Bryant's Taylor Vahey speaks at podium.
Taylor Vahey, right, and Alexandra Fluegel, left, launched the Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium last year. Vahey, who's excited for the event's return on April 22, notes that there is a lot of misinformation on climate in the world, so just learning about climate change is a way for an individual to help.
Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium returns bigger and better in second year
Apr 18, 2024, by Emma Bartlett
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Taylor Vahey ’23 has a passion for combating climate change and driving sustainability efforts. The sustainability coordinator, who participated in environmental activism as an undergraduate at Bryant, is currently putting the finishing touches on Bryant’s second annual Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium, which will be held across campus on April 22.

“It’s important for people to attend because knowledge is power. There is a lot of misinformation on climate in the world, so just learning about climate change is a way for an individual to help,” says Vahey, who hopes the event sparks ongoing conversations.

Vahey launched the Earth Day Symposium last year with fellow student researcher Alexandra Fluegel ’23. For the inaugural event, the duo organized various presentations, discussions, and workshops around climate education and sustainability to inspiring local change that could make a global difference. This year, Vahey says the event will have more activities and attendees.

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“There is something for everyone at the symposium,” Vahey says, noting that the curated schedule involves business, science, and the arts.

The day will kick off with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the university’s new composting system from EcoTone Renewables. The anaerobic digester machine, which is made from a former shipping container, processes food waste eight times faster than natural composting methods and creates liquid fertilizer in two to three weeks.

Attendees listen to speaker at Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium.
This year's Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium will feature an array of discussions, presentations, workshops, and more.

Vahey notes that the morning portion will also feature talks from Jason Dodier ’09 and Loren Spears. Dodier — co-founder of GRAIN Ecosystem, a platform offering digitized eligibility assessments, carbon profiling, and economic analysis — will speak about his company and its work. Meanwhile, Spears, a member of the Narragansett Tribal Nation and executive director of the Tomaquag Museum, will share traditional ecological knowledge and discuss the historical and contemporary uses of indigenous plants and animals.

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In the afternoon, attendees will choose from multiple breakout sessions with topics spanning from how Fidelity Investments approaches sustainability to the intersection of climate change and finance. Vahey notes that Fidelity will host a 45-minute design thinking workshop where attendees will collaborate on how to further sustainability efforts at Bryant.

Rounding out the day are an assortment of drop-in events. Several of these options include talking to the Undergraduate Advising Office to learn about upcoming courses that touch on sustainability, visiting the Data Visualization Lab to tour the Great Barrier Reef and national parks, and speaking with Paul Roselli's “Energy Management Strategies” students about their posters on solar energy. Krupp Library will also be hosting a clothing swap where individuals can bring in clothes they no longer wear and pick out something new; leftover clothing will be donated.

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“I’m really excited about the interest from our community,” says Vahey, who’s counting down the days until the event. “Young people today are aware that the world we’re inheriting is much warmer, and we need significant innovation to get to a carbon-neutral system.”

Bryant’s Climate and Sustainability Earth Day Symposium is open to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public. Click here to view the full schedule of events and reserve your spot.

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