The April Climate Days look to spice up—not heat up—campus next week.
Organized by the President's Climate Commitment Advisory Committee, the events include a Climate Fair, the results of the Climate Matters Contest, and a Common Hour lecture with environmental advocate Majora Carter.
In a campus-wide e-mail sent on Wednesday, President Barry Mills encouraged the "active participation of students, faculty, and staff" in the coming events.
The environmental committee behind the events was formed in 2007 when Mills signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, an agreement among leaders in higher education to combat global warming.
"The primary goal of the committee" is to "set a date for reaching carbon neutrality," said Committee Chair and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley. That date must be decided on by September 15 this year.
The main goal of April Climate Days is to engage the Bowdoin community in climate concerns. According to Environmental Studies Director and Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology Philip Camill, the committee didn't want to be "sequestered away from the rest of the campus."
"We wanted to generate a meaningful discussion within the community," added committee member Conor Walsh '11.
"I think the most important thing is to involve the whole campus...and show that this is a campus dialogue," said committee member Diana Zhang '11.
The first event in the series is the Bowdoin Climate Fair on Thursday in Smith Union's Morrell Lounge. The fair will feature the projects and efforts from environmentally-oriented Bowdoin courses as well as those of local businesses such as Gelato Fiasco.
The committee intends the fair to "show people what their peers are doing, what is possible here at Bowdoin," Zhang said.
Committee member and Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Madeleine Msall is bringing environmental projects developed by students in an upper level physics lab course to the fair. A current student of hers, Carl Morrisey '09, will present his plans for a wind turbine.
Other fair participants include students in psychology, architecture, and environmental studies courses—a range that reflects the many ways to approach global warming.
On Thursday night, Thorne will provide a "locavore" dinner that focuses on local foods. The term "locavore" has emerged in recent years to describe a person who consumes regionally produced food.
Student hosts at each table will talk informally to diners about climate issues, "getting their ideas, their feedback," said Walsh. There will be more than 80 hosts who hold various leadership positions on campus, such as team captains and club heads.
Attendees of the locavore dinner will have the opportunity to vote on the proposals submitted by the five finalists of the Climate Matters Contest.
Longley, who was highly involved in the nominations for the contest, said that it was designed to "raise awareness, engage the community, [and] be provocative." The committee received approximately 45 submissions to the contest.
Each of the top five were picked on basis of their "creativity, plausibility, originality, and how much it could actually contribute it terms of carbon reduction," said Walsh.
The top five proposals tackle the College's carbon emissions from a spectrum of angles. While one proposal suggests installing a "windmill field" on the Naval Air Station land, another recommends consolidating fall and Thanksgiving breaks, so that less energy is used in travel and re-opening the school twice. A third suggests raising the vehicle registration fee (Bowdoin's is one of the lowest in the NESCAC) and implementing a new parking policy under which cars could only be parked on the main campus for five or ten minutes.
"I think all of them are great ideas," said Environmental Studies Program Manager Eileen Johnson, a member of the committee. "They represent a range of approaches" as well as "a range of community members." Indeed, the top five submissions represent Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff.
"A lot of people are thinking about this issue and that's very exciting," said Johnson.
The headline event on Friday is Common Hour with Majora Carter, a leader in sustainability, environmental justice, and green-collar job potential.
"We're past the point where we need Al Gore telling us 'the climate's getting warmer'," said Camill. The committee wanted to bring "someone who really captured the future of where this discussion's going," he said.
At the reception following Carter's lecture, President Mills will present an updated climate mission statement, or what Camill called, "a community-wide affirmation of what we stand for" as well as an announcement of the contest winner.
"It's the first time we've had something quite like this," said Johnson, referring to April Climate Days.
The committee does not want it to be the last. According to Camill, it hopes to "keep this conversation going and not just let it fall off a cliff."
Committee member Madeleine Msall, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, said that the committee "wants more people to become involved in that conversation."
"I think we're going to continue to have events that celebrate our commitment to climate...as the vision of what's possible becomes larger," Msall said.