Allegheny College to Host Fifth World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities

Global delegates gather to focus on educating the sustainability leaders of the future at one of the first U.S. colleges to reach carbon neutrality

Allegheny College, one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold, will host the Fifth World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities (WSSD-U-2022), June 16–17, 2022. This year’s symposium focuses on “Educating the Sustainability Leaders of the Future” and will contribute to development of this fast-growing field. Researchers, educators and delegates from colleges and universities around the world will gather to display and present their works relating to teaching sustainable development while fostering an exchange of information, ideas and experiences.

Allegheny College’s Associate Professor Beth Choate, Ph.D., chair of the Environmental Science and Sustainability department, and Professor Eric Pallant, Ph.D., Christine Scott Nelson Endowed Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability, are chairpersons of WSSD-U-2022 along with Professor Walter Leal, Ph.D., director of the Research and Transfer Centre “Sustainability and Climate Change Management” (FTZ-NK) of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Also collaborating are representatives of the European School of Sustainability Science and Research in Hamburg, the World Sustainable Development Research and Transfer Centre, the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme and the United Nations University initiative, “Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development.”

Previous WSSD-U conferences held in Rio de Janeiro and Manchester, UK, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Universiti Sains Malaysia have demonstrated a need for a continuation of the dialogue among sustainability academics and practitioners. WSSD-U-2022 will be hybrid, so delegates worldwide may attend either on the Allegheny College campus or virtually.

“Allegheny College is proud to be hosting the Fifth World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities,” said Professor Choate. “Members of the ESS department have presented at all of the previous conferences, and each year delegates are impressed by the work that we are accomplishing at a small, liberal arts college with undergraduate students. Hosting this conference after all the others have been held at large research institutions around the globe demonstrates that we are a significant player in sustainability education.”

The focus of the Fifth World Symposium is on how to educate the sustainability leaders of the future. Delegates participating at WSSD-U-2022 include sustainability officers and directors, teaching and research faculty, university administrators, campus facilities and operations staff, consultants, student leaders and others interested in the field. The wide range of participants will help to develop integrated approaches towards sustainable development and contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a group of 17 initiatives agreed to by all United Nations Member States in 2015 that recognize that tackling climate change and protecting the environment must go hand-in-hand with strategies that end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth.

The wealth of experiences and accepted papers at WSSD-U-2022 will establish how higher education institutions are collaborating and partnering with their local communities, organizations, industry and other groups to accelerate climate action by tackling intertwined issues of climate, economic inequality and public health. The goal of the symposium is to document such experiences and make them available to a global audience.

Six papers will be presented and published by teams of Allegheny College faculty and students covering topics including:

  • College-Community Environmental Collaborations: Guidance for Successful Community-based Projects and Research
  • Student Knowledge and Perceptions of a Green Campus
  • Growing a Resilient Campus Forest: Opportunities, Barriers, Solutions
  • Academic and Non-profit Environmental Organization Collaboration: A Case Study on Forest Conservation with Allegheny College and the Foundation for Sustainable Forests
  • Embodying the Ethics of Sustainable Development: An SDG-Themed Community Engaged Learning Cohort for Future Leaders
  • The Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium: A State-Wide Collaborative Network for Sustainable Outreach, Education, and Action

Allegheny College was one of the first eight institutions of higher education in the United States to achieve carbon neutrality, doing so in 10 years without a substantial endowment, a large staff or a big budget. For the last five years, the College’s Environmental Science and Sustainability program has been listed among the top five in the U.S. for its interdisciplinary, experiential approach, acknowledging and understanding the mutually dependent relationship between the environment, economy and justice. Allegheny College students and faculty tackle real-world problems, actively working to create a regenerative community economy with equitable access to healthy food, renewable energy, clean air and water, good jobs and healthy living environments.

“As countries of the world strive to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Allegheny College is dedicated to taking a leadership role on the global stage to produce multidisciplinary approaches, methods and projects that may be replicated elsewhere,” concluded Allegheny College President Hilary L. Link, Ph.D., a member of Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Steering Committee. President Link will deliver the welcome address for the delegates.

All presentations, posters and papers at WSSD-U-2022 will be documented and disseminated in a book, “Educating the Sustainability Leaders of the Future,” as part of the award-winning “World Sustainability Series” published by Springer, one of the world´s top five scientific publishers.


About Allegheny College

Allegheny College, founded in 1815, is one of the nation’s oldest and most innovative four-year colleges where multidisciplinary learning breaks the conventional mold. It is one of the few colleges in the United States with a unique requirement to choose both a major and minor for graduation, to provide students with a cross-disciplinary path in the sciences and humanities for educational depth and intellectual growth. Located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny College is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” In its 2021 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny College in its Top 20 Best in Undergraduate Teaching and Top 30 Most Innovative National Liberal Arts Colleges.