CU celebrates sustainability

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Jacob Jardel
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@JJardel_Writing

With the start of the new school year, Cameron University kicked off its triennial Academic Festival titled “Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities.”

The ninth year-round festival will focus on the various ways Cameron and the surrounding community can maintain the resources and amenities it has now.

University President Dr. John McArthur mentioned drought, conservation and community growth when addressing the selection of this topic.

“We wanted to get something that was a little bit closer to home,” McArthur said. “It tied together a lot of those concepts. That made sustainability very appealing.”

Psychology Department Chair Dr. Mary Dzindolet, who served as chair of the selection committee, also felt that the topic was an attractive choice because of how relatable it is to those of all disciplines.

“I love how the topic just is so broad that it has many different facets,” Dzindolet said. “… Which gives us lots of opportunities to talk in our classes about this. This is a topic that’s as easy to put in a social psychology class as it is to put in an agricultural class as it is into an arts class as it is to a literature class.”

McArthur also expressed his interest in the various angles of learning available, especially with the speakers set to give talks at Cameron throughout the year.

 

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Chef and agricultural activist Rick Bayless, professor and water conservation advocate Dr. Robert Glennon and city planner and urban developer Jeff Speck are set to speak throughout the semester. Actor and environmental advocate Ed Begley Jr., will give the Commencement Address, closing out the year of speakers.

With the number of different topics addressed in these talks, McArthur looks forward to the varied approaches these speakers will take on the same subject of sustainability.

“[They bring] four very different perspectives,” he said, “which is my favorite part of the festival—the variety of viewpoints.”

Dzindolet feels these vast arrays of viewpoints will increase the potential for people outside the Cameron community to come and take in the experience, which she expressed is one of the best aspects of the Academic Festival.

“I’ve been here for many festivals,” she said, “and each time we’ve done it, people come from all over. It’s just such a great way for the Cameron community, the community at large and the academic community, which includes Texas and other states to all come together.”

Dzindolet felt that this sort of interstate outreach is one of the goals of the Academic Festival.

“The energy that comes when people from all different walks of life with a diversity of interests all come together to focus on a topic – I always find that so exciting and thrilling,” Dzindolet said. “It’s energizing. It makes you so excited to be on a college campus.”

However, both she and McArthur stated that one goal of this festival in particular is to call the community to action to sustain those resources we still have.

“If all we have from the festival is memories of great talks that would be a shame and a missed opportunity,” Dzindolet said.

Although, McArthur believes that these memories could just as easily be enough to call a campus or community to action and change for the better.

“Sometimes, it helps just to have a prominent speaker from out of town challenge us a little bit,” McArthur said, “getting us thinking about things in different ways, and we can make some changes.”

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