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Sources: Ben Champion, 785-313-3085,;
and Sharon Brookshire, 785-532-2566,
Web site:
Note to editor: More information about sustainability efforts at K-State is available at
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Developing awareness of the diverse sustainability needs of Kansas is just one of the goals of an upcoming conference at Kansas State University that will showcase the university's efforts in sustainability on campus and across the state.

K-State's Leading Kansas in Sustainability Conference will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at the K-State Student Union. The conference, for students, faculty and staff, as well as education, commerce, government and nonprofit leaders, is open to the public but registration is required and is available online at:

The conference will include presentations by K-State faculty involved in sustainability projects and education on campus and around Kansas, including in Greensburg, Fort Riley and Manhattan.

"The conference will show how K-State and other universities can lead a society-wide transition to a conservative resource future by example and through outreach," said Ben Champion, director of sustainability at K-State. "This conference will represent a wide variety of activities related to sustainability at K-State, both in terms of academic research and teaching, and also in university operations and management. However, it also will probe what we could be doing better at K-State and what the role of a land-grant institution should be in a societal transition toward sustainability."

David Orr, a nationally recognized expert in college campus sustainability, will be the keynote speaker. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. His organization of studies on energy, water and materials use on several college campuses in 1987 helped launch the green campus movement. His involvement in sustainability also includes organizing the effort to design the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College, the first substantially green building on a U.S. college campus.

Orr will open the conference at 8 a.m. in the Union's Forum Hall.

Jon Wefald, K-State president, will discuss the university's efforts toward sustainability at the luncheon session, noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Union's Main Ballroom. Wefald's presentation is expected to touch on the university's commitments to sustainability thus far, including formation of recycling and stewardship committees, the creation of the director of sustainability position and the formulation of a task force to create a comprehensive university strategy for engagement with sustainability.

The conference will include a variety of sessions on sustainability research, public sustainability education, land and water use and energy. The conference's final session, from 3:30-5 p.m. in Forum Hall, will be a panel discussion with Adrian Polansky, Kansas secretary of agriculture, Fred Cholick, dean of K-State's College of Agriculture, and Dan Nagengast, executive director of the Kansas Rural Center, on a 50-year Farm Bill plan proposed by Wes Jackson of The Land Institute in Salina. The proposal is a national plan for sustainable agriculture, ranching and forestry throughout America and has been sent to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Among the sessions being presented by K-State faculty include sustainable consumption knowledge and practices of Kansans; designing sustainable dwellings and neighborhoods in Greensburg; sustainability research being conducted for the U.S. Army; K-State's rain garden project; brownfields and sustainability; and community involvement tools for advancing sustainability. Also available will be posters and displays on the Wind for Schools project in Kansas, the university's preliminary carbon footprint, how to sustain local communities with global technology, sustainability in university computer labs and technology classrooms, sustainable materials research at K-State and more.

In addition to K-State experts, also presenting at the conference will be speakers from the Army, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Friends of the Kaw and the Mid-America Regional Council in Kansas City, Mo.

A full schedule of conference events is available at: