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Kansas State University

K-State Sustainability Conference Earns National Recognition

Kansas State University’s Sustainability Conference is being recognized nationally for providing the people of Kansas with information about how the higher education community can support statewide sustainability efforts.

The University Continuing Education Association has presented its Distance Learning Community of Practice Exemplary Program Award to the 2010 K-State Sustainability Conference. The award was announced at the association’s recent 95th annual national conference in San Francisco, Calif.

The 2010 K-State Sustainability Conference – the second annual – was Jan. 29-30 at the K-State Union.

Ben Champion, K-State’s director of sustainability, said the conference has established the university as a state leader in sustainability education and research.

The conferences have shown how much really great work and interest there is in sustainability at K-State, and they’ve shown that K-State has an important role to play in serving Kansas through this conversation,” Champion said.

The 2010 conference attracted more than 300 students, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across Kansas, focusing on the development of a statewide higher education sustainability network. The conference provided participants with information they could use in their own work, with a priority on how the higher education community could cooperate more effectively toward serving statewide sustainability needs.

Taking a leadership role in a new statewide sustainability network is one great way K-State can serve Kansas,” Champion said. “Our annual conference is growing into an event that the K-State community and the Kansas higher education community can rely on for the latest developments related to sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, green buildings, campus improvements and much, much more.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Debra Rowe, president of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development. Rowe’s expertise is in helping higher education institutions integrate sustainability into mission, curricula, professional development, research, student life, purchasing and investments, facilities and operations, and community partnerships.

While at K-State, Rowe led a group meeting to get the state network off the ground. A steering committee and several topical working groups were established, as well as a listserv to allow the dialogue from the conference to continue throughout the year.

The first K-State Sustainability Conference in 2009 also earned honors. The Great Plains Region of the Association of Continuing Higher Education recognized the conference’s 2009 session with its Exceptional Conference Program Award, and in September 2009 the University Continuing Education Great Plains Region awarded the conference an outstanding program award.

K-State is planning a 2011 Sustainability Conference, but the date has not yet been set. To find out more about the conference and K-State’s sustainability efforts, visit http://www.sustainability.k-state.edu.