Carnegie Mellon University

Focus the Nation

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Students Set Green Practice Example

green grass

Through a nationwide campus initiative called Focus the Nation, Carnegie Mellon students are seeking to raise awareness on climate change and recycling.

Vanessa Schweizer (E '09), vice president of Sustainable Earth — the student group coordinating the Carnegie Mellon events, explains that the university plays a special role in helping students adopt positive habits and environmental awareness is one of them.

"Through Focus the Nation, we want to help students understand that environmental responsibility is not something that one does simply to make themselves feel or look good. It's something that one does because we are living in lean economic times and need to cut costs," said Schweizer. "It's also something one does to keep her business competitive. There just happens to be a 'double dividend' to increased energy efficiency, since profligate energy use is also what is warming the planet."

A major national, educational and civic engagement initiative on global warming, Focus the Nation 2009 is expected to take place at more than 1,000 colleges, universities and high schools. This year's theme is "Global Warming Solutions for the First 100 Days" of the country's new administration.

Peter Tertzakian, author of "A Thousand Barrels a Second: The Coming Oil Break Point and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependent World" offered the keynote address at 7 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 4 in McConomy Auditorium. First-year students in the College of Engineering (CIT) read the book as part of a summer common experience and are meeting with the author earlier in the day.

At 7 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 5, a webcast and discussion focused on the Presidential Climate Action Project's recommendations for President Barack Obama's administration.

Friday includes a variety of parallel sessions as part of a National Teach-In. Speakers include Carnegie Mellon Professors Lee Branstetter and M. Granger Morgan, who will continue the discussion they started on climate policy during the Heinz Talks. Carnegie Mellon Professor Volker Hartkopf will also discuss the role architecture can play in a sustainable environment.

Related Links: Heinz Talks