issue 332.20.13

Sustainability in the News
From the Director: Take Advantage of Your AASHE Membership
Profiles in Sustainability: Lisa Sideris
Events and Opportunities
Twitter link
IUOS Facebook Page
Join our mailing list 

Sustainability in the News
Book examines impact of climate change on Midwest, possible responses

February 7, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new book edited by Indiana University faculty member Sara C. Pryor examines the ways in which climate change is having a significant impact on the Midwestern United States through more frequent heavy rain events, drought, extreme heat and other factors.  


"Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation," published by Indiana University Press, focuses on identifying and quantifying risks and vulnerabilities, providing guidance for researchers and policymakers seeking ways to mitigate and promote adaptation to climate change.


Read the full article >> 

IU ranked among greenest campuses

January 27, 2013 
IU's efforts to create a more sustainable campus are now recognized on an international level, as IU is ranked 45th in the world for campus sustainability, according to the Green Metric World University Ranking System.

The University of Indonesia launched this ranking system in 2010 to identify and rank universities that are taking charge and leading their campuses toward more eco-friendly policies and conditions.

"We have never done an international ranking," IU Office of Sustainability Director Bill Brown said. "It was a pleasant surprise to be in the top 50, since it was our first shot at it."

The Office of Sustainability was invited to participate in the survey, and Alexandra Aznar, a School of Public and Environmental Affairs masters of public affairs student and intern at the Office of Sustainability, worked to compile the different sets of data required for each category.

Students carpool to save money

February 4, 2013

Whether they are interested in cutting down on gas costs or carbon dioxide emissions, IU students have access to several resources for carpooling.


Zimride, a website that connects potential passengers with drivers, is one of these resource. The use of Zimride is free for IU students, faculty and staff.


"IUSA has been funding it for a few years," said Patrick Courtney, IU Student Association vice president of administration.


Courtney said carpooling is a good way to promote sustainability. IUSA members are administrators on the IU-centered portion of the website and are able to see statistics on ridesharing through Zimride.


"One of the cool features is that it can track the sustainability of the ride," Courtney said. "They have this algorithm that shows how much CO2 and greenhouse gasses we're reducing by ridesharing. It's a pretty cool feature."


 Read the full article >>

Take Advantage of Your AASHE Membership
By Bill Brown


If you have an IU email address you already have access to the university's membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. All you need to do to access "member-only" resources regarding campus sustainability is go to their website and sign up. AASHE was officially launched in January 2006, serving as the first professional higher education association for the campus sustainability community. Nearly 900 higher education institutions are members of AASHE.


My first encounter with AASHE was at their 2008 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, that sold out two weeks before the event, with over 1700 attendees. I have attended every conference since then and I should disclose that I now serve on their board of directors.


AASHE's web site will connect you to your peers through topical forums, journals, blogs and member directories. These are all searchable, so you could quickly find all information on bike sharing or electronic waste programs or curriculum development. One of the most popular publications is the annual Higher Education Sustainability Review, which organizes all campus sustainability news articles from the previous year.  As a member, you can sign up for discussion lists and e-newsletters.


Resources for education & research include campus case studies on curriculum development, course listings and syllabi, sustainability focused degree and study abroad programs. Sustainability research case studies and inventories, campus centers and institutes of sustainability and surveys of sustainability awareness, attitudes, and values can also be found on the web site, along with related forums and AASHE conference presentations.  Resources for sustainability in co-curricular education and student organizing can also be found including specific guides for campus gardens, peer-to-peer education programs, alumni sustainability networks, and student leadership organizations.


Campus operations resources are organized by sections include buildings, climate, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste and water. The buildings section includes a collection of the actual policies related to campus green buildings from campuses across the country. Links to 24 climate action plans are included in the climate section and you can also explore the Climate Action Wiki. If you want to see examples of campus fair trade practices and policies at 70 universities or see all of the sustainable dining practices of the universities served by Sodexo, this is the place.  Go here to find green cleaning and green purchasing policies, campus bicycle plans, campus building energy dashboards, campus energy plans, composting programs, surplus property programs, campus water conservation policies, sustainable grounds management programs, and just about any other type of operations policy or program you can imagine.


In planning, administration and engagement you will find assessment tools and reports, policies, engagement strategies, human resources policies and financing and investment strategies. One assessment tool invented by AASHE is the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System or STARS that is now used by over 400 institutions, including Indiana University.


Resources for student sustainability organizations are also abundant and organized in much the same way as the general resources, but with an added focus on starting and energizing student-focused sustainability organizations.


Take advantage of your AASHE membership status. You don't have to start from scratch. No matter what your idea, chances are very good someone at another institution has already tried it and succeeded and it is also very likely you will find their best practices on the AASHE web site. 



Profiles in IU Sustainability 

This feature profiles a student, faculty member, staff member, IU alum, or community member who has inspired us as a sustainability leader. We hope you enjoy these stories, and we encourage you to send along your own! View this and past profiles at 


Lisa Sideris is this month's featured sustainer: 


Sideris 101


Time at IU:  It's complicated! I came to IU as an undergraduate in 1984, studied bioanthropology and history and philosophy of science, then entered the PhD program in history and philosophy of science here at IU around 1989. I quit that program after a year. Eventually, after a rudderless interlude, I gravitated toward the religious studies department at IU (I was still interested in science and religion), and got my PhD in that program in 2000. I had a position at McGill University when a job came up in religious studies at IU in 2005. I applied for the job and have been living here (again) since 2005. 

Hobbies: Hiking, slow food, reading novels, and watching IU basketball. I enjoy writing in a nonacademic vein when I get the change, but I don't get much chance these days.


Favorite Spot in Bloomington: Bloomington is full of beautiful spots, but I especially love the farmer's market.

Favorite Green Tip:  Keep a bucket or pitcher next to the bath to fill up with "warm up" water-the water that usually goes down the drain while you're waiting for the shower to get hot. 

You'll probably end up with more water than you know what to do with.  


Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in Indiana and consider Bloomington my home. I'm married to a Canadian and we have a 7 year old boy. I'm not, so far as I know, related to David Sedaris (everyone asks), but I am half-Greek. My work focuses on religion and environmental issues, particularly ethical issues, at the intersection of scientific and religious/ethical worldviews. I'm interested in many of aspects of evolutionary theory and its implications, including ethically, aesthetically, and religiously. I've also been very drawn into the life and work of Rachel Carson who wrote Silent Spring (1962). 


What does sustainability mean to you?  

Until recently, I never really used the term sustainability, which always struck me as a human-centered concept too closely tied to business-as-usual paradigms, and too easily co-opted by anyone or anything claiming to be "green." I had always used the word "environment" or "nature," and mostly I still do, because for me, the natural world has value in and of itself, apart from its value and use for us. But whatever you call it, it's about fulfilling our duties both to the nonhuman world and natural processes, and to future generations. I think it's about intervening in natural processes with great caution and humility, because our knowledge is always, always limited; even when our knowledge is pretty solid and our intentions good, there are all kinds of unforeseen consequences of our actions. Professing ignorance, in this context, can be a virtue. That said, I have a lot of respect for people who are "hands-on"-scientists, urban planners, engineers, permaculturalists, grass-roots activists, etc.-and who continually devise solutions to pressing environmental challenges.  I'm not always the most practically-minded person, and I have a tendency to despair over the Big Problems of the world, so I admire people who just shut up and get to work on what's right in front of them. 


What role do you play in supporting sustainability initiatives at IU?   

I teach a range of courses pertaining to the environment, including courses on religious ethics and the environment; religion and animals; peaking resources and climate disruption; I occasionally teach in the Human Biology program, in sustainability- or ethics-related courses. I have sponsored a number of students pursuing individualized majors in environment/sustainability. Recently, I've begun to incorporate sustainability-related service learning activities into some of my courses (as the best antidote to environment-induced despair). I also co-chair the Academic Initiatives Working Group of the Office of Sustainability. In particular, in the past year, I've been involved in two major efforts (initiated by other brave and intrepid souls), namely: to establish a new degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies at IU, and to create greater community and synergy among faculty with interests in sustainability.  


What do you see as the biggest challenge for sustainability at IU?  

Aside from the obvious need at this institution for a new interdisciplinary degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (did I mention that?), I think the immediate challenge for all of us is the same, whether at the institutional or individual level: to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and try not to wreck our climate. Right now our society is at a turning point where we can continue to extract every bit of energy from our planet--thus ensuring runaway climate change--or we can begin to get serious about alternatives. Even if you think that every last bit of oil, natural gas, etc. can be safely and efficiently extracted (and I don't think it can), proceeding that way going to land us in catastrophic climate change from which our planet won't recover in the foreseeable future. Saying no to these remaining energy sources and extraction methods means re-thinking our whole notion of prosperity, what it means to live well. IU is making some progress in this area, but Indiana is a coal-fired state. Administrators, politicians, society as a whole will have to learn to think about a longer term than we're accustomed to thinking about. Basically, it's time to grow up.


How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?  

In terms of my lifestyle, I am pretty dedicated to the following: cutting down on driving (by walking, biking, or ride-sharing); supporting local growers (my family supports a couple of CSAs and we are regulars at the farmers market); gardening, composting, saving water. Last winter we installed a wood burning stove that not only heats the whole house but is more fun to watch than television (unless, of course, it's IU basketball on TV). I also try to get outside on some kind of regular basis, just to remind myself of what it is that we're trying to sustain and why. 



Events and Opportunities  
Full event listings can be viewed on our calendar, while the latest news and opportunities are viewable on our blog

Sustainability Course Development Fellowships Available  
Application Deadline: March 8, 2013 

Description: Applications are being accepted for the Sustainability Course Development Fellowship, and opportunity offered by the Office of Sustainability and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. This Fellowship supports faculty who develop new courses which apply principles of sustainability. Development of both undergraduate and graduate levels of instruction are supported, as well as service-learning courses. Deadline is March 1.
Questions: For more information, visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs website at:


Applications for CLD Board of Directors  

Application Deadline: Friday, February 22, 2013
Time Commitment: Each position will require at least 8 hours per week. The positions run from August 2013 - May 2013.
Position Description: Civic Leadership Development (CLD) is one of IU's most impactful volunteer service and civic engagement programs. These leadership positions require passionate, team-oriented, proactive, detail-oriented, and creative students who are motivated to serve the Bloomington community. Positions are available in all areas, including developing volunteer projects, planning a speaker series, other educational events, member relations, and marketing.
Questions: For more information about this opportunity or to request an application, contact


2013 Trashion Refashion Show 

Submission Deadline: March 1, 2013 (register and photos)
Description: The Trashion Refashion Show is a community event that displays local fashion designs from designers (of all ages and skill-levels) around the Bloomington campus and community. You can submit a design or up to three designs in either the trashion or refashion category. Trashion is the result of creatively turning discarded items into fashion. Refashion is the result of modifying existing clothing into something more fashionable. The show will be held on April 21st at 7:00pm at the BCT.
Questions: Click here for more information. 

About Us
The mission of the Indiana University Office of Sustainability is to advance sustainable human-environment interactions within the Bloomington campus and community by facilitating collaborative academic and operational initiatives. 
Contact Us
IU Office of Sustainability
704 E. 10th St. 
Bloomington, Indiana 47408
Join Our Mailing List