Divestment Campaign at Harvard; Mini-Conference Reporting


From Democracy Now!

Momentum is growing in the movement to divest from fossil fuel companies. On Thursday, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the industry for its role in driving climate change. Meanwhile, nearly 100 members of the faculty at Harvard University released an open letter calling on the Ivy League school to sell off its interests in oil, gas and coal companies. “If the Corporation regards divestment as ‘political,’ then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them,” wrote the professors. 

April 9 “Onward on Climate” Followup

I had a good meeting on April 15 with Penn State senior political science major Scott Patterson, one of the student organizers of the April 9 Onward on Climate forum held at the Kern Building. The event was a joint project of Scott’s group – Organizing for America – and Fossil Free Penn State; it was the first public event for both groups, which each got official club status around January of this year.

Organizing for America works on a variety of issues; Scott is leading the climate efforts and his summer plans include working with Mike Rybacki on the Georgetown University Energy Prize project and on a crowd-sourced “solar raising” project to purchase and install solar panels at Greenmoore Gardens CSA farm while training students to install solar power systems – similar to the new crop mob program giving Penn State students hands-on training in sustainable agriculture skills.

Scott mentioned that Sam Richards, faculty advisor to World in Conversation, recently began climate change discussions around the question “Where does the average Penn State student stand on climate change issues?” I’ll be following up with Richards to gather more information about that.

Scott said Fossil Free Penn State is a new student group launched by a group of freshmen led by Nathan Larkin. Scott’s understanding is that many of the Fossil Free students knew each other in high school, worked on climate issues before arriving at Penn State last fall, and are focusing their efforts on Penn State divestment from fossil fuel corporations. I hope to connect with Nathan soon to gather more info about their background and plans.

April 11 “Getting to Zero” Followup

I’ve already reached out via email to a handful of participants in the faculty-organized mini-conference held last Friday, requesting written feedback about the event. I’m interested in publishing substantive feedback (not PR spin) from any participants: issues discussed; content of discussions; decisions made; next steps planned.

Following is a list of the people who took part in each workshop. If you are (or know) these people – and you support public accountability and transparent governance for Penn State faculty, students and administration – please write (or encourage them to write) a few paragraphs and send them along for publication.

I’ll collect and format all submissions received by April 27, and publish them in the April 28 issue of Steady State College.

Physical Plant Retrofitting:

  • ROB COOPER, Director, Energy and Engineering, Office of Physical Plant
  • JESSICA FATICA, Administrative Support Assistant, Dean’s Office, Liberal Arts
  • KEVIN GOMBOTZ, PE CEM, Director of Commercial Services, Envinity, Inc.
  • MARK. D. HUNCIK, Air Quality and Meteorological Consultant
  • JASON MOORE, Operations Engineer, Office of Physical Plant
  • RAYMOND NAJJAR, Professor of Oceanography, Department of Meteorology
  • JAMIE QUAIL, Student, Psychology
  • ERICH SCHIENKE, Lecturer, Energy & Mineral Engineering
  • GORDON TUROW, Director, Campus Planning and Design, Office of Physical Plant

Investing in Existing Technologies for Alternative Energy Production:

  • JAMES BRASSEUR, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics and Founding Chair of the APS Topical Group on the Physics of Climate
  • JEFFREY R. S. BROWNSON, Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering, lead for the Solar Option within the RESS program.
  • MARY EASTERLING, Associate Director, Metrics and Assessment, Sustainability Institute
  • JASON GROTTINI, Director of Operations & Business Development, Envinity, Inc.
  • ANDY LAU, Associate Professor, Engineering Design
  • LAURA LITTLE MILLER, Senior Energy Engineer, OPP
  • NICK PRATT, Student, Energy Engineering

Promoting Emerging Technologies for Alternative Energy and Carbon Sequestration

  • DAVID W. JONES, Research Support Assistant, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • MIKE PRINKEY, Senior Energy Program Engineer, Office of Physical Plant
  • MOHAMMAD AL REBH, Student, Chemical Engineering
  • TOM RICHARD, Professor of Biological Engineering, Director of PPenn State’s Institutes for Energy and the Environment (PSIEE)
  • STEVE TREADO, Associate Professor, Architectural Engineering
  • JILL ZANKOWSKI, Student Intern, Sustainability Institute, Environmental Resource Management and Community, Environment and Development.

Assessing and Changing Carbon Intensive Practices and Cultures

  • LEE AHERN, Assistant Professor, Communications; President, International Environmental Communication Association.
  • HANNAH BRUKARDT, Administrative Support Assistant, Dean’s Office, Liberal Arts
  • JOSEPH P. CUSUMANO, Professor of Engineering Science & Mechanics
  • KENNETH J. DAVIS, Professor of Meteorology
  • BILL SHARP, Director, Transition Centre
  • JANET K. SWIM, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology
  • BRENT YARNAL, Professor of Geography

Market Mechanisms for Encouraging Greenhouse Gas Reductions

  • MELANIE BERNIER, Associate Director, Budget and Finance, Student Affairs
  • ERIK FOLEY-DeFIORE, Strategy & Planning Manager, Sustainability Institute
  • TERRY P. HARRISON, Earl P. Strong Executive Education Professor of Business and
  • Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems
  • STEVE MARUSZEWSKI, Assistant Vice President, Office of Physical Plant, leading the University’s Environmental Stewardship Strategy, Co-chairing the University’s Sustainability Strategic Planning Process and leading the efforts associated with defining and managing the campus deferred maintenance and capital renewal needs.
  • MADISON MILLER, Student, Schreyer Honors College, Business Management and Community, Environment and Development
  • SHAUN PARDI, President, Envinity, Inc.
  • RICHARD READY, Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics
  • BRANDI J. ROBINSON, Lecturer, Dutton e-Education Insititute, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, formerly worked OPP, maintaining emissions inventories for the PSU campuses. Her graduate research at Penn State focused on mitigation alternatives for University Park.

 Interfacing with Local and Regional Initiatives

  • PAMELA ADAMS, Refuse and Recycling Administrator, Centre Region Council of Governments
  • LARA FOWLER, Senior Lecturer, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, Research Fellow, Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment
  • HUGH A. MOSE, General Manager, Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA)
  • PAUL MOSER, Superintendent, Steam Services, Office of the Physical Plant
  • SYLVIA NEELY, Associate Emeritus Professor, History; first president of PA Interfaith Power & Light,
  • ALAN SAM, Environmental Coordinator/Arborist, State College Borough, responsible for coordinating various Borough sustainability initiatives.
  • TERRY SHUPP, Sustainable Communities Collaborative Coordinator, Sustainability Institute

Coordination, Planning, Communication with Partners and Administration

  • JEREMY BEAN, Associate Director of Planning, Sustainability Institute
  • VIN CRESPI, Distinguished Professor of Physics, Chemistry, and Materials Science & Engineering
  • SARINA KATZ, Student President, Eco Action; member, Student Sustainability Advisory Council; International Relations and History major.
  • MARYBETH MCGINNIS, Student Intern, Sustainability Institute; Geography major
  • SHELLEY MCKEAGUE, Environmental Compliance Specialist, Office of Physical Plant
  • DANIEL TOMASO, Graduate Student in Meteorology
  • DENICE HELLER WARDROP, Director, Sustainability Institute; Executive Director, PSIEE

What does the failure to confront climate change tell us about ourselves?

  • PETER AESCHBACHER, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture
  • SUSANNAH BARSOM, Sustainability Institute
  • MELISSA DiJULIO, Student
  • JACQUELINE EDMONDSON, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
  • ALEX LINEY, Student, English
  • IAN MARSHALL, Professor of English and Environmental Studies
  • DR. LAURIE MULVEY, Executive Director, World in Conversation Center
  • JENNY TATO, Student
  • CHRIS UHL, Professor, Biology
  • JENNIFER A. WAGNER-LAWLOR, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and English
  • GABY WINQVIST, Instructor, Department of Kinesiology


April 22 – “Growing Cities” Screening & Discussion


flierFrom Lydia Vandenbergh, Associate Director of Sustainable Practices at PSU Sustainability Institute

On April 22 at 6:30 p.m. in 121 Sparks Building, we’re holding a screening of Growing Cities, a documentary film about urban agriculture in the U.S., followed by a panel discussion with film director/producer Dan Susman and other agriculture experts. The conversation will highlight urban agriculture issues, but will also address the many complexities and controversies of today’s food systems. We believe it’s a great opportunity to model constructive dialogue and exemplify the importance of communicating across difference. The event is sponsored by the Sustainability Institute and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment.

You can find more information on the Sustainability Institute website.

Local Foods Dinner at Redifer; Upcoming Workshops


 Local Foods Dinner April 3

(From Marybeth McGinnis via l-sustainability listserve)

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 1.14.38 PM

Workshop Reminders

  • April 5 – Growing Tomatoes in Your Garden – Workshop - 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 156 West Hamilton Ave. Instructor: Matt Sullenberger. $12 per person suggested donation; proceeds go to instructor. Register by phone (237-0996) or email.
  • April 13 - Hugelkultur Build Demonstration with Jason Lilley. 1:00 p.m. at the Garden Starters plots at Millbrook Marsh. Contact Jason Lilley to sign up.


PSU 20/20 Challenge – Sign Up by March 28


Green Teams must sign up by tomorrow; individual participants must be recruited and signed up by 8 a.m. March 31.

“The two-week 20/20 challenge, from March 31 to April 11, is designed to engage faculty and staff in learning new energy conservation practices (such as turning off lights, appliances and electronics). These small behavior changes, when performed collectively, can decrease Penn State’s environmental impact. Participating reduces energy waste, helping Penn State achieve its dual goals of a 20% reduction in overall energy usage over the next 10 years and a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (over 2005 levels) by 2020.”

  • Action 1: Turn off your office lights when leaving any unoccupied room
  • Action 2: Put your computer to “sleep” when not in use
  • Action 3: Put printers/copiers to sleep with the “save energy button” after use
  • Action 4: Take the stairs instead of the elevator (if you are able)
  • Action 5: Turn off coffee makers, microwaves and computers (if your IT staff allows) over the weekend
  • Action 6: Unplug those appliances/electronics with “phantom” electricity loads such as personal printers.

Additional actions:

  • Use natural light instead of a desk lamp
  • Replace incandescent with compact fluorescent bulbs in desk lamps
  • Use power-operated doors only when necessary
  • Over the weekend, try at least one of the actions at home