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Students and Staff Attend the AASHE Conference

This October, four students in varying fields of study and three staff members from the Office of Sustainability traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to hear speakers, contribute to panels, and expand their knowledge of sustainability at the AASHE Conference.

AASHE stands for The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and it is the largest campus sustainability focused event in the nation, bringing together 2,000 participants.

Preston Jacobsen, the Sustainability Manager, explains that “the networking opportunities to continue the dissemination of ideas and insight into our ever evolving field of work,” is a crucial component to the conference. Sustainability is a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative field, so going to conferences like AASHE are an important part of the job.

Shannon Schaefer, the data coordinator for the Office of Sustainability adds that “the conference was more than just learning for ourselves, it was a comforting reminder that we’re all in this together, ready to accomplish great things.”

Students also enjoyed the conference. Riley Smith says that the conference “allowed me to speak with professors from other universities, and solidify my plans after graduation in the environmental ethics field.” The collaborative energy of the conference is something that was felt by all participants.

Emma Heins, an environmental studies major, said that talking to other universities about how they promote sustainability was the best part of the weekend. She notes, “You’ll never know the ideas that are working at other institutions until you talk to them.”

Seeking out new information was the greatest takeaway that the students noted. All the students who attended the conference recommended the experience to interested parties. William Shavers explains, “it was filled with so many experiences and lessons that I can apply to UT and my daily life.” 

Overall, the AASHE was an amazing opportunity for UT Knoxville to network, learn, and collaborate. If this seems like an interesting event to you, there are more opportunities to go to conferences just like AASHE in the future!


In the image above conference attendees (L-R) Lilli Johnson, Emma Heins, Riley Smith, Shannon Schaefer, Carolyn Brown, and Preston Jacobsen

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