UNIVERSITY PARK – There is increasing awareness that our everyday decisions have an impact on the environment and on people. This impact is often unseen and its cost (or benefit) unknown. News about electronic waste ending up in developing countries or the impact on drinking water from gas exploration makes us aware that our decisions impact people’s health and not just the environment. How can we improve people’s lives while at the same time protecting resources?
This is the question that will be explored at the 2010 Environmental Forum: “Improving Lives, Protecting Resources: The Challenge of Environmental Justice” on May 18 from 8 a.m. to noon in Alumni Hall at University Park’s HUB-Robeson Center. The featured speaker is Kristen Saacke Blunk, Director of the Penn State Agriculture and Environment Center (AEC), an initiative of the Environment and Natural Resources Institute. Saacke Blunk has 26 years of experience in environmental policy development and research: first as Environmental Manager for Tennessee’s Pollution Prevention and Environmental Awareness program, and subsequently as Executive Director of Clearwater Conservancy. Her experiences stretch beyond the borders of Pennsylvania to West Africa, Haiti and Central America, where she has found ways to address environmental problems, while simultaneously solving social inequities.
Light refreshments will be provided such as coffee, tea and baked goods. With the help of Outreach, the forum will be broadcast via PolyCom to three Commonwealth Campus locations: Penn State Harrisburg, Penn State Dickinson School of Law at Carlisle, and Penn State Greater Allegheny. To register for this free event, visit http://www.green.psu.edu/ online.
In addition to Saacke Blunk’s talk, the forum will engage the audience in interactive activities where attendees are able to meet with colleagues from other departments and units, share perspectives on the issue of environmental justice and develop solutions.
“In the past, the forum has explored sustainable purchasing and climate change among other issues,” said Steve Maruszewski, deputy associate vice president of the Office of Physical Plant and current manager of the Environmental Stewardship Key Initiative. “Sustainability is about integrating economic, environmental and social criteria into your decision-making and the Forum hasn’t yet focused on this last aspect, the social dimension. This is a really key area that addresses issues of public health, diversity, and equity.”
The Environmental Forum has been a popular event for 4 years, drawing crowds of 200 people or more because of its focus on critical issues and practical solutions.
“This event is time well spent.” said Rick Capozzi, associate in the Human Resource Development Center, “I am guaranteed an enjoyable experience with great speakers and I get real, practical information that I can use in my daily life to make a difference. It also helps me bring these values into my work and support Penn State’s commitment to sustainability leadership.”
The Environmental Forum is an annual educational event sponsored by the Finance and Business Environmental Stewardship Key Initiative and organized by the Campus Sustainability Office and a planning committee consisting of members from across campus. Every year, the Environmental Forum seeks to raise awareness among Penn State faculty and staff about critical sustainability issues and give them practical tools to implement effective solutions.
To learn more about Kristen Saacke Blunk, visit online. To learn more about Penn State’s Campus Sustainability Office and overall commitment to sustainability in research, outreach, teaching, student engagement and operations, visit online.
For more information about the Environmental Forum, please contact Lydia Vandenbergh, Campus Sustainability Office faculty and staff program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-863-4893.