Rowan Thrive hosts sustainability panel and discusses campus changes

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Left to right: Dr. Garett Broad, Dr. Jordan Howell, Aarushi Gupta and Jess Luptiz discuss how they contribute to making the campus more environmentally sustainable. - Photo / Maryela Gallardo

The Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park will be New Jersey’s largest public building with a net zero facility, meaning the building will use clean, renewable resources to create energy.

The goal for Rowan University’s School of Earth and Environment is to become a more sustainable campus. On Tuesday, April 18, Rowan Thrive hosted a sustainability panel in Discovery Hall at 3:30 p.m.

The four-person panel consisted of President of Rowan Environmental Action League (REAL) Aarushi Gupta, Vice President of REAL Jess Lupitz, Dr. Jordan Howell and Dr. Garett Broad. The moderator was Mariana Cardenas, the graduate coordinator for Rowan Thrive

At the start of the event, Cardenas explained the purpose of having this panel was for attendees to hear about the sustainability initiatives at Rowan University and to learn how faculty members and club leaders are taking action to promote sustainability on campus. 

The moderator then introduced the faculty members on the panel.

Dr. Broad is a first-year communications studies professor specializing in food relations and the contemporary food system. Dr. Howell works in the business department, specializing in combatting sustainability issues in businesses, and his current research consists of creating a joint program for business majors interested in sustainability. 

Cardenas asked the faculty members of the panel, “How do you engage students and faculty across different departments on sustainability initiatives?”

Dr. Howell spoke about how he engages his business students to learn about how to incorporate sustainability into their business discussions and tasks. He also talked about the difficulties in engaging faculty members outside the environmental department to hear and take part in these conversations.

“One thing that we’re rolling out next year through the College of Business, but open for all Rowan faculty, is a workshop that’s called teaching and researching with sustainable development goals,” Howell said.

He also suggested that every faculty member, no matter what class, should engage in these conversations and how they shouldn’t just be echoed throughout the environmental science department.

Following Dr. Howell, Dr. Board gave insight on how people who are pessimistic about climate change, or as he calls it, “climate doomers,” should try to be hopeful about the future.

The rise of eco-friendly buildings, programs, food production and renewable energy allows the possibility for hope. Board hopes that with informing communication majors on the climate change crisis will bring more awareness on campus, since it’s not directed to one specific group of students. 

Vice President of REAL, Jess Lupitz, talked about more opportunities that Rowan gives so those who are interested in sustainability and the climate crisis, but don’t want to take the classes, can join clubs related to it. She expanded on the student association, Net Impact. 

“It’s meant to inspire and equip emerging leaders to want to build a more just and sustainable world. That’s more in the realm of business […] we still discuss sustainability and environmental related topics, but it has more of a focus on the business corporate world,”Lupitz said.  

This can encourage any interested Rowan business major that can’t take any more classes, as the Net Impact teaches them to help create a more sustainable world.

Addressing how Rowan is striving to do the same, Aarushi Gupta explains how she sees the university’s efforts from her own perspective.

“I think a few steps that they’re taking in the right direction is starting the sustainability assessment that was talked about in the meeting today, and another huge step is a new fossil park being completely net carbon, net zero. Other than that, Rowan still has a lot to improve on with their sustainability, for example they need to understand where their food is coming from,” Gupta said.  

This panel was able to give attendees ample information on how to be a part of the fight for more sustainability on campus. After the panel ended, attendees were given a tour of the community garden located between Magnolia Hall and the Edgewood Park Apartments. Those that did not attend can learn more about upcoming events involving REAL on their Instagram page @rowanenviro.

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