Highlighted Contributions

Here we highlight just some of the stellar accepted panels, symposia, workshops, and presentations. Much more to come!

Session Panels

The Future of the Energy Workforce: Identifying and Addressing Gaps in the Clean Energy Workforce

David Foster  (EFI Foundation), Madeline Schomburg , EFI Foundation) Phil Jordan (BW Research), Daniel Goldsmith (Julius Education), Nikki Luke, University of Tennessee (and DOE Office of Policy through July 2024) 

The clean energy transition requires an increase of diverse workers across industries and technologies, which presents an unprecedented opportunity to provide workers access to good jobs that contribute to national clean energy goals. In 2024, the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy contracted the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and a team of researchers to assess the impact of unprecedented policies (IRA, BIL, and CHIPS) on workforce demand and supply projections across all sectors, occupations, and regions across the country. Part of the analysis also explored workforce supply generated from various workforce training programs and conduct a gap analysis between workforce supply and demand. From industrial decarbonization hubs to community-level clean energy systems, there are abundant opportunities to develop the workforce to meet employer workforce needs. In this panel presentation, the research team will present preliminary findings from the study and gather feedback related to the analysis and findings and explore opportunities to fill the gap between workforce supply and demand. Workshop participants will also discuss potential strategies to meet emerging needs related to the clean energy transition, identify specific strategies institutions or regions could develop to meet the needs, and explore regional partnerships to address the gaps between workforce demand and supply. A focus will be on workforce transition opportunities and training opportunities.

Case Study: Using Academia and Sustainable Open Innovation 

Ryan Johnson (Arizona State University), George Basile (Arizona State University), Satoshi Shimono (Mitsubishi Chemical Group (MCG), Kevin Dooley (Arizona State University),  April Deckert (Arizona State University), Ryan Mores(Arizona State University), Stormy Light (Arizona State University) 

Making progress on global sustainability challenges within global business requires a wide variety of coordinated technologies and actions and reframing sustainability as a strategic decision making and innovation opportunity. A single organization is often not able to make such transformative change by itself. Is it therefore possible for an academic institution to simultaneously transform a corporate sustainability innovation culture and help people and planet through workforce education? The Global KAITEKI Center (TGKC) at Arizona State University (ASU) was established as a collaboration between ASU and Mitsubishi Chemical Group (MCG) to explore how this type of joint engagement could succeed. TGKC focuses on combining natural and social sciences, integrating academics and corporations, and scaling from local to global. TGKC is endeavoring, in part, to transform the workforce through focusing on re-skilling company employees and providing education in three unique modalities: individual learning for sustainable open innovation; workshops for teams developing market-informed sustainable innovation; developing a Sustainable Innovation Academy.  Within Japan-based MCG, a unique culture of sustainability and open innovation has been steadily taking root and growing since the terms were defined. However, challenges have arisen. Indeed, sometimes organizations have difficulty thinking beyond short-term profit maximization. Organizations may feel they have no choice but to retrench or become temporarily less sustainable. We will share our case lesson on how these seemingly irresistible dynamics can be mitigated and even reversed through workforce empowerment and engagement.

Preparing a Green and Blue Workforce 

Andres Henriquez, Josephine Louie, Jackie Delisi, Education Development Center

EDC will be giving a progress report on a convening held in early in 2024 entitled Preparing a Green and Blue Workforce (greenblueworkforce.edc.org/). The initiative engaged 100+ economists, scientists, K-12 formal and informal education leaders, STEM industry leaders, community leaders, government leaders, and philanthropic leaders in collective action to address inequities and ensure all youth are ready to thrive in STEM-rich sustainability careers in green and blue economies. EDC is leading cross-sector mobilization efforts, developing new resources, raising visibility via media outreach and social media campaigns, and forming strategic partnerships with industry, K-12 education, career-tech, and community colleges to advance collaborative work to ensure youth from groups that are underrepresented in STEM careers are prepared to benefit from new opportunities emerging from both the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.  The panel will discuss the proceedings from the Preparing a Green and Blue Workforce convening and presenters will also give updates on regional workshops that will be held throughout 2024-2025.

Bio-based fuels and chemicals for a low-carbon economy 

Francesca Pierbon, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Bio-based fuels and chemicals are produced from renewable sources of biological origin, including, but not limited to, residual woody biomass, agricultural residues, algae, and municipal solid waste. Interest in bio-based fuels and chemicals is growing due to their lower global warming impact compared to their fossil-based counterparts. Research in this area encompasses a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, conversion technologies, techno-economic analysis, life cycle assessment, supply chain analysis, and community impact assessment. 

This session will include original research contributions in the field of sustainable bio-based fuels and chemicals and their interaction with the natural environment. The session will include the following research topics:

• Techno-Economic Analysis and Life cycle assessment-based environmental analysis of bio-based fuels and chemicals.

• Advances in bio-based fuel and chemical production from waste and biological feedstocks, including, but not limited to, residual woody biomass, agricultural residues, algae, and municipal solid waste.

• Linkages between increased bio-based fuel and chemical use and impact on natural systems including Land Use and Land Use Change.

• Analysis of bio-based fuel and chemical demand and sourcing to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

• Evaluation of socio-economic impacts of bioenergy projects on disadvantaged and rural communities.

Tools for utilities to facilitate decarbonization

Gregory Rouse, EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute)

All industries are working to accelerate decarbonization, with many of them electrifying their fleets and processes as a key mechanism, taking advantage of ongoing reductions in the electrical grid's carbon intensity. The energy utilities that maintain and power the grid can be key partners in enabling both company- and economy-wide carbon reduction. With a foundational mission to benefit society, EPRI delivers independent, objective thought leadership and industry expertise to help the energy sector identify issues, technology gaps, and broader needs that can be addressed through effective, collaborative research and development programs. EPRI SMEs can speak to the ongoing efforts, tools, and strategies at play within the energy industry that support decarbonization initiatives, innovation in sustainability, and implementation of emerging technologies. Greg Rouse (moderator and panelist) leads the Energy Sustainability Interest Group, the largest collaborative research group focused on sustainability in the energy industry, with over 35 energy utility members across North America. This group conducts research and develops tools to support the development and enhancement of utility sustainability programs. Deep technical expertise at EPRI, covering the energy sector's value chain, further supports much of this sustainability work. Panelist Dan Livengood conducts technical research in energy supply and demand. He currently focuses on R&D in two areas: 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy, which explores hourly matching of clean energy to load rather than the more common method of annual energy consumption to renewable generation, and Energy Storage Systems, which could be key enablers of reliability and resilience in future electric grids with high levels of renewable energy. Panelist Jamie Dunckley is a Program Manager for Electric Transportation and a lead for EPRI’s EV2Scale initiative. Jamie and her team have created a first-of-its-kind interactive map called the eRoadMap. This interactive energy map presents the approximate amount of energy needed at a local level to electrify transportation over time for light, medium, and heavy-duty electric vehicles. 

Research to Policy: NASEM Sustainability Roundtable

Emi Kameyama, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Established in 2002, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability represents one element of robust sustainability activities within the National Academies. The Roundtable draws on the expertise of leaders from research institutions as well as senior decision-makers from government and industry who deal with issues of sustainable development, and who are in a position to mobilize new strategies and resources for sustainability. The Roundtable works to provide a high-level forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability. The goal of the Roundtable is to mobilize, encourage, and use scientific knowledge and technology to help achieve sustainability goals and to support the implementation of sustainability practices. During the pre-organized panel, speakers will briefly present an overview of the Sustainability Roundtable, including its approaches to sustainability and recent accomplishments. Presentations will focus on perspectives from industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations, including key messages from the National Academies 2020 report, Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels and opportunities for engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals. The specific topics to be highlighted during the session, among others, include the need for holistic workforce development for sustainability professionals relating to the National Sustainability Conference’s key focus areas. Sustainability professionals could be immersed in the dynamic facets of their field, cultivating enthusiasm, and a profound engagement with the diverse challenges and innovations encompassed in sustainability practices across ecological, societal, and other domains. 

In addition to sharing the Roundtable’s key accomplishments, this proposed session will include an interactive discussion among the speakers and participants to discuss possible strategies to engage youth, civil society, and local governments and foster partnerships between sectors, regions, and nations in addressing sustainability. The goal of this session is to reach diverse and influential audiences that cross all sectors to ensure that the audience to be inspired by the Roundtable’s work, in addition to identifying long-term science and technology strategy for sustainability. Intended audiences will include policymakers, researchers, practitioners, civil society, educators, business and philanthropic leaders, students, and other stakeholders involved in their efforts toward sustainable development.

Research Frontiers for Industrial Decarbonization 

Benjamin Sovacool, Boston University, and colleagues.

This session will be organized around the following research gaps for industrial decarbonization: 

1.        Develop theories and conceptual frameworks specific to industrial decarbonization. It is difficult to find conceptual approaches or frameworks specifically created for net-zero industry. Therefore, new heuristics may be warranted to help guide research, analysis, and policy. 

2.        Broaden consideration of co-benefits. Existing research focuses mostly on air pollution, health, and carbon emissions, but may miss other co-impacts across political, social, and economic dimensions. 

3.        Utilize representative national or local surveys specific to industrial decarbonization, rather than decarbonization generally. This can include sector-specific surveys covering various modes of industry, or specific forms of transport such as carbon pipelines. 

4.        Move beyond models and surveys to a stronger evidence base. Other forms of evidence include stated preference techniques such as community interviews, household diaries, or focus groups, or revealed preference techniques such as embedded ethnography, naturalistic observation, or spatial analysis. 

5.        Better understand the portfolio aspects of technical industrial decarbonization options and crosscutting trade-off risks. Options differ in their risk, uncertainty, investment needs, intersections across sectors, and timing.

6.        Appreciate the stakeholder networks and regional governance dynamics of industrial decarbonization. This may be done via a multi-actor, multi-technological, multi-scalar approach via hubs and clusters. 

Institutional Innovation for Municipal Green Infrastructure 

Wendy Jepson, Texas A&M University, Lauren Fischer, University of North Texas, Bardia Heidari, Texas Water Resources Institute, Joni Palmer, University of New Mexico, Heidi Himmelberger, Southwest Environmental Finance Center and University of New Mexico.

Rapid urbanization under climate change conditions accelerates stormwater flooding, often beyond the capacity of traditional gray infrastructure. One commonly acknowledged solution to this capacity deficit is Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI). BGI offers an array of environmental co-benefits. Although acceptance is growing, BGI faces socio-cultural, financial, and institutional path dependencies that limit the production, restoration, enhancement, maintenance, and efficacy of nature-based solutions. A major challenge of community resilience and an unacknowledged opportunity to enhance sustainable stormwater adaptation is found in municipal management practices. This panel will discuss strategies for institutional innovation to support the adoption and scaling of blue-green infrastructure in the United States. 

Sustainability Careers 

Moderator: Chris Boone, Arizona State University. Panelists: Peggy Brannigan, Business Council on Climate Change; Ed Chu, EPA Deputy Administrator Region 7; Wes Herche, Senior Product Manager, Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon;  Alice Reznickova, University of Colorado-Boulder; Ellen Weinreb, Weinreb Group Sustainability and ESG Recruiting.

The number of sustainability jobs is growing rapidly and there are not enough qualified people to fill those positions. At the same time, the nature of sustainability careers is changing rapidly, making it challenging to prepare students and others seeking jobs and building careers in this quickly evolving field. This session will bring together sustainability experts from higher education and private, public, and non-profit organizations to discuss trends in job requirements and responsibilities, and the training and preparation necessary to succeed. 

Case Study: Using Academia and Sustainable Open Innovation

Moderator: Ryan Johnson, ASU College of Global Futures. Panelists may include: George Basile, ASU School of Sustainability; Satoshi Shimono, Mitsubishi Chemical Group (MCG); Kevin Dooley,  ASU W. P. Carey School of Business; April Deckert,  ASU College of Global Futures; Ryan Mores, ASU College of Global Futures; Stormy Light, ASU College of Global Futures

Making progress on global sustainability challenges within global business requires a wide variety of coordinated technologies and actions and reframing sustainability as a strategic decision making and innovation opportunity. A single organization is often not able to make such transformative change by itself. Is it therefore possible for an academic institution to simultaneously transform a corporate sustainability innovation culture and help people and planet through workforce education? The Global KAITEKI Center (TGKC) at Arizona State University (ASU) was established as a collaboration between ASU and Mitsubishi Chemical Group (MCG) to explore how this type of joint engagement could succeed. TGKC focuses on combining natural and social sciences, integrating academics and corporations, and scaling from local to global. TGKC is endeavoring, in part, to transform the workforce through focusing on re-skilling company employees and providing education in three unique modalities: individual learning for sustainable open innovation; workshops for teams developing market-informed sustainable innovation; developing a Sustainable Innovation Academy.  Within Japan-based MCG, a unique culture of sustainability and open innovation has been steadily taking root and growing since the terms were defined. However, challenges have arisen. Indeed, sometimes organizations have difficulty thinking beyond short-term profit maximization. Organizations may feel they have no choice but to retrench or become temporarily less sustainable. We will share our case lesson on how these seemingly irresistible dynamics can be mitigated and even reversed through workforce empowerment and engagement. 

Sustainability Spark Sessions

Maximizing the Impact of Sustainability Research 

Benjamin Sovacool, Boston University

Researchers today need to secure funding, collaborate, share data, publish results, commercialize research, and demonstrate impact. Early career researchers in particular are faced with multiple pressures around these challenges.  This spark session will help scholars, especially early career researchers, gain an understanding of how to design their research more effectively, and how to improve your chances to get your work published.  Using examples from the energy and climate social sciences field, it will bring attention to the importance of clearly articulating research questions, objectives, and designs. It will provide a framework for conceptualizing novelty. It will suggest codes of practice to improve the quality and rigor of research. It will provide guidelines for improving the style and communication of results. It will lastly discuss what academic (and non-academic) impact are and propose ways to enhance it.  In doing so, the presentation will give you first-hand insights into successful research methodologies, what journal editors (and reviewers) look for, as well as advice on how to successfully promote your work. 

Session Symposia

Translating Science into Impact for Sustainability

Edward Carr, Laura Forni, Derek Broekhoff, Charlotte Wagner, and Rob Bailis (Stockholm Environment Institute)

Much is made of the importance of science-policy interfaces to promote informed, effective sustainability policy and outcomes. However, less attention is paid to the various ways in which science, and research more generally, brings about impact in the world. In this symposia, researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute's US Center describe the different pathways to impact taken in their projects and programs, illustrating both the many opportunities for research to influence sustainability outcomes while also highlighting the importance of developing effective theories of change for such impact.  

From Critique to Re-envisioned Sustainabilities

Laura German, Jesse Abrams, Brock Woodson (University of Georgia)

Since the late twentieth century, there has been an ongoing and sustained critique of the prevailing paradigms and practices driving conservation, governance, food systems, and infrastructure development, among other fields. These critiques, emanating from Indigenous and peasant communities, social and natural scientists, and others, have highlighted the ways in which dominant systems of thought and practice fail to meet the needs of people–especially the most marginalized–while also exacting heavy tolls on the more-than-human world. In light of these critiques, there is a pressing need to identify new principles, models, and paradigms that are more just, equitable, and integrative and that embody substantive steps forward in the pursuit of sustainability and justice. Building on Paul Robbins’ metaphor, there is a need not only to employ the “hatchet” of critique, but also to plant “seeds” of a better future.  This pre-organized symposium brings together students and faculty from the University of Georgia and partners working to re-envision sustainability futures across disciplines and sectors. Contributions will include a paper on “rethinking conservation” that explores the troubled history of biodiversity conservation in the United States and beyond, while drawing on Indigenous scholarship and other historically marginalized standpoints to re-think the future of conservation practice. A second contribution on “rethinking infrastructure” presents a framework for moving beyond conventional infrastructure, which in its narrow focus on controlling natural capital has inadvertently degraded biodiversity while perpetuating social inequities. A third contribution focuses on “re-thinking food systems”, bringing competing visions for sustainable food futures into dialogue with (i) professional experience across collaborative projects to consider the future of academic knowledge production and training and (ii) methods for envisioning pathways toward more sustainable and desirable food futures. The final paper attempts to “re-think fire” by integrating critical perspectives from the ecological and social sciences and using these critiques to posit key elements of sustainable fire futures.  Ample time will be left for discussion to draw out insights across fields and collectively envision the “seeds” of life-affirming sustainability futures. 

What makes a difference? Teaching community engagement

Jennifer Lee Johnson (Michigan State University), Alder Keleman Saxena (Northern Arizona University, Leah Mundell (Northern Arizona University), Nora Timmerman (Northern Arizona University), Lindsey Falkenburg (Northern Arizona University)

Goralnik, Lissy, Michigan State University, goralnik@msu.eduTeaching community engagement for sustainability presents a central challenge: how can educators provide students with a substantive experience while also advancing the goals of a community partner. Or, put more colloquially, how can educators cultivate student-community partnerships without wasting anyone’s time? This symposium features presentations from five faculty members in degree-granting Community Sustainability programs at two public universities. Drawing on lessons learned and best practices for teaching community engagement, the presentations showcase multiple models of and methods for engaging students, communities, and building partnerships with community institutions. Acknowledging the diversity of student backgrounds and class sizes, this symposium recognizes the need for adaptable teaching approaches. It also explores the interdisciplinary nature of community engagement, highlighting the importance of collaboration across fields and communities of expertise – including residents of the communities where we work. Presenters will share experiences of addressing common challenges encountered when teaching community engagement for sustainability and offer innovative solutions for overcoming them. By incorporating perspectives from various fields – including theories of “the social” –  this symposium also underscores the importance of contemplative practice and faculty mentorship for advancing students’ efforts in community towards a more sustainable future. 

Cover Crops for Cleaner Skies

Kazi Ullah, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

This symposium brings together scientists from national laboratories and research universities who have been seeking to answer these many questions about “cover crops” through projects funded by DOE, USDA, and DOT, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment (ASCENT), the USDA-funded Sustainable Partnership for Advanced Renewable from Carinata (SPARC) and Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm & Energy Resilience (IPREFER), the DOE Office of Science Center for Bioenergy Innovation (CBI), and the DOE BioEnergy Technology Office’s project on “National Availability and Delivered Cost of Cover Corps Managed as Biofuel Feedstock.” The five talks provided in this symposium will provide an overview of the current status and prospects for using pennycress, carinata, and camelina for SAF production at national to regional scales and then dive into examples of research on carbon credit mechanisms to incentivize farmers to adopt carinata production, genetics research to optimize the desired properties of pennycress through seeds and use of soil microbes, and efforts to characterize the total life cycle emissions and associated with SAF production from cover crops. 


The Key Competencies in Sustainability Framework

Krista Hiser, Global Council for Science and the Environment and Meghann Jarchow, University of South Dakota 

Sustainability Education includes academic degrees as well as training, retraining, and upskilling in many contexts: professional development in the workplace; technical training programs; academic credentialing; community development; activist groups; high schools; home schools; independent learning. Even within higher education settings, sustainability education occurs across multiple institutional types (community colleges, public and private universities including Minority Serving Institutions and tribal colleges; levels (associates, bachelors, and graduate) and domains including general education, Sustainability across the Curriculum, Discipline-focused Sustainability-Related, and Sustainability Education. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) 2020 report, "Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels," emphasized the need for a consolidated set of key competencies in sustainability to facilitated program design and evaluation – as well as learning outcomes in these multiple contexts.

The Key Competencies in Sustainability Framework (KCSF) is an interconnected set of eight clusters of competencies in systems-thinking, futures-thinking, values-thinking, strategic-thinking, intrapersonal and interpersonal competency, implementation, and integrated problem-solving competency. Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are integrated throughout the framework as values-thinking plays a leading role. The KCSF framework has been developed over two decades, with contributions from many academic scholars (Arnim Wiek, Aaron Redman, Marco Rieckmann, Katja Brundiers and Jordan King, among others. In 2022-2023 the Global Council for Science and the Environment assessed convergence across academic practitioners and researchers, and developed a Convergence Statement and professional resources for the KCSF including a FREE learning module, “Thinking through Sustainability Challenges with Key Competencies in Sustainability.”

In this 90 minute workshop, learners, educators, and practitioners will gain an overview of the KCFS as well as how the framework is being used by educators and practitioners at different levels, contexts, and dimensions of education. While primarily oriented to higher education, the workshop would be relevant to anyone engaged in Sustainability Education. Participants will gain an overview of the Key Competencies in Sustainability Framework, its historical development and current applications. Participants will also preview the learning module and workbook, with opportunities to discuss how they teach, learn, and assess Key Competencies in their own work. All participants will gain early access to the beta test of the learning module for use in Fall 2024.

Facilitator Expertise: This workshop is facilitated by Dr. Krista Hiser, Program Director for the Pathways towards Accreditation initiative at the National Sustainability Society. Dr. Meghann Jarchow, a co-author in the Delphi study on Key Competencies in Sustainability, will co-facilitate and provide a case study perspective. 

Note: this workshop pairs well with the workshop that will follow it: Best Practices for Sustainability and Sustainability-Related Degree Programs in Higher Education. 

Best Practices for Sustainability Degree Programs

Krista Hiser, Global Council for Science and the Environment, and Teri Balser, University of Calgary

The rapid evolution of academic sustainability degree programs, both in the U.S. and internationally, and at undergraduate and graduate levels, raises important questions for administrators, faculty, current and prospective students, and employers across all sectors. How can students find the best programs for their goals? How do employers know the value of sustainability degrees? How do sustainability degree programs differ from related fields of environmental studies and sciences, or emerging programs such as resilience or energy education? A 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), entitled Strengthening Sustainability Programs and Curricula at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels, articulated the necessity for defining a field:  "Academic institutions of higher education should embrace sustainability education as a vital field that requires specifically tailored educational experiences and the development of core sustainability-focused competencies and capacities delivered through courses, majors, minors, certifications, research, and graduate degrees in sustainability." (p. 5). In response to critiques of academic sustainability degree program preparation, a program-level accreditation is being designed by and for stakeholders in Sustainability Education. Through discussions, workshops, and roundtables with employers, students and recent alumni, higher education experts, administrators, faculty, and program directors, a synthesized set of Best Practices in eight grounded areas of program practice have been developed. The grounded areas include core areas of Unit Organization, Curriculum, Pedagogy, Assessment, and support areas of Leadership, Campus & Community, Faculty Support and Student Support.

This 90 minute workshop is designed for anyone with an interest in strengthening Sustainability Education programs in higher education. Participants will gain an overview of the Best Practices as part of a unique and context-sensitive process for program evaluation and accreditation. After understanding the full process, participants will have an opportunity to provide input on the Best Practices, further iterating these Best Practices as guidelines for program-level accreditation for Sustainability in Higher Education.

Participants will:

Facilitator Exerptise:  The workshop is facilitated by Dr. Krista Hiser, Program Director of the Pathways towards Accreditation initiative at the National Sustainability Society, and Dr. Teri Balser, co-chair of the Sustainability Education Community of Practice. 

Note: This workshop pairs well with the workshop that will precede it: The Key Competencies in Sustainability Framework: an educational framework for use in multiple dimensions and domains for teaching and learning.

Hands-on How-to: Collaborate for Climate 

Mila Rosenthal,  International Science Reserve

From droughts to floods, scientists are warning that climate-related disasters will continue to get worse, even if there are emissions cuts. Collaboration is essential to help combat the most devastating and destructive impacts of climate change. And to ultimately succeed and meet our climate goals, the climate movement needs people with completely different backgrounds and skills who can quickly break down national and disciplinary borders to problem solve. COVID-19 showed that individuals and institutions that don’t normally collaborate can work successfully together in emergencies. But collaboration needs to be practiced and constant, during both shorter-term emergencies such as mega wildfires, heatwaves, new pathogens – and the ongoing larger crisis of climate change.  It is possible to architect a new normal for collaboration, that will help accelerate both mitigation AND adaptation: reduce emissions to meet ambitious climate goals; and respond faster to climate-linked disasters, saving lives and protecting ecosystems.  

Led by an expert facilitator, participants from all disciplines are welcome in this hands-on workshop training. They will practice their collaborative problem-solving skills with a variety of realistic and engaging climate-related scenarios.  Participants will walk away with the confidence to reach across the aisle or discipline that they are in and build stronger networks to make their work more effective during crisis situations.

Facilitator Expertise: Dr. Rosenthal runs the ISR, a network of over 10,000 scientists in 100 countries worldwide who are working together to prepare for and act on the next major crisis, including climate-related disasters. 

Navigating Science-Policy Interface for Impact

Caitlin Grady, George Washington University

This is an engaging workshop designed to bridge the gap between sustainability science and public policy. Aimed at a diverse audience including students, scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers, this session will demystify the process of integrating academic research and expertise into the policymaking world. Whether you're a seasoned researcher or a student just beginning to explore the realm of sustainability, this workshop will offer valuable insights into how your work can contribute to meaningful policy changes and societal impacts.

The primary goal of this workshop is to equip participants with the tools and knowledge needed to effectively translate their research and expertise into actionable public policy.  Attendees will learn:

Participants will leave the workshop with a clear understanding of how to leverage their expertise for the greater good, ensuring their contributions to sustainability science have a lasting impact beyond the academic realm.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have:

This workshop promises a comprehensive toolkit for those looking to extend the impact of their sustainability science efforts into the public policy domain, fostering a future where research and expertise drive societal progress and equitable solutions.

Facilitator Expertise: Dr. Caitlin Grady has developed expertise at the intersection of science and policy over the course of 15 years having served in both academic and policy roles across the sustainability landscape. She will share real-world experiences from her roles with the U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Energy, Department of State, Penn State University, and her current institution, George Washington University. As a testament to her expertise, she has also founded a company which offers government relations advice to research and industry organizations. Finally, Dr. Grady is a trained and certified facilitator and mediator.

Participatory Modeling for Climate Justice 

Dr. Moira Zellner, Northeastern University

Participatory modeling (PM) is a collaborative approach to formalize shared representations of a problem and design and test solutions through a joint modeling process. PM is well-suited for addressing complex social and environmental problems (e.g., climate change, social and economic injustice, sustainable resource management), where interaction effects among multiple actors and factors make the causes and consequences of the problem unclear, and where a diversity of values and perspectives may lead to conflict about concrete pathways forward. Engaging in participatory modeling with different modeling techniques helps elicit diverse stakeholder knowledge (formal/informal, explicit/tacit, scientific/experiential) and harnesses this diversity to move from conflict to solutions as the collaboration strengthens relationship-building, empathy, trust, systems thinking, and collective agency for decision-making. 

This workshop will introduce and test an initial version of fora.ai, a new PM platform developed at Northeastern University. The platform is an intuitive digital environment that enables diverse stakeholder groups to collaboratively interact with embedded simulation models to understand real world socio-environmental problems and create novel and impactful solutions. Stakeholders interact with this digital representation and with each other, iteratively creating, revising and testing solutions until diverse needs are addressed. fora.ai provides quick results for data-driven proof of concepts that are ready to be presented, designed, and implemented in the real world, giving everyone in a team the power to share their unique perspective and build the world they want to live in together.

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to use an early version of fora.ai’s interactive game-board to collectively build green infrastructure solutions to flooding in a neighborhood in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The virtual environment allows for both in-person and online participation in a facilitated process in which users will: 1) input their individual priorities, 2) collaboratively run simulations to understand flooding issues in the neighborhood, 3) co-design green infrastructure scenarios to address these problems, 4) see how their changes affect the simulation, and 5) deliberate on the tradeoffs that arise from each solution due to competing priorities. Participants will, with facilitator assistance, engage in multiple iterations of the process of prioritization, solution-building, and reflection on results. This process will allow them to refine their proposed solutions towards a design they would jointly support for implementation, with an understanding of its benefits and drawbacks. 

Participants will need to bring in their own laptops or mobile tablets to the workshop. 

Life Cycle Assessment of Bio-based Materials and Systems

Prof. Indroneil Ganguly and Dr. Francesca Pierobon, University of Washington

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an internationally recognized method for assessing the environmental impact of products and processes throughout their life cycle. This workshop combines theoretical knowledge and applications of LCA to bio-based products and systems.

The specific topics to be covered in this workshop include:

--> Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment standards and methodology

     -- Concepts around system boundaries and cut-off rules

     -- Allocation principles and impact assessment approaches

--> Introduction to the concepts of Product Category Rules (PCRs) and the much-discussed Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

--> Analysis and application of Life Cycle Assessment to bio-based products Implementation of Life Cycle 

--> Relevance and validity of the biogenic carbon neutrality assumptions

--> Introduction to an open-source LCA software

      -- Learning to access the software and search for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data

      -- Learning to run an existing LCA within the system

      -- Learning to interpret the data, LCIA


The first-ever US National Nature Assessment 

Phillip Levin, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, plevin@usgcrp.gov; Francis, Tessa, U.S. Geological Survey, tfrancis@usgcrp..gov

The Biden-Harris administration has launched the first-ever National Nature Assessment to take stock of U.S. waters, biodiversity, wildlife, and lands and the benefits they provide to people. The National Nature Assessment (NNA) pulls together for the first time the vast array of scientific information, data, and Indigenous knowledge available about nature in the U.S. to provide a holistic view of the state of nature, how it is changing, and what those changes mean for the wide range of services nature provides. The NNA scope is directly informed by how people define their relationship to nature, from marine, coastal and estuarine systems to agricultural fields, urban parks, and wildlands; and how nature and its changes affect, and will affect in the future, our economic vitality, health and well-being, safety and security, and cultural heritage. Woven throughout the assessment are interactions between climate change and nature change, and an accounting of the equity, or lack thereof, with which both nature’s benefits and the brunt of impacts from nature loss are distributed. The NNA will inform actions and guide decisions to restore and conserve the valuable natural assets so vital to people’s lives now and for generations to come.