University of Vermont

University Communications


UVM to Launch Community Congress

By Joshua Brown Article published September 19, 2007

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, will open the First Annual Community Congress on Integrative Solutions to be held Monday, Sept. 24, and Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Grand Maple Ballroom of the Dudley H. Davis Center. The congress is sponsored by the Leading by Design Task Force.

This two-day event will consider ways UVM might be transformed in the decades ahead, as the university’s Leading By Design project prepares a major grant proposal aimed at making UVM a global leader in sustainable design and integrated environmental problem solving.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend either or both days. Free food will be served.

Additional highlights include a screening of Leonardo Dicapiro’s new film, The 11th Hour (featuring John Todd of the Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources); discussion with renowned sustainability experts including David Orr, UVM Marsh Professor-at-large and chair of the Oberlin College Environmental Studies Program; and opportunities for public input and group discussion.

Hundreds of ideas have been sent in from campus and throughout Vermont to the task force suggesting directions UVM might pursue. Just a few of these include: build a green technology center, grow fruit and nut trees and other edible plants on campus, compost all of UVM’s food waste, join an EPA program to improve the energy performance of new laboratories, give employees time to participate in clinical research studies, install air pumps on campus for bicycle tires and create a new major in “sustainable science.”

Now, to further aid in the development of the proposal, the project’s leaders are calling on members of the UVM and Vermont communities to participate in the congress, helping to provide additional new ideas — and, more importantly, to discuss how the strongest of these ideas can best be integrated and prioritized in the development of a grant application to be submitted to the Lewis Foundation at the end of the year.

On Sept. 24, from 3-6 p.m., Daniel Fogel will open the congress’s “kick-off” with brief remarks followed by a presentation by organizational development expert Peter Seng.

“Our world is in crisis, and time is limited to make the changes required to achieve a sustainable and desirable future. The next 10 years will be critical in finding and implementing real, systemic solutions,” Fogel said earlier this year to launch the design task force. “We at UVM are deeply committed to transforming our university into the world leader in ecosystem thinking, learning and sustainable design in order to meet this challenge.”

Following the president’s lead, the first meeting will provide an update on the work of the Leading By Design Task Force, analyze a variety of projects under consideration, and give attendees the opportunity to develop ideas for further exploration at the week’s end, when the large-group congress will convene.

On Sept. 29 at 10:30 a.m., the First Annual Community Congress on Integrative Solutions will open.

Presentations will run from 10:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and will be made by:

  • Robert Costanza, UVM Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and Director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics
  • Lisa Aultman-Hall, professor of engineering and director of the UVM Transportation Center
  • Alvaro Umaña (invited), UVM Marsh Professor-at-large, former director of the Environmentally Sustainable Development Group at the United Nations Development Programme in New York
  • Fayneese Miller, dean of the College of Education and Social Services
  • David Orr, Marsh Professor-at-large and professor and chair of the Oberlin College Environmental Studies Program.
From 1-2 p.m., a free lunch will be served with small group discussions facilitated by leaders of the task force.

The full Congress will gather from 2-3 p.m. to hear reports from the discussion groups and consider next steps.

A screening of The 11th Hour, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and featuring interviews with David Orr and UVM design expert John Todd, will begin at 3:30 p.m.

The task force continues to seek input from the community via a survey posted on the group’s website at Leading By Design. Ideas can also be brought to either meeting. Community members may email the group at