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Chico State

14th Annual This Way to Sustainability Conference at CSU, Chico Focuses on Regenerating Ecological Systems

A sign points attendees to Chico State's This Way to Sustainability conference.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

This Way to Sustainability Conference XII focuses on factors that allow communities and individuals to prepare for a dynamic future, one with uncertain, but generally increasing, socio-ecological stresses on Thursday, March 23, 2017 in Chico, Calif. During the two day event, 4 keynote events, over 80 panel presentations and workshops, and films, with over 115 sustainability professionals from throughout California and beyond are available. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

More than 125 speakers will tackle timely topics like regenerative agriculture, water resource usage, and the impacts of last year’s Camp Fire at the 14th annual This Way to Sustainability conference March 28–29 at California State University, Chico.

The conference’s goal is to educate students, staff and faculty, as well as community members by providing opportunities to network, discuss and increase awareness around current and pertinent environmental social issues. As the nation’s largest student-run conferences, last year’s event attracted approximately 1,200 attendees.

Cheri Chastain, CSU, Chico’s Sustainability Programs Manager, said the importance of addressing and taking action against climate change across all belief systems, socioeconomic statuses and locations around the globe necessitates conferences like This Way to Sustainability.

“We are seeing private industry publicly commit to aggressive climate change goals, investors are taking a closer look at the industries and practices they are investing in, and higher education institutions are innovating and training the next generation of problem solvers,” she said. “This conference will highlight some of the innovative work being done in sustainability in a variety of fields of study.”

This theme for year’s conference is “Regenerating Ecological Systems: Impacts and Solutions to Climate Crisis,” and the event will open with a special screening of “Paris to Pittsburgh” on Wednesday, March 27 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Selvester’s Café-by-the-Creek. This National Geographic documentary explores climate change in light of the Trump administration’s explosive decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We have recently experienced, more intimately than most, the effects climate change has on a community,” Chastain said. “This film will give hope and inspiration on how we can change the way we do things, large and small, to begin to address climate change.”

Most sessions over the two days that follow will be held in the Bell Memorial Union featuring speakers from CSU, Chico and Butte County, as well as other CSU and University of California institutions. The conference’s program includes topics such as energy and environment, food and agriculture, climate, water and community partnerships and action.

This year’s keynote speakers include:

  • Thomas Goreau, president and founder of the Global Coral Reef Alliance
  • Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch
  • Larry Kopald, president and co-founder of The Carbon Underground
  • Alice Julier, director of the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transportation (CRAFT) and associate professor and director of food studies at Chatham University

Wrapping up the conference will be keynote speakers Nirvan Mullick, filmmaker and founder of Climate Uprising and, and University alum, educator, and farmer Audrey Denney (Agriculture, ’07; MA, Agriculture, ’14). Denney, also a congressional candidate for California’s 1st District, said CSU, Chico is a fitting host of the sustainability conference.

“Our region can and should be the leader in mitigating climate change—from our farmers and ranchers sequestering carbon through cover crops, reduced tillage and managed grazing to our alternative energy production capability,” Denney said. “I’m excited to share how our region can transform from the face of the climate crisis to the leaders in climate change mitigation.”

The price for a one-day conference pass is $35, and a two-day pass is $50. The event is also free for all students of any age from any campus with a student ID card.

Those who require an accommodation in order to attend any of the conference’s sessions or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.