action research in dialogue with the greater community

By Anjana Amirapu

As the ART on ART team, we juggle measuring the qualitative and quantitative impacts ESLP ART has had on UCLA sustainability. Though our main task is measuring ART's on-campus impact, we sometimes forget that ESLP ART has also impacted many colleges and universities across the nation. This week, we discussed presenting our data and analysis of ESLP ART at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, or CHESC. 

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In the past few years, our stakeholder and director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Cully Nordby, has given talks about ESLP ART and its evolution among other topics to the CHESC. She said the program is one of the best and most comprehensive of its kind and while it took many years to grow from a lecture series to a program with both member and stakeholder applications, many schools aspire to have similar programs.

According to its website, the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference "highlights cutting-edge research" and provides case studies related to "curriculum development, operational programs, and community partnerships" from community colleges to the UCs. 

As I scrolled through past award winners and presenters, I was impressed by many projects students and administrators completed to make their campus more energy-efficient, more water-efficient, or better at redirecting waste streams. Examples like UC Berkeley's Maximino Martinez Commons, which won Overall Sustainable Design in 2013 and can meet sixty-five percent of its hot water needs from solar-powered generators, should serve as inspiration and models for us.

While our sister universities are making strides in sustainability and efficiency, I noticed that there were few programs that involved united faculty, students, and administration or were as comprehensive as ESLP ART. Examining the CHESC and ESLP ART's influence on it reminds me of how much we have accomplished and how much more we can still accomplish.