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Sustainability lecture to inspire eco-friendly campus

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD Throughout the course of most college careers students learn the tools of their future trades, how to fall in love (or not) and how to successfully bounce a coin into a cup of beer.

But what about the lessons needed to achieve sustainability in a world teetering on the verge of a radical climate change?

Officials at Westfield State College (WSC) have invited environmentalist and co-founder of Second Nature -- a non-profit organization which works with institutions of higher education to promote sustainable practices on and off campus -- Dr. Anthony Cortese to present "Leveraging Change: Higher Education in a Sustainable Future."

According to WSC officials, this public presentation -- which will take place Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Scanlon Banquet Hall -- "addresses changes that college and university campuses can make to reduce the size of their carbon footprint. It looks at every aspect within the higher education system, from purchasing to building design and curriculum."

"Sure, we have heard about global warming and sustainability but he speaks really passionately about it," Melinda Sullivan, director of Environmental Health and Safety at WSC, said of Cortese.

Sullivan said she heard one of his lectures at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth last year. She explained that his enthusiasm and passion about the need to implement and teach sustainable practices in higher education was very inspiring.

"It was a very stimulating session," Sullivan said, adding that suggestions Cortese made to college officials were to host green conferences, use biodegradable utensils and dishes and use electronic correspondence rather than paper.

"Dr. Cortese is an expert in higher education's unique role in sustainability," Marijoan Bull, assistant professor of Geography and Regional Planning and organizer of the lecture, said. "It's about training the next generation that will really have to focus on sustainability."

Bull said she has made the lecture a requirement for her students this semester, adding that she teaches her students about the dramatic impact of their carbon footprints on individual, local, state, federal and global levels.

William Bickley Jr., newly appointed Sustainability Coordinator at WSC, said this lecture also serves as a preview for the campus's next Sustainability Day, April 1.

He explained that he is currently looking at ways the college can increase sustainable practices such as tray-less dining, replacing paper towels with hand dryers in bathrooms, implementing a campus-wide policy of double-sided printing and promoting electronic assignment submission.

Former WSC Interim President Barry Maloney also signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment -- initiated by Cortese as co-director of the project -- which requires the college to decrease its carbon footprint by increasing campus-wide sustainable practices.

Cortese's lecture is free and open to the public.

Throughout his career he has obtained such posts as the director of the air quality program for the Department of Environmental Services and the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Cortese received his doctorate of science in environmental health from Harvard University.

For more information about Cortese or Second Nature go to