As the school year winds down, the Office of Sustainability will say goodbye to our graduating senior interns. We are thankful for having the chance to work with this group of talented individuals and are excited about what the future holds for each of them. Working towards sustainability has been an important part of their lives here at Notre Dame and with their many talents they are sure to continue making a difference. Each of the interns shared a little bit about how sustainability has enhanced their Notre Dame experience:
Sustainability and environmental issues have basically defined my time here at Notre Dame. I have been very active by being co-president of SEA for two years, being an active member of GreeND for two, and working at the Office for one. I love doing service events, working on sustainability projects, and educating others about the environment and sustainability. It has been very rewarding and I have made some great friends through my experiences. As an Environmental Science major, I have taken some very interesting classes related to sustainability, including “Energy, Economics, and the Environment” and “Current Topics in Environmental Science.” Working at the Office of Sustainability has given me some great practical experience for what it will be like to go into the working world in my field of study and tackle issues that all governments, businesses, and schools face.
My time in the Office of Sustainability has been exceedingly enjoyable and edifying. The many initiatives I was able to take part in has made me increasingly aware of the importance of energy consciousness and responsible stewardship. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside such dynamic and engaged individuals and help lay the groundwork for a greener Notre Dame. It will certainly be difficult to leave this beautiful campus, but I am confident that it could not be in better hands.
At the heart of any concern with the environment, the economy or society is a fundamental concern with sustainability. The four are necessarily intertwined. We live in a world of decreasing resources, increasing population, a polluted environment and economic turmoil. It is essential that a larger paradigm shift is made towards sustainable ways of spending, using resources and living. It is absolutely in everyone’s interest to do so. My job at the Office of Sustainability, as well as my internship with the Association for Craft Producers (Nepal’s foremost fair trade organization) has cemented this notion for me, and helped me commit not only to trying to spread this message of sustainability, but to be an agent of change myself.
I often get asked how I ended up in the Masters of Architecture program at Notre Dame considering I majored in biology as an undergraduate. Most people incorrectly assume the two disciplines aren’t related and that my path from biology to architecture was forged haphazardly. In fact, the interaction between our built and natural environments is fundamental to both how we design buildings and the sustainability of our planets’ natural resources. My involvement with the Office of Sustainability has inspired me to continue exploring these connections. Recently, I engaged in research comparing the embodied energy of traditional building methods to that of modern construction techniques. We can learn a great deal about sustainability from traditional architecture, which has never relied on modern technology like solar panels, and yet produced comfortable, durable and beautiful buildings.
When I arrived at Notre Dame, “environmentalist” might have been one of the last words used to describe me, but now, four years later, my involvement in campus sustainability is one of my most distinctive characteristics. I somewhat unwillingly agreed to be my dorm’s environmental commissioner during my sophomore year, and the rest, as they say, is history. Planning environmental events for my dorm and the campus as a whole motivated me to learn more about environmental concerns in the classroom. Although I kept my major of Political Science, I geared my coursework toward a holistic understanding of environmental issues by taking environment-related courses in not only Political Science, but also Philosophy, History, and Business. I have been fortunate enough to not only learn about environmental issues in the classroom, but also to use that knowledge to achieve tangible environmental improvements by working with the Office of Sustainability for the past year. Environmental concerns were perhaps the farthest from my mind when I enrolled at Notre Dame, but as I graduate four years later, I find that they are central to my world view and future plans.