.

"A primary reason I moved back to Maryland, and to TU specifically, was to be part of an organization that is taking meaningful steps toward improving the environment," he says.