SRU Earth Days program stresses personal responsibility


earth day event featuring recycled bottles art
office for sustainability logo

March 25, 2016

, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's President's Commission on Sustainability will offer a month-long Earth Days 2016 program in April, shining the spotlight on climate change, e-waste recycling, clean water and sustainability education for adults and children.

The Community Engagement Subcommittee of the President's Commission on Sustainability, the Office of Sustainability, and the Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research have teamed up this year to coordinate and promote all the sustainability-related events planned in April. The theme is "changing the world starts with your changing your little corner of it."

The program will offer more than 10 Earth Days events, including a Carnival on the Quad, campus cleanup, environmental films, tree planting and a keynote address on climate change by Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University.

paul scanlon


SRU's participation in the PASSHE UnPlugged electric energy reduction competition will be a major activity, said Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president for sustainability planning and operations, Office.

PASSHE Unplugged pits eight Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education institutions against each other in a competition measuring electrical energy consumption for three weeks.

Students, faculty and staff have been asked to implement reduction strategies. Scanlon said common ways to reduce electricity consumption include unplugging devices when they're not in use, turning lights off when possible and adjusting the thermostat.

Those who have not already done so should take SRU's Energy Pledge promising to reduce consumption. Mobile devices can now be used, it only takes 30 seconds, and there will be random drawings for prizes among those who sign up at, he said.

Scanlon said PowerPoint presentations are being posted on all the VISIX monitors on campus to raise awareness. The boards are also displaying electrical energy uses - current versus historical for the same days last year - on residence hall dashboards.

Electric meter data for the entire campus will be gathered for the three-week competition. Winners will be determined by the percent reduction achieved compared to the baseline for the campus.

"It is very important to use every option possible to engage and to educate students so they are best prepared to cope with the challenges of global environmental change and its consequences," said Heike Hartmann, associate professor of geography, geology and the environment and chair of SRU's Energy Conservation Committee. "PASSHE Unplugged is a fun competition and it is our hope that students engaged in the competition will continue to save energy in the future. This will help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, a key strategy for combating climate change."

Featured speaker Alley will present "Energy, Climate and Our Future: Big Challenges and Bigger Opportunities, at 7:30 p.m., April 20, in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall Auditorium. Alley has written more than 240 scientific publications on earth and global climate change.

Student Government Association will lead a campus and community cleanup April 16. The SGA Bookstore will offer a "Down to Earth" sale April 18.

The Macoskey Center Earth Day Carnival in the Quad will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 19 in the Quad. Rain location is the Smith Student Center Ballroom. Participants will learn about sustainability through games and activities such as "Bowl Over the Fracking Tower."

New this year is an April 21 SRU film festival. "Green Fire," will be shown at 2 p.m., in 114 Patterson Hall; "In Search of Balance" at 6 p.m., in the Eisenberg Auditorium; and "Polyface" at 7:30 p.m., April 26, in the Smith Student Center Theater.

A "Free Community Electronic Waste Recycling Days" event will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22 - corresponding with the national Earth Day ¬- and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 23. Students, faculty, staff and community residents will be able to drop off electronic waste at the SRU Recycling Center, Stores II facility on Kiester Road.

Scanlon said acceptable items include computers, laptops, TVs, fax machines, copiers, cell phones and video game consoles. More details on the e-waste recycling program, along with a master calendar of events for all Earth Days events, will be posted at

An Earth Day Celebration for children will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 23, at SRU's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research. Different stations for games, arts and crafts and plant displays will be offered. Children will be able to make an eco-friendly dream catcher and handmade beads.

Deanne Brookens, SRU instructor of theatre, and director of the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, which includes Earth Week, said the program provides an opportunity to share the importance of sustainability with the next generation.

"In my Creative Drama Workshop this spring, we use our dramatic games, activities and stories to focus on ways that we can take care of the earth," Brookens said. "The children also have the opportunity to share their ideas about why protecting nature is important to them, and how they can help do just that. On Children's Day, they will then get to present a short performance inspired by the story 'The Magic Garden' that ties together some of the themes we've been exploring in our workshop."

Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, started Earth Day April 22, 1970. Many consider it the birth of the modern environmental movement.

SRU, which has set the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2037 through its Climate Action Plan, has been honored for its sustainability progress. Princeton Review has named SRU one the nation's 286 green colleges.

In 2015, SRU won the APPA Sustainability Award in Facilities Management for its efforts in reducing waste, lessening greenhouse gases and demonstrating leadership in green building design, recycling and educational programs for students and community residents. The award recognized SRU's 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, 40 percent improvement in campus energy efficiency and achievement of LEED certification for six residence halls and the Smith Student Center.

Other noted accomplishments include the creation of a campus sustainability features map and implementation of an Energy Action Pledge.

This semester, SRU launched a 12-credit certificate in sustainability that targets non-environmental majors and includes a service requirement. The program consolidates 30 existing courses into classes offered within the categories of environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic prosperity. The new program aims to give graduates an edge when interviewing for jobs since many corporations need a greening coordinator, even in industries such as theatre.

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