The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Michelle Sun '23 Attends the 2019 Ivy Council Leadership Summit

Students at the Conference, from all 8 Ivy League schools, pose for a group photo.

Students avidly discuss how sustainability can be pursued in the industrial sector.

Students listen intently during a breakout session.

Keynote speaker Susan Golden presents on the various practices that are harming the environment.

The delegates work together to brainstorm solutions to current sustainability problems.

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There were many aspects about the 2019 Ivy Council Leadership Summit that made it a very valuable and interesting experience. Not only was I exposed to a totally new environment (as this year’s conference took place at the University of Pennsylvania), but I was also able to find myself immersed in various new viewpoints from peers of my own age group. What made the conference exciting, I think, was the scope of information covered, as well as the energy that many of the delegates and speakers brought to the sessions.

One of the most important aspects of the conference was its focus on sustainability in relation to various topics like the environment, the private sector, mental health, etc. The two guest speakers that came, Hiroko Oura and Susan Golden, each brought thought-provoking issues to the table that challenged myself and my fellow delegates to think more deeply about the world around us. Oura, who serves as the Deputy Division Chief of the Financial Sector Assessment and Policy at the IMF, presented to us various situations in which environmental sustainability could be hindered by monetary factors. This idea sparked a good deal of conversation among the delegates, who later on discussed how to advance current sustainability practices and infrastructure with meager funds. It was interesting to see how reality and idealism clashed, especially in relation to economics. Though each of us could envision a system of sustainability that we thought would benefit society, none of us could see how to install said system without a decent amount of money. Oura’s speech had succeeded in challenging us to factor economics into our plans for future sustainability.

The speaker that followed towards the end of the conference, Susan Golden, spoke on the different common practices that are proving to be detrimental to the environment. In her speech, she included various issues like the use of pesticides, algae blooms, and soil nutrient depletion. Though many of the issues she discussed were already known to us, the depth that each subject was given really helped to further our understanding of these problems. After her speech had concluded, a delegate nearby told me that they were very glad that she had spoken on these environmental issues, as she did not have a very thorough knowledge of them. What had for many years remained a very superficial issue for her was now made clear and detailed. In the future, she hopes that this in- depth knowledge will help her better analyze the complicated environmental sustainability problems that now plague us.

As a final note, I also believe that one of the most rewarding portions of the conference were the moments I spent with my fellow delegates. Being able to discuss the problems facing my generation with the people who will be working to solve them is a unique experience. I think each delegate from the 8 Ivy League schools really brought quite a lot of energy and excitement to the conference. It was because of this that the conference and breakout session proved to be lively, with a great deal of productive discussions. For this reason, on top of the ones I have previously stated, I am glad that I attended the 2019 Ivy Council Leadership Summit. I think it is a very valuable experience-- appealing to any student who craves the adventure that comes with the unknown.

-Submitted by Michelle Sun '23, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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