Promoting sustainbility across PNW campuses

Matthew Rietveld / The Watchdog

The Office of Sustainability is calling on the Bellevue College community to participate in the upcoming Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference or WAHESC on February 16 – 17, 2017. The conference will be held at Gonzaga University in Spokane and at Bellevue College. Because BC is acting as a co-host for WAHESC, the Office of Sustainability hopes members of the college community will actively participate in the conference.

The WAHESC brings colleges from all over the Pacific Northwest to participate in a two-day retreat to discuss the current and future direction of campus sustainability. The four goals of the conference are to advance sustainability efforts, develop a deeper understanding of sustainability, promote partnerships between colleges and outside organizations to promote sustainability and increase sustainability practices on campuses. The first WAHESC was held at Western Washington University in 2014, which saw over 450 attendees and 116 speakers.

The upcoming WAHESC’s theme will be “Caring for Our Common Home,” which was inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 letter, “Laudato Si.” In this letter, the Pope urges people “to be mindful of consumption and assert an ethic of care for our planet,” according to the WAHESC website.

To promote this theme, the WAHESC invites participating schools to submit idea proposals for sessions and workshops during the conference. The topic for these proposals are intended to promote the school’s dedication to sustainability. Topics can range from academics to planning, administration and institutional characteristics. These proposals should encapsulate the WAHESC theme.

“By submitting a proposal, students have the unique opportunity to present on their sustainability interests to other Washington and Oregon higher education schools,” said Amber Nicholson from BC’s Office of Sustainability. If approved, the submitter should also be willing to present their ideas at the conference. However, “if students don’t wish to present themselves, they can suggest ideas for the Office of Sustainability to present on their behalf,” commented Nicholson.

The proposals must be submitted to BC’s Office of Sustainability by Oct. 11 at, or directly to WAHESC by Oct. 14.

“We are a contributing co-host this year because it gives us an opportunity to showcase the great sustainability initiatives that we do at Bellevue College and be a larger part of the conversation,” explained Nicholson. Applications to attend the conference will be available soon. “Keep an eye out at the start of winter quarter for applications to attend,” said Nicholson.

In addition, October is Campus Sustainability Month. To take full advantage of this time, the Office of Sustainability is promoting the Fall Sustainability Series, which will be a fall lineup of free documentaries, workshops and field trips. More information can be found on the Office of Sustainability’s website.