Accelerating Sustainability: Utilizing Babson’s Professional Accelerator Fund
You’re telling me that I get to learn about sustainability, meet students from all over the country, and spend time in my home city? And, you’re telling me that Babson will help to get me there?
Thanks to the Babson’s Professional Accelerator Fund, I was able to attend the AASHE Conference. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference is an annual event that brings College and University faculty, staff, and students to learn and share ideas about sustainability in a higher education setting. The conference aims to allow individuals to network and brainstorm with other sustainability-minded people, and gather resources to better integrate sustainability into life at their home institution. Ultimately, participants attend to get inspired by like-minded individuals.
AASHE was a phenomenal experience for myself, and for the three other students who attended with me. We were able to attend sessions that ranged from learning about American botanists in the 1700s, to teaching students to create habitats for bees and other pollinators on their campuses. The sessions advanced our sustainability education, and we were able to simultaneously gather valuable ideas and resources to strengthen Babson’s commitment to sustainability.
When thinking about sustainability it’s easy to sink into despair. After all, there are islands of garbage floating in our oceans, bees are dying at an alarming rate, and the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million—a number cited by scientists as the point of no return for global warming. But, after attending the conference, I had more confidence in sustainability initiatives than ever. AASHE demonstrated to me that while the need for sustainability-minded people is greater than ever, the number of sustainability-minded students and educators is far higher than it has ever been. The faculty and staff in attendance are educators for future leaders, and students are in the best possible position to learn as much as they can about sustainability and to become the leaders to fix the environmental problems that have been festering for decades.
Additionally, I am grateful that AASHE happened to take place in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Growing up in Baltimore is the reason I am connected to sustainability in the first place—the citizens of Baltimore and surrounding counties are intrinsically connected to their environment. We derive our identity from the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is where we crab and fish, its’ beaches are where we spend our free time in the summers, and the Bay and connecting waterways serve as the historical basis for trade in the city. As a Baltimorean, I was taught to fight for the life of the Bay, as the Bay is what allowed my home to exist in the first place.
AASHE allowed me to remember my roots and why sustainability is so close to my heart, as well as learn how to spread my love of sustainability to others. I am beyond grateful the Babson and the Professional Accelerator Fund made it possible for me go, and hope to go back to get re-inspired and rejuvenated next year.