Speakers: Gioia Thompson, Sustainability Director at UVM and Aaron Whitham, Sustainability Coordinator at Green Mountain College.
Gioia Thompson has been working on sustainable practices at the University of Vermont since 1996, where she was appointed director of the Office of Sustainability in 2008. She is responsible for tracking the institution’s environmental performance; recommending environmentally responsible practices; working with students, faculty members, and staff members on environmental projects; and connecting with the Vermont and higher education communities.
Recent activities include support of the EcoReps, a residential education program; developing public information for the University’s new LEEDTM Gold certified student commons; analyzing the University’s greenhouse gas emissions; co-teaching a project-based course focusing on the Presidents’ Climate Commitment; and participating in regional and national professional dialogue on environmental performance in higher education.
She currently serves on the steering committees of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium and the Burlington Legacy Project. Gioia received a B.A. in Environmental Studies in 1987 with an honors thesis on municipal leaf composting, and an M.S. in Natural Resources in 2000 on sustainability in higher education, both from the University of Vermont.
Aaron holds an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont and a Graduate Certificate in Ecological Economics from the Gund Institute at U.V.M. As a Transportation Research Scholar at U.V.M.'s Transportation Research Center and a Gund Student Fellow, Aaron focused his research on alternative economic approaches, sustainable transportation, energy issues, and climate change. He also holds a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and studied environmental science for two years at Unity College. His career experience includes serving as the Managing Director of the Center for Environmental Education in Maine and the Interim Sustainability Coordinator of Unity College.
Aaron's environmental ethic grew out of his family's dependence on the land in rural New Hampshire through hunting, fishing, gardening and foraging for food, while harvesting local wood for heat. Later in childhood, he lived in suburban Cape Cod where he saw the effects of sprawl first-hand and a different land ethic. He is very interested in how certain economic policies feed cultures of over-consumption and sprawl, often at the cost of not only environmental health, but human happiness. He enjoys coordinating campus sustainability efforts in order to teach alternative cultures and practice ideas for alternative sustainable systems in the microcosm of a college setting.