Bucknell Hosts 10th Sustainability Symposium

Maximus Bean, News Co-Editor

Bucknell held their 10th Annual Sustainability Symposium at the ELC on April 14 and 15. The symposium, which focused on environmental humanities, was hosted by the Center for Sustainability & the Environment, which supports making a greener campus.

The event was created as a celebration of the disciplines as they relate to the natural world, and displays the work of students, faculty and staff, organizers said.

At 5 p.m., there was a dinner in the President’s Dining room, with marked cards and opening entrees already on display. It was a private event, so only those who were specially chosen by the symposium had access to it. Meanwhile, all of the people who were participating in the symposium, those who made posters and oral presentations, set up their work in the Terrace Room and had dinner elsewhere.

The symposium began at 6:30 p.m. when the Co-Chairs of the event, Dr. Shaunna Barnhart and Dr. Milton Newberry, III began reading from their letter.

“This year’s symposium, Moving from hope to action: Building thriving communities, builds on this foundation and specifically provides faculty, staff, students, practitioners, and community stakeholders a forum to share research, teaching, creative works, and collaborations that generate dialogue on action towards creating prosperous communities,” Barnhart and Newberry said.

“Last year, we discussed the power of radical hope as the foundation of future research, teaching, and community engagement,” the Co-Chairs continued, “This year, we move forward to discussion on actions that help conserve natural and human communities, stories of challenges and achievements, and reflection on best management and collaboration practices that guide communities towards thriving futures in an ever changing world.”

President Bravman spoke following the chairs. He said “thriving is one of my favorite words because it means ‘sustainable success.’ We have a goal for our university [to thrive]. The notion of a thriving community at Bucknell is powerful to me. Being an educator means that we must have ‘radical hope’ for the future.”

Next, Bravman discussed the definition of “radical” in the Oxford English dictionary. After listing off a few definitions — as well as synonyms — he finally settled on the chemistry definition of radical, and further spoke on bringing about a chemical reaction or “change.” After that, he welcomed Dr. Curt Gervich, a professor of Environmental Science from SUNY Plattsburgh on the theme of “The Mighty Nature of Small Places.”

Gervich introduced his students, who spoke about a U.N. climate change simulation.

The first thing he did was show a picture he took of a small village in the Hani region of China. He spoke about the community in that local place, and then he mentioned how the Bucknell farm is trying to replicate those practices in their own environmental cultivation. 

Gervich mentioned many towns around the world that engaged in sustainable farming and how they benefited from it: “We see examples of [ingenuity] throughout all of these small communities throughout the world.”

He said that unsustainable communities operate under the boom or bust cycle, where times are good, and the money rolls in until it doesn’t. He then spoke about tobacco farmers who turned to squash after their tobacco farms went under.

Gervich ended his talk by detailing the hydraulic fracking issue in cities to the north, and the nuclear plant on Three Mile Island to the south.

“Lewisburg Pa. is a microcosm of the world, and all of the present problems we face are here,” he said. 

On Saturday, a numerous number of seminars and panels occurred, including Oral sessions concerning equity, diversity and the environment. There were also posters of numerous presentations from environmental students and professors alike. 

The poster competition, which dealt in different illustrated scientific studies, displayed many student-led studies. 

In the competition, Tyler Luong ’22 was awarded third place for his presentation on “Enabling the Internet of Vegetables.” In second place, Morgan Powell ’26 had a presentation about “Determining Best Practices for Bike Policy: Improving the Lewisburg Borough’s Bikeability through Community Consultation.”

In first place, Claire Marino ’23 had a presentation on “Solanum acanthophisum: a new dioecious bush tomato species from the Australian Monsoon Tropics.”

“I have spent the last several years working with Dr. Chris Martine and Dr. Tanisha Williams on describing a new species of Australian bush tomato from Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory Australia using measurements from plants in Bucknell’s greenhouse.” Marino said. 

“The results from these measurements strongly support our hypothesis that this bush tomato is a new species and separate from its two closest related species, and I am thrilled to be able to be a part of this project. I have also had the wonderful opportunity this past year to work with my mentors as well as Dr. Melody Sain on my honors thesis, which examines boundaries between other species of Australian bush tomatoes in Western Australia.”

Marino’s manuscripts and honors thesis will be submitted for publication following this semester.

Danielle Acocella ’25, who initially went to the symposium for her Geology class, said “in environmental classes, it is easy to feel hopeless as we continue to learn new consequences human actions have been doing to the environment. However, Dr. Gervich gave a very interactive and engaging talk about his views on the environment.” 

She continued, “he used games to keep the audience participating and brought a more hopeful perspective to how we can brainstorm ideas to better the environment: through sustainability and community. Overall, I really enjoyed the event and I would definitely take a class taught by Dr. Gervich.”

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