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

Sydney Towle '22 Helps Organize The Dartmouth Sustainability Summit

Attendees of the Dartmouth Sustainability Summit take a lunch break together. 

Attendees of the Dartmouth Sustainability Summit watch green career panelists speak. 

Attendees of the Dartmouth Sustainability Summit attend a "Finding Your Why" presentation.

Sponsor banner for the Dartmouth Sustainability Summit.

Article Type 

The Dartmouth Sustainability Summit brought together students from various colleges to discuss sustainability action on their campuses and sustainable practices in general. It also involved career panelists and speakers to further students' knowledge of sustainability beyond the college campus.

As a first-year student at Dartmouth, the experience of planning such a large- scale event, like the Sustainability Summit, was completely foreign to me. However, as the event itself is only a year old, everyone on the planning committee was still learning how to create a truly successful event. We all got to go through this learning process together and really iron out the details which cumulatively contributed to the event’s value and purpose.

One of my main takeaways from planning the Dartmouth Sustainability Summit is that teamwork is an essential component to any event’s success. It truly was not something any one person could have pulled off by themselves, and it required the unique skill sets of every person on the planning committee. The network of collaboration and communication that we had on our committee was truly instrumental to the event’s prosperity. Outside of our weekly committee meetings, we also had constant open communication via group chat and were always willing to help one another with individually delegated tasks. This made the workload of planning much more manageable and the process as a whole much more efficient.

Similarly, the value I derived from the Summit came mainly from the inter-college collaboration that incorporated a diverse variety of backgrounds and walks of life. At times I feel as though we can get stuck in a “bubble” within our Dartmouth community. By communicating with a variety of opinions and ideas, you are forced to recognize that your approach to a problem, especially one related to sustainability, is not the only one that may work. Rather, each issue has a multitude of solutions that your individual perception fails to recognize. The diversity of perspectives at the Summit allowed us to widen our perceptions and to incorporate new ideas that we may not have otherwise been exposed to.

It was clear that other students appreciate this exposure to new perspectives as well. A student studying business at Concordia University in Montreal gave an insightful presentation on his work on sustainability. A significant portion of his presentation was dedicated to how he has to change his approach to sustainability when working with his major peers.

This event opened my eyes to the multitude of sustainability initiatives and programs, or lack thereof, that exist at surrounding peer institutions. I gained great context and perspective that has improved my contributions on campus to the organizations of which I am a part. The Sustainability Summit also inspired me to want to do more. I have greater understanding of Dartmouth’s sustainability-related shortcomings, privilege and how have a toolkit and network that eases campus changemaking.

One of the attendees who was on the Summit Planning Committee is the Sustainability Chair for her sorority, Alpha Phi. She is already in the process of implementing ideas and work students from other schools shared at the Summit. It’s easier to implement change when you already have proof of success from student sustainability leaders at surrounding schools.

It is important for those who share a common vision and/or goal to communicate and collaborate with each other. The great challenges of our time, such as climate change, are not solvable by individuals alone, but through teams, organizations, and partnerships. The 2019 Sustainability Summit opens up a space of dialogue and reflection to future leaders in sustainability, and it has been a unique experience being a part of the “background” team which prepared and organized the event. Even amongst ourselves the organizers, diversity of background (age, race, finances, etc) has lead to rich discussions and creative ideas.

-Submitted by Sydney Towle '22, 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.

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