Student governments' second sustainability summit focuses on climate change

Matthew Long
April 14, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Last month, the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG), a representative student government organization for Penn State’s 19 Commonwealth Campuses, virtually hosted its second annual Sustainability Summit. Organized and facilitated by CCSG’s sustainability committee, the summit prompted collaboration between campuses and engaged in fruitful discussions around the growing issue of climate change.

Gabe Schaefer, senior in energy engineering and co-director of CCSG’s sustainability committee, said, “I believe that this year there was real momentum among the Penn State community around climate. This summit allowed the student body at the Commonwealth Campuses to be exposed to what Penn State is currently planning to tackle this giant issue.” 

Following an introduction by Hibah Akbar, CCSG president and junior in biology, student representatives from the Abington, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny and Hazleton campuses presented on each of their respective campus’s sustainability initiatives.

Abington and Greater Allegheny both highlighted their SGA’s commitment to climate action. The SGA at Abington was one of the first campuses to endorse Penn State Climate Action’s petition to intensify the University’s efforts on climate change. Greater Allegheny carried out a climate strike on March 19.

Schaefer led a "Vision of the Future" activity, for which attendees drew their visions on what the world might look like in 30 years and showed their drawings on camera. Several of the drawings presented depictions of a more sustainable world that has taken great measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“I think students are optimistic about the future of our planet,” said Schaefer. “They are witnessing what governments and companies are currently doing to combat climate change, despite areas of the world that are already feeling its effects.”

Following this activity, the summit concluded with a panel on the intersectionality of climate change and its impact on the commonwealth and Penn State. The panelists included Charles Anderson, associate professor of biology and sustainability chair for the Eberly College of Science; Divya Jain, senior majoring in chemistry and co-executive director of Penn State Climate Action; Pam Adams, sustainability planner for the Centre Region Council of Governments, and Brandi Robinson, assistant teaching professor for energy and sustainability policy. 

The panelists brought advocacy, research, policy and education perspectives to consideration of Penn State’s climate action and provided students and participants with a more comprehensive understanding of climate change and how it is ingrained in all fields of work.

“I hope students learned how they can influence change here in CCSG, regardless of where they are," concluded Schaefer. "I also hope that they share what they learned with their fellow students so we can actually achieve the visions of the future they are hoping for.”

Last Updated July 06, 2021