How do I exist within the systems around me? How is my environment influenced by economic factors, weather patterns, systems for managing waste, and the moods of the people around me? How can I work with others to make our shared environments more equitable? How do I even engage with these questions on a philosophical level, much less in a way that creates a tangible impact on Goucher’s campus and the world beyond?
Daniela Beall, Goucher’s sustainability coordinator, is an invaluable resource for students grappling with some of these huge questions. After working on sustainability initiatives as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Towson University, she brings an incredible level of energy to her new position on campus. When I asked about what she views as her role on campus, she responded in part that, “there are a few ways of looking at it. One is providing leadership for sustainability initiatives, being an advisor to student groups and helping support student initiatives… and then a large part [of my role] is to be a connector”. By serving as a person who knows about all the types of sustainability initiatives happening in all niches of campus, she can put different individuals or groups in touch with one another so that they can, as she put it, “build power together and build on each other’s work instead of recreating the wheel”. Beyond just connecting people who come to her directly, she also plans on communicating with the campus population as a whole regarding larger-scale initiatives.
When asked about ideas or projects that she would not consider in her purview, Beall told me that she “[sees] sustainability as really broad. I consider myself a generalist, I know a little bit about a lot of things, and trying to see the systems and ways they are interconnected. I am a big fan of collaboration and partnership”. If a student comes to her wanting to talk about equity through a sustainability lens, for instance, she wants to “talk to folks in CREI and to faculty members and bring their specialties and their resources to the table as well,” and if she isn’t the best resource for the situation, she can still connect students to other people on campus who might be more able to help them out.
What is a project that you want to bring to Goucher that will allow us to build more sustainable systems on campus? This can relate to waste management or energy conservation, as is traditionally considered when thinking about sustainability, or it can relate to any other idea that is able to last a long time and improve our ecosystem. One long-standing sustainability initiative that Daniela highlighted that allows students to enact projects like this is the Goucher Environmental Sustainability Advisory Council (GESAC). GESAC is the governing body that awards financing for sustainability projects from the Green Fund. Daniela is “more than happy to be a resource” in this process, and encourages any student who wants to work through this process to come talk to her. There are also a number of student groups dedicated to sustainability, such as the Food Recovery Network, Goucher Green Coalition, Eco Team, Trail Maintenance Club, Plant-based Nutrition, Bee Club, the CBL Environmental Justice Partnership, and many others.
Want to learn more about sustainability? Beall recommends reading the United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals,” posted on the door of her office, which is located in Hoffberger 116. You can contact Beall through the Gopher app, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or by phone (410-337-3035).