Mia Krolczyk spent her summer studying renewable energy, technology, and resource economics in Iceland through the School for International Training. She traveled around the island with 19 other students as the program faculty led intensive courses including Icelandic language, energy seminar, and energy project. The students stayed in hostels, at farms, at universities, and with homestay families. Mia stayed at Brunalaug, a farm in Northern Iceland with another student. They were hosted by an older couple who gave them an amazing and authentic Icelandic experience. Mia eagerly listened to all of the wisdom and information that her homestay mother offered about life, Icelandic culture, and geothermal farming. For example, she showed Mia around the countryside of Iceland and her geothermal greenhouses where she grew peppers for the local grocery stores. As the program traveled from Reykjavik to the West Fjords to Akureyri to the East Fjords to the highlands and back to the southern shore of Iceland, the students visited hydropower, geothermal power, and wind power plants. The students and faculty also worked with local experts to learn about Iceland’s sustainability efforts and partnered with a company to plant over 220 trees in Northern Iceland, making the study abroad program carbon neutral. Mia appreciated Iceland’s beautiful landscape and culture, as well as the country’s efforts to preserve the land and history She also enjoyed her time in nature, hiking and running, and her time visiting historical sites, such as turf roof houses, fishing villages, and museums. Mia left Iceland with a strong understanding of Icelandic culture, renewable energy, technology, and resource economics.
CEE Title: Sustainability Panel and Paint
The 2019 VIH Cohort at Robert Morris University hosted a “Panel and Paint” event in November as their CEE. The Cohort invited three professionals, Kathy Hrabovsky, Dr. Dwayne Bauknight, and Grant Ervin to speak about their careers in sustainability and answer questions on the topic of sustainability. Kathy Hrabovsky has a Master of Science in Sustainable Design, is a Sustainability Manager at 3R, holds green building and sustainable land care related credentials; she also was a Vira I Heinz scholar. Dr. Dwayne Bauknight is a professor of science at Robert Morris University and the Community College of Allegheny County and owns and operates the Shared Acres Community Supported Agriculture Program with the goal to be an ecological engineering factory. Grant Ervin serves as the Chief Resilience Officer and Assistant Director for the Department of City Planning for the City of Pittsburgh and oversees the integration of sustainability and resilience into Pittsburgh’s services, programs and policy. The panelists answered questions including “How can one be sustainable on an individual level and how much does it really matter?,” “What can students/community members do to get involved in sustainability efforts in the community?,” and “What should consumers be mindful of when completing daily tasks such as traveling, shopping, eating, etc?.”
Following the discussion about sustainability, attendees were invited to stay for snacks and a craft. Reusable shopping bags and paints were passed to participants who were invited to design and paint a bag to be used instead of plastic bags. Although switching from plastic to reusable shopping bags is a small act, the activity was designed to inspire sustainable mindsets; having a sustainable mindset will hopefully carry over to other aspects of everyday life such as using a reusable bottle or mug for water or coffee. Participants were encouraged to “Think globally and act locally” when thinking about and practicing sustainability. Sustainable world is attainable if individuals participate in sustainable and eco friendly habits at the individual level; small changes add up to large results. Students and staff at Robert Morris University are capable of creating sustainable habits and leading by example; by setting an example for other people on campus and in the area, the community will be more sustainable and eco friendly.