2014 Eco Rep Symposium


BU students at this year’s Eco Rep Symposium at Tufts.

It’s not every day that passionate environmental stewards from colleges and universities across the northeast region have the chance to share ideas and collaborate but when they do, the results are inspiring.

Six Boston University students joined over 180 students hailing from 30 other colleges and universities across the northeast region to participate in the annual Northeast Eco Rep Symposium that was hosted by Tufts University on Saturday, November 15. Tufts, the founder of the now nationalized ‘Eco Rep’ framework and symposium, hosted this event from a refreshing perspective rooted in student passion for preserving nature, reducing energy/waste on campus and promoting environmental justice.

An annual gathering of undergraduate student sustainability leaders, or Eco Reps, the symposium is an opportunity for involved students to celebrate their environmental progress, share ideas, and gather constructive feedback for future campus projects. The schedule featured a full day of enriching activities including a keynote speech, two sessions of case studies and skill-building workshops driven by an array of participating Eco Reps, roundtable discussions, and a solar bus tour. In addition to the symposium, an educational workshop on community-based social marketing was offered the next day, proposing tools and advice on facilitating sustainable behavior change in campus and local communities.

The Eco Rep Symposium kicked off with a keynote speech on “Becoming a Climate Superhero” by Suzanne Shaw, Director of Communications for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Shaw gave a hopeful presentation on effective communication and advocacy, emphasizing the importance of sharing relevant information and remaining positive in our climate change action efforts.

Throughout the day-long event, presentations covered strategies for campus-wide energy-saving competitions, tools for changing consumer behavior, methods for tracking campus trash and steps to build an Eco Rep Program from scratch. Roundtable discussions helped spark dialogue on topics like effective social media outreach, composting in dorms, sustainable transportation, and more.

Two BU students, Josef Benzaoui and Lindsey Chew, presented case studies during the second session of student presentations. Benzaoui, a freshman and former volunteer for the Environment Issue Area of BU’s First-Year Student Outreach Project and student in Kilachand Honors College, reflected on his high school environmental leadership experience in Seattle and the art of storytelling in creating lasting, memorable change. Chew, a junior and sustainability@BU Communications Intern, presented on the evolution of BU’s Sustainability Help Desk and its new pilot networking strategy that focuses on matching sustainability@BU resources to students’ current involvements on campus. Closing ceremonies followed suit, complete with a group photo and raffle giveaways.

Students returned to Tufts the next day for the community-based social marketing workshop hosted by renowned environmental psychologist Dr. Doug McKenzie-Mohr. The workshop highlighted the power and impact of small-scale change mechanisms. McKenzie-Mohr emphasized the importance of assessing the needs of the smallest population possible, tailoring advice to overcome individual sustainability barriers.

Overall, the Eco Rep Symposium was a highly memorable experience for all involved, an opportunity to make connections, trade innovative discoveries and catalyze change in higher education across the northeast.

Want to get an Eco Rep program started in your residence or department? Contact sustainability@bu.edu for advice on getting

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