A wide slate of environmentally focused and eco-minded discussions and presentations is planned for this week’s 13th annual This Way to Sustainability Conference at California State University, Chico. The broad and relevant topic of sustainability will be discussed at multiple locations on the University campus on Thursday, March 15, and Friday, March 16.

“This two-day conference is a public outreach event that encourages consideration of emerging global socioeconomic and environmental challenges and the exploration of innovative ideas that can help to guide us through the uncertainties of the future,” said James Pushnik, director of the Institute for Sustainable Development, which hosts the conference with support from the Associated Students.

Approximately 130 sustainability professionals will speak during the student-run event, which is one of the largest conferences of its kind in the nation. Attendance is expected to reach 1,400 participants this year, the highest attendance ever, and include business and nonprofit leaders, faculty members and students from throughout the CSU, UC and community colleges systems, as well as more than 60 K-12 students.

The theme for this week’s conference is “When Will Climate Neutrality Become our Climate Reality,” with presentations focusing on topics such as partnerships in sustainability, zero waste, climate change, water usage and regenerative agriculture.

More than 60 presentations are scheduled throughout the two-day conference, including five keynote speakers:

  • Cheri Chastain (MA, Environmental Geography, ’07), Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., with “Brewing a Successful Sustainability Program”
  • Professor and MacArthur Fellow David Montgomery, with “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life”
  • Author and independent journalist Dahr Jamail, with “Update on the State of the Planet: How Shall We Live”
  • Matthew St. Clair, the first Director of Sustainability for the University of California’s Office of the President, with “Carbon Neutrality and Why Universities Should Be Trying to Attain It”
  • Professor Kimberly Prather, Distinguished Chair of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, with “How are Humans Contributing to Climate Change and What We Can Do to Make a Difference?”

New this year is the Resilient Cities Initiative, with a series of presentations highlighting the public-private partnership between CSU, Chico and the City of Chico through the current South Campus Neighborhood Project.

“This program is an interdisciplinary applied learning and research effort that takes classroom theory into practice partnering faculty expertise and student innovation with city officials on projects that enhance public health and safety, quality of life and the environmental sustainability of our community,” Pushnik said.

Registration fees are $35 for a single day or $50 for both days, and day-of registration will be possible in the University’s Bell Memorial Union.

Students at CSU, Chico, Butte College and K-12 schools are encouraged to attend the conference, and they may do so for free with a current student ID.

Visit www.csuchico.edu/sustainablefuture/conference/registration.shtml for more information, a full conference schedule, and to register to attend.

People who require an accommodation in order to participate in the conference or who have questions about accessibility should contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.

CSU, Chico has long been a sustainability trailblazer and as a founding signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. The University regularly receives high marks in sustainability rankings, including the Sierra Club’s latest “Cool Schools” list.