The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future co-sponsored the BU Conference on Sustainability Research on Monday, May 9. Approximately 100 people attended the one-day conference that featured presentations by Boston University faculty with a diverse range of expertise on their research related to sustainability issues (a full list of presenters can be viewed below). Each of the four sessions — which focused on measuring sustainability, modeling sustainability, human dimensions of sustainability, and future sustainability — took an interdisciplinary approach, and the discussion throughout the day explored sustainability challenges and solutions through ecological, economic, societal, and technological lenses, among others. The conference was webcast and can be viewed here.
Following opening remarks by Pardee Center Director Anthony Janetos and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ann Cudd, Prof. Lucy Hutyra (Earth and Environment) moderated the first session on measuring sustainability. Panelists included Prof. Nathan Phillips (Earth and Environment, Systems Engineering), Prof. Pam Templer (Biology), Prof. Michael Gevelber (Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering), and Prof. Thomas Little (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Systems Engineering). Topics included measuring local and regional energy use, carbon storage, commercial buildings energy use, and smart lighting technology.
The second session, moderated by BU Sustainability Director Dennis Carlberg, focused on modeling sustainability. Prof. Peter Fox-Penner (Questrom) gave an overview of his newly created Institute for Sustainable Energy and Prof. Kevin Gallagher (Global Development Policy) spoke about his research on climate change, trade, and finance conducted at the Global Economic Governance Initiative (GEGI), of which he is the Co-Director. Conor Gately (Earth and Environment) and Prof. Jonathan Levy (Environmental Health) discussed methods to improve greenhouse gas emissions inventories and the public health benefits of clean energy.
The third session on the human dimensions of sustainability was moderated by Initiative on Cities Executive Director Katharine Lusk and featured Prof. Cutler Cleveland (Earth and Environment), Prof. Henrik Selin (International Relations) and Prof. Anne Short (Earth and Environment). Topics included energy end use and energy transitions, efforts to reduce hazardous substances, and social and ecological aspects of sustainable development.
The final session of the conference focused on the future of sustainability. Pardee Center Director Anthony Janetos set the stage by explaining the importance of prediction, adaptation, and risk management and tolerance. Prof. Les Kaufman (Biology), Prof. James McCann (History), and Prof. Madhu Dutta-Koehler (City Planning and Urban Affairs) followed with a wide-ranging discussion that explored the future of sustainability for marine ecosystems, urban areas, and the interface between human and natural systems.
The BU Conference on Sustainability Research was co-sponsored by the Pardee Center, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Earth and Environment, the Pardee School of Global Studies, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy.
An edited version of the full conference video will be available soon in the Pardee Center’s Multimedia Library.