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OCU Hosts Sustainability Conference

The Oikos scholars organization at Oklahoma City University is hosting an ecological sustainability conference called “Caring for Our Home” Sept. 23 and 24.

Conference attendees will learn ways that college campuses can work with communities to create education programs and partnerships to help the environment.

Registration for the conference is $75 and includes meals during both days. Registration is due Sept. 12 and can be done online at www.ica-usa.org/events.

Conference speakers will share their expertise in ecological sustainability. They will include:

* David W. Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics.

In 1987 Orr organized studies of energy, water and materials use on several college campuses that helped to launch the green campus movement. He organized the first-ever conference on the effects of impending climate change on the banking industry.

In 1996 he organized the effort to design the first substantially green building on a U.S. college campus. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center was later named by the U.S. Department of Energy as “One of Thirty Milestone Buildings in the 20th Century” and by The New York Times as the most interesting of a new generation of college and university buildings. The Lewis Center purifies all of its wastewater and is the first college building in the U.S. powered entirely by sunlight. The sustainability laboratory is designed to train future scientists dedicated to solving environmental problems.

In 2000, Orr proposed the goal of carbon neutrality for colleges and universities and subsequently organized and funded an effort to define a carbon neutral plan for his own campus at Oberlin. Hundreds of colleges and universities have made the pledge.

His recent projects include a two-year $1.2 million collaborative project to define a 100-day climate action plan for the Obama administration. He is also active in efforts to stop mountaintop removal in Appalachia and develop a new economy based on ecological restoration and wind energy. His present work is focused on making the City of Oberlin a model of full-spectrum sustainability and replicating that effort through a national network.

Orr is the recipient of seven honorary degrees and other awards including the Millennium Leadership Award from Global Green, the Bioneers Award, the National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, a Lyndhurst Prize and the Santa Monica Library Pioneer Award for contributions to sustainability literature.

* Mary Elizabeth Moore, dean of the Boston University School of Theology. Moore’s recent books include “Teaching as a Sacramental Act,” “Ministering with the Earth” and “Teaching from the Heart.”

* Daniel Wallach, executive director and founder of Greensburg GreenTown, an organization that is working with a rural town in Kansas that was leveled by a tornado. City and county officials are rebuilding the town using sustainable principles in hopes of being deemed the most environmentally friendly community in the nation.

 Wallach co-founded the Colorado Association of Nonprofit Organizations. He was also active in the development of the association of nonprofits movement nationally.

* Catherine Hart, program director for Greensburg GreenTown. Hart has had a passion for green living and renewable energy since the 1970s, working during her collegiate years with Missourians for Safe Energy in her first foray into sustainability. She has worked as a counselor and educator, and has designed workshops pertaining to wellness.

* Larry Ward, director of the Lotus Institute, a non-profit religious and educational institution. Ward has spent his life committed to non-violent social change, healing and transformation on a global level.

In his capacity as international director of the Institute of Cultural Affairs, he served in leadership programs in 35 countries engaged in socio-economic development projects in urban and rural areas. Ward has been an ordained Christian minister since 1972 and received the Dharma Teacher Transmission in 2000 by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a leading proponent of Engaged Buddhism in the United States and leads retreats in mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism around the. He helped to found Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, Calif.

The “Caring for Our Home” conference is co-sponsored by Oikos and the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the U.S.A. Lodging has been arranged with the Courtyard by Marriott near the OCU campus, with transportation provided between the hotel and the university.