SSC recently had a Skype conference with the sustainability committee from the Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD), located in Chile. This conference gave both sides insights into the operations of both committees, some ideas about current and future plans, and opportunities for partnership. The sustainability committee at UDD is a one-year old organization comprised of ten students. Being such a fresh organization, they have several ideas for future projects as well as enthusiasm to improve current initiatives.
UDD highlighted two successful projects. The first was a recycling project, carried out far and wide throughout the college. This project is completely managed by the committee and they plan to have the student federation take it over in the near future. The second project was hosting a sustainability week, where the committee had several academic and cultural events to get more students involved in sustainability. A part of this week included lecture sessions about sustainable practices from guest speakers. The committee plans to run sustainability week annually, similar to Students for Environmental Concerns Earth Week here at UIUC.
The next project that the committee wants to undertake surrounds energy efficiency. They want to make their campus more sustainable in terms of energy management, starting from one building and then moving to the remaining four on their campus. They hope to setup solar panels that inspire change and reduce carbon emissions. According to the UDD committee, Chile is blessed with an abundance of sunlight, which makes solar energy the cheapest source of power.
There is an opportunity to form an informal partnership between UDD and SSC. SSC can provide guidance on grant writing so the UDD committee can increase their ability to receive grant funding. SSC can also provide advice about project strategies that have worked, or failed, at UIUC. For example, it is important to think about the scalability and longevity of a project. Who will manage the project long-term? What happens to the project when students graduate? On the flip side, UDD can provide valuable suggestions about grassroot efforts and student-led projects. For instance, it is crucial to have a small core group of students who are excited and committed to both designing and implementing student-led projects.
This conference opened doors for several international collaboration opportunities for both universities. In the future, if SSC decides to host a conference, we would love to have UDD representatives either visit UIUC or videoconference to share their journey. UDD plans to have an annual sustainability meeting with other Chilean universities, and SSC could attend these meetings as a guest to tell our story. Beyond conferences, there is potential to collaborate on projects together, such as a collaborative Earth Week event. SSC thanks UDD for a wonderful Skype conference and we look forward to future joint endeavors.
Written by Dhwani Jain