UW-Stevens Point: Small City and Regional Community conference focuses on environmental sustainability

“Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development: Problems and Prospects” will be the focus of the 18th Conference on the Small City and Regional Community to be held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Wednesday and Thursday, April 6-7.

Sponsored by the UWSP Center for the Small City, the conference is free and open to the public and will be held in the Dreyfus University Center.

“Economic development alone is not enough for America’s small cities and regions. While economic development is critical and fundamental to a healthy small city and/or region, cities and regions need to also focus on a more sustainable economic model,” said conference co-founder Robert Wolensky, professor of sociology. “Even in these difficult economic times, small cities and towns can be leaders in a more sustainable economic model for the 21st century.”

The conference begins Wednesday, April 6, at 7 p.m., in the Alumni Room with welcome remarks by Chris Cirmo, dean of the College of Letters and Science, and Paul Fowler, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology (WIST). The featured keynote speaker will be Jamie Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and a faculty member in the Institute for Sustainable Practices at Northwestern University, who will speak on “Policy Challenges: Energy Politics and Public Opinion.”

Panel discussions will take place Thursday beginning at 8:45 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. According to Miller and Wolensky this conference offers a variety of expert panels.

“By design, Thursday’s panel discussions focus on Central Wisconsin and its ongoing sustainability efforts tied to regional economic development,” said Miller. “Our panel participants are leaders in their respective communities and will share their best practices and expertise. Panels include:

8:45 a.m.— a discussion on energy, food and ethics. Chaired by Chris Diehm, department of philosophy, panelists will include Pastor Tom Lindner of Newman University Parish, Rev. Susan Zencke of Frame Memorial Church, and Rev. Steven Olson of Trinity Lutheran Church.

10:30 a.m.—discussions on climate change, community design for sustainability, and issues facing the sustainability economic model in the 21st century. Chaired by Wolensky, panelists will include Jeremy Solin of the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, Eugene Martin, visiting instructor in geology and geography, and Kevin Korpalla of the Downtown Grocery in Wausau.

12:45 p.m.—discussions on local food systems, green careers and job training, and an international perspective on sustainability. In addition, there will be a panel of mayors from Wausau, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids to discuss environmental concerns.

2:30 p.m.—discussions on sustainability and the natural environment, food and the food systems, and the Central Wisconsin Resiliency Project, a local example where a community can collectively implement sustainability principles and measures.

Other conference sponsors include the College of Letters and Science and WIST at UWSP. The previous seventeen volumes of Conference Proceedings can be found at the University Library and at the U.S. Library of Congress.

See the Center for the Small City for a complete conference program and more information about the Center or call 715-346-2708.