Speakers & Workshops


Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa will lead a pre-conference workshop and a performance of her play, Vang: A Drama about Recent Immigrant Farmers, which features the stories of a Hmong family, a Sudanese man, a Mexican woman, and a Dutch boy. Following the performance, Swander will be joined by a panel of immigrant and refugee farmers to discuss the changing face of agriculture in the Midwest.


Keynote speaker

Robin Saha will deliver a keynote address exploring the intersections of sustainability and political engagement, sharing stories of his work with students and diverse communities. Saha is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana and program faculty with UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences and its Climate Change Studies Program. A highly respected environmental justice scholar, teacher, and advocate, he was recently honored as the national winner of the 2016 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award.


Pre-Conference Workshops


Sustainability Across the Curriculum Pre-Conference Faculty Workshop ($60)

Thursday, September 28, 2-8 p.m. (includes dinner)

Friday, September 29, 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (includes breakfast)

  • In 2009, Central College became one of just a few colleges to adopt sustainability as a core course requirement for all students, embracing this as a holistic framework for addressing the interconnections of social justice, economic prosperity, and ecological integrity. Central has since hosted a series of “Prairie Project” faculty workshops, designed to enhance sustainability-focused teaching across the full range of academic disciplines and departments. In 2016, Central was selected as one of AASHE’s Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum, to offer a similar professional development opportunity to faculty from across the Upper Midwest.
  • This UMACS pre-conference workshop will give participants the tools to design a new sustainability-focused course, and/or redesign an existing course, course unit, or assignment. The workshop will introduce key sustainability concepts, pedagogical approaches (e.g. integrating service learning & “campus as a living laboratory” projects), and strategies for transforming departmental or campus curriculum. The workshop will be led by experienced faculty representing the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, and professional programs. Participants will be paired with discipline-specific mentors to support course and curriculum development both during and after the event, and to enhance regional sustainability networks.


Campus Finance Officers Pre-Conference Panel and Workshop ($10)

Facilitator: Sally Grans Korsh, Facilities Management and Environmental Policy Director, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), with panel (to be announced), featuring prominent CFOs from both public and private institutions.

Friday, September 29, 11:30-1:30 p.m. ($10 with lunch, free to participate online)

  • Campus finance officers have the unique opportunity to develop, support, and implement campus sustainability goals; not just the low hanging fruit but substantial change in advancing energy grid, net zero construction, space use, and transformational change. All campuses have major leaders in their finance officers that can be partners to advance the campus sustainability goals. Join experienced regional Chief Financial Officers as they discuss how to best partner and collaborate.
  • Workshop intended for both CFO’s and campus sustainability professionals. Come prepared with your own suggestions, problems and questions. Panel will examine communication methods, techniques and anecdotes on successes and challenges to gather consensus, funding, and  executing institutional move the dial for campuses to become more sustainable; breaking down silos, advancing the sustainability office to a place of leadership, understanding some of the problems in funding sustainability and how to enlighten stewardship to financial, facilities, and environmental issues.


Arts and Sustainability Pre-Conference Workshop ($20)

Facilitator: Mary Swander, Iowa Poet Laureate

Friday, September 29, 11:30-1:30 p.m. ($20, includes lunch)

  • Mary Swander leads a workshop on combining community-based interviews, creative writing, and dramatic monologue to explore difficult topics. She will discuss her own works and the genre of verbatim theatre, from The Laramie Project, to The Exonerated, to Twilight. Participants will have the opportunity to interview each other, find the emotional center of each other’s poems and voices, then present dramatic monologues together. Workshop participants will leave with the tools to write and perform their own pieces of verbatim theatre.

Energy Metering and Dashboard Pre-Conference Workshop (free)

Facilitator: Dr. Steve Huss-Lederman, Beloit College

Friday, September 2911:30-1:30 p.m.(free, lunch provided with support from MAMAC Systems)

  • This pre-conference will examine best practices in metering campus energy for students to access, whether via video displays or online dashboard sites. Three schools (Beloit College, Central College, Macalester College) will discuss how they use energy meter data for a variety of classes, student-centered projects and research, connecting residential and academic learning, campus/public engagement, and how they use, and would like to use, dashboards for energy conservation, behavior change, competitions, and campaigns. In this working session, participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing development of a free, open source energy dashboard website, created by Beloit students in collaboration with other UMACS campuses.