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Conferences and Events

Conferences and Events

Upcoming Events:

Fisk Community Environmental Health/Sustainability Forum
“Addressing Environmental Concerns that Impact the Health of our Community: Building Healthy and Sustainable Communities” which is scheduled for March 19, 2011, From 8:30am – 1:30pm. The FREE forum will be held in the Appleton Room of Jubilee Hall on Fisk Campus. To register for this workshop, please contact Robert Wingfield at 615-329-8626(voice mail), 615-329-8816(fax), or email at There is no charge for registration for this workshop. The event flyer provides more information.

Past Events:

Service Learning for Sustainability
On November 12, 2010, the Tennessee Higher Education Sustainability Association (THESA) and the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching co-host this one-day workshop on integrating service learning and sustainability education. The purpose of the workshop was to illustrate how this engagement and synergy can be fostered, building stronger bonds between the campus and the city.  Special attention was given to the pedagogy of service learning—from course design and grading to managing project goals and outcomes—in order to ensure that both students and community-partners find value in the enterprise.  The workshop, which kicked off with a message of encouragement from Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, took place on the campus of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, ranked as the #1 graduate school of education by U.S. News & World Report. Click here to view an event flyer.

2010 Conference & Expo
The Tennessee Higher Education Sustainability Association (THESA) held its fourth statewide conference on sustainability within higher education on March 31-April 1, 2010.  The 2010 conference was held at Trevecca Nazarene University within the institution’s newest and largest meeting hall, the Boone Business Building.  Trevecca’s effort was led by Professor Chris Farrell and his associates.

Workshop on Fostering Sustainability in the Classroom
THESA held a one-day workshop on February 5, 2010 in Nashville on the topic of Integrating Sustainability into the Curriculum.  Representatives from 14 higher education institutions in Tennessee attended, as did government and non-profit staff.  They numbered 45 in all, from across the state.

The Workshop was led by Lindy Biggs, Associate Professor of History and Sustainability Coordinator at Auburn University.  Faculty development workshops were the focus of Dr. Biggs’ presentation.  The full agenda can be found {here}.  Presentations from the Workshop will e posted in the future.

The Workshop was held at Belmont University and was made possible by a grant from the Belmont University Office of the Provost, as well as additional financial funding from the Fisk University Community Environmental Awareness/Sustainability Program.  Leadership was provided by Dr. Darlene Panvini, Coordinator for the Belmont University Environmental Sciences Program.

Green Jobs & Higher Education Symposium
Organized by THESA and convened at Lipscomb University, this symposium was held on April 2, 2009.  It was successful in bringing key state resource people together with officials from higher education institutions across the state.  In all, 74 individuals registered for the Symposium, most coming from community colleges or technology centers.  This was not surprising since most green jobs now envisioned will include some post K-12 education, but not 4-year degrees.

THESA Chairperson Jack Barkenbus, opened the session by asking whether the time was right for higher education institutions in Tennessee to invest in new green jobs curricula.  The answer according to the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, Matthew Kisber, and the state’s energy policy director, Ryan Gooch, was an emphatic “yes.”  Kisber and Gooch said that key opportunities would bypass the state if we didn’t invest in green jobs and that the Governor was dedicated to seeing the state become a leader in clean, renewable, low-carbon energy development.

A subsequent “resource” panel consisting of Martha Wettemann of the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Patrick Bleecker, representing the Tennessee Energy, Industry and Construction Consortia (TEICC), and Paula Flowers of Genera Energy, emphasized green job opportunities.  Wettemann said that approximately 92,000 jobs were lost in Tennessee last calendar year.  The recent state report she authored, Growing Green: The Potential for Green Job Growth in Tennessee, pointed to areas that could potentially offset this job loss.  Bleecker directed attendees to the TEICC website ( where they could find green job related information.  And, Flowers emphasized the coming explosion in bio-based fuels that would require a substantial infrastructure development across the state.

The Symposium concluded with a “higher education” panel consisting of John Townsend, Executive Director of Workforce Development within the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), Dodd Galbreath, executive director of Lipscomb University’s Institute for Sustainable Practice, and Allan Gentry, Chair of the Technology Department at Cleveland State Community College.  Townsend noted that many TBR institutions across the state are actively providing students with skill sets that can be turned into green jobs.  In other words, they are producing students with skills that can be directly transferred into the green industry.  Sometimes, just “tweaking” courses of study with green skill development will be sufficient to turn these into green jobs.  Examples of where this is taking place include Austin Peay University, Cleveland State Community College, Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Walter State Community College, and Chattanooga State Technical Community College.  Galbreath talked about how his institution is offering and closely tracking both a certificate program in sustainability and an MBA.  Gentry described his extensive curricula based on efficiency and renewables in the residential construction sector (and which was awarded the 2008 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for higher education).

All the speakers emphasized the importance of forging relationships with local industries and local governments in order to gain a sense of what specific workforce opportunities would arise.

THESA would like to thank the Institute for Sustainable Practice at Lipscomb University for making this event possible (the help of Dodd Galbreath, Kathy Hargis, and Nichole Richardson was particularly noteworthy) and the Office of Environmental Assistance within the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for symposium support.

For more information regarding the 2008 Green Jobs symposium contact Jack Barkenbus jack.barkenbus@Vanderbilt.Edu

THESA Conferences

Three annual statewide conferences have been held in Nashville, the first (2006) at Fisk University, the second (2007) at Belmont University, and the third (2008) at Lipscomb University.  The Lipscomb Conference drew over 150 participants from 27 higher education institutions and consisted of sessions devoted to such topics as recycling, energy conservation, transportation, instruction/outreach initiatives and climate change commitments. 

2010 conference

2009: no conference

2008 Conference

2007 Conference

2006 Conference