Ohio University

Office of Sustainability announces spring Sustainability Hub Seminar Series

Published: February 11, 2021 Author: Sam Crowl

Ohio University’s Office of Sustainability announces the spring semester Sustainability Hub Seminar Series. Seminars will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams at 5 p.m. on the third Mondays of February, March and April.

The Series will kick off on Feb. 15 with the Sustainable Living Hub Seminar. The Living Hub covers the sustainability themes of Transportation, Grounds, Food and Student Life, and this semester’s seminar will focus on finding alternative transportation that leads to greater sustainability in the community. 

Sustainable Living Hub Coordinator Dr. Kim Thompson will be joined by Tia Hysell, director of transportation and parking services at Ohio University, who will share ways that campus and community members can find more sustainable and less expensive means of transportation. The seminar will be interactive and will help participants understand the variety of options available in Athens and the impacts that transportation choices have on the environment.

The series will continue on March 15 with the Sustainable Administration Hub Seminar. Hub Coordinator Dr. Ryan Fogt will be discussing sustainable investment. The series will conclude on April 19 with new Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Coordinator Dr. Jesus Pagan leading the seminar on a topic from the Hub’s themes of Energy, Waste, Water and Buildings.

Ohio University’s Sustainability Hub coordinators completed a successful fall 2020 Sustainability Hub Seminar Series by taking advantage of the virtual opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual Hub seminars held in September, October and November averaged over 70 attendees, an approximately 55 percent increase over the fall 2019 semester seminars held in Baker University Center’s Front Room.

Emma Linn, fall events coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, credited the increase to the campus community’s adoption of online resources during the pandemic. 

“With students, faculty, staff and the local community becoming more and more used to using technology to access learning and teaching, it’s just normal now to sit at your computer to engage with these opportunities. And it’s so easy,” Linn said. “I think a lot of attendees are excited to be able to attend the seminars without leaving their homes; the only drawback being missing the enjoyment of sharing a physical space and a cup of coffee with friends and colleagues.”

In addition to a higher number of attendees, Linn believes the online format also encourages a more diverse audience, one not entirely made up of students.

“While monitoring the participants of the seminars, I noted a number of faculty and staff in attendance who I hadn’t seen at the Front Room seminars last year,” Linn said. “Our seminars start at 5 p.m., which in normal times can be a time of travel for some employees, but if they are already home it’s much easier to participate.”

The use of technology to connect the community to sustainability initiatives at the university also broadened the reach by Hub coordinators to seminar guest presenters. Sustainable Infrastructure Hub Coordinator Dr. Dave Bayless arranged for OHIO alumnus Alex Burke to present on energy initiatives. Burke, energy procurement and environmental sustainability advisor at Cardinal Health, lives in Columbus and could easily join the seminar without having to travel to Athens.

Allison Shryock, marketing and social media coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, believes that the wider reach to both seminar presenters and audience has contributed to a boost in social media followers. 

“We’ve seen a consistent uptick in engagement with our social media accounts over the past year in terms of followers, tags, posts and overall engagement,” Shyrock said. 

The Office of Sustainability plans to eventually return to in-person events that also incorporate a more intensive effort to connect with people through virtual platforms, Shyrock added.