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      Beideman Scholar Lecture

      Beideman Scholar Plants a Seed of Optimism for Sustainability

      peggy barlett lectures

      Dr. Peggy Barlett

      Dr. Peggy Barlett, a leader in sustainability in higher education, is the 2017-18 Beideman Visiting Scholar.

      On Feb. 13, the Oskin Leadership Institute welcomed Dr. Peggy Barlett, a leader in sustainability in higher education, as the Beideman Visiting Scholar for 2017-18. An award-winning specialist in agricultural anthropology and sustainability in higher education, Barlett serves as the Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology at Emory University.

      As a social scientist, Barlett spent her career abroad doing research, when she realized she was never focused on the "place" of her own surroundings in Atlanta. "We need to look around at the system we live in," she said. "We are not measuring the environmental cost, and we are ignoring the social cost."

      Planting the Seed

      With her new point of view on the environment she set out to take a year off from researching and solely focused on sustainability. She focused on how she could make a difference on the university level at Emory.

      Barlett was prepared to encounter a number of obstacles with this platform, but what she discovered was that everyone was interested in becoming more sustainable and wanted to join her cause.

      "At Emory, we have a long way to go, but we are getting things accomplished," Barlett said. She took the first steps in learning what it would take to have a zero net building and proposed the idea, which the university is now taking the steps to pursue.

      Nurture the Plant

      In order to have success with becoming more sustainable, Barlett acknowledges the need for support. "The solution often for colleges is to grow enrollment, the idea of expanding is true in improving sustainability, you need more buy in, and you need to nurture the community to help you grow."

      Reap the Harvest

      At Emory, Barlett promotes the idea of "restoration and reflection." "We encourage these practices," she said. "And more schools are adopting these ideas." As more people are motivated to become more sustainable, Barlett is optimistic for the future of sustainability.

      "It starts with the seed that we must nurture in order to reap the benefits of the harvest," Barlett said. "Now is the time to reap the harvest of creative people and use that to move us forward."

      In moving forward, Barlett urges everyone to make sustainable decisions that are as efficient as possible, starting with your own purchases such as a home or car, and being aware of the impact of your carbon foot print.

      The Oskin Leadership Institute Beideman Visiting Scholars Program brings distinguished scholars from outside institutions to spend time at Widener sharing their expertise and guiding faculty and student discussion and research. The Beideman Visiting Scholars program was established by Paul Beideman, current treasurer of Widener's Board of Trustees, along with his wife, Caroline, in 2011.

      Learn more about the Oskin Leadership Institute and its diverse programs.


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