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Students Provide Viewpoint at System-wide Sustainability Summit

October 31, 2017

The first UM system-wide IonE Sustainability Education Summit brought two LSBE students to the podium. 

Meghan Hurley and Chris Larsen, students of Associate Professor Geoff Bell’s Sustainable Management class last spring, presented at the summit. Faculty members presented from other UM campuses. While, UMD could have also had faculty speak, they chose to go with students, because UMD has a core teaching philosophy of providing experiential learning. “Many students from all across campus have outstanding project-based learning opportunities, and we chose to highlight them,” Bell said. Hurley also was the MC for the UMD portion of the morning’s conference.

The students presented the results from their class projects, which involved reducing their carbon footprints while saving money. Hurley, a senior with dual Organizational Management and Marketing majors, had not printed any reading materials for the entire semester. Larsen, a senior with an Organizational Management major, reduced his driving speed from 65 to 55 mph for his hour-long commute to UMD.

 “I hope that listeners took away the fact that sustainability is not about reactive measures, but preventative measures from the beginning,” said Hurley.

 Added Larsen, “It’s the bigger picture of showing people how even doing something that seems so small can make a bigger difference than they previously thought.” 

Presenting at such a high profile event was both daunting and fun.

“Even though I am a UMD student, I felt as though I was representing students from the entire University system as no one else had student speakers,” said Hurley. 

“As someone who is very new to sustainability,” said Larsen, “it was a bit scary for me to talk at the conference because all the people there are very passionate about sustainability.”

 Larsen’s presentation went off without a hitch, and he even made it more engaging. “I hope I woke them up a bit with my jokes and made the summit feel much more personal.”

The two have learned many things about sustainability, from classes and the summit, including the breadth and depth of the discipline. “Something I took away from the conference is how many jobs there are and can be within the field of sustainability,” said Larsen.

“I walked away with more perspective on sustainability as a whole,” added Hurley. “I am very familiar with it in terms of a business setting but not from a cultural or engineering standpoint. So, I enjoyed hearing about sustainability from different viewpoints. 

More information on IonE’s Sustainability Education program can be found on their website,