Last semester, students and faculty represented Missouri State and the Sustainability Department at the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) in Spokane, Washington. The students were Kenya Reeves, Biology Major and President of Green Student Alliance, and Talita Primo Menezes, graduate student of Professional Studies and Treasurer of Green Student Alliance. They were joined by Sustainability Coordinator Doug Neidigh, Graduate Assistant Megan Brannen, Assistant Professor Bernard Kitheka, Chief Sustainability Commissioner Mackenzie Morris, as well as AJ Aumann.
“It was a great experience to network with universities around the country and also globally,” says Talita, “and we can apply some of their strategies to Missouri State.”
Mackenzie Morris agrees that the knowledge gained at AASHE can greatly benefit Missouri State. She believes that MSU is already taking great strides in the right direction by “passing the Waste Audit proposal through the Sustainability Fund,” as well as reducing plastic in dining halls.
Morris believes that by actively reducing consumption and diverting waste, MSU could better emulate its Public Affairs Mission.
The research presented by Talita and Kenya surrounded students attitudes towards sustainable education at MSU. The two used planned behavior theory to understand current student’s pro-environmental attitudes and habits. They created a survey to measure what students currently know about sustainability, as well as what aspects are lacking. The survey consisted of sixteen questions on a 5-6 point Likert scale. Questions asked students how often they practiced certain eco-friendly habits as well as the extent of their knowledge on certain subjects related to sustainability.
According to AJ Aumann, meeting students from around the country helped to show her how achievable it is to work towards having zero waste and reducing carbon output.
Members of the Green Student Alliance and MSU’s campus will benefit greatly from the networking efforts of the attendees of AASHE.
Everyone who attended AASHE agreed that learning about how other universities were working towards being entirely energy efficient was incredibly eye-opening. They believe that MSU has great potential to follow in a similar path.
Mackenzie Morris summarizes the conference best with her statement; “It opened my eyes to how important it is that we all do everything we can to mitigate the effects of climate change and showed me that universities all over the world are already making huge strides in sustainability.”
To read more about the AASHE conference and AASHE stars, click here.