ECONOMICOLOGY 2008 CONFERENCE: A Win-Win for Sustainability

“It will take education and leadership from colleges and universities to meet the environmental challenges we face and leave a healthy world for our children and grandchildren. Together, we can do this…” Peter Wege
The Wege Foundation’s ninth annual ECONOMICOLOGY meeting of environmental leaders and academicians was held on April 24, 2008, at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the first time this April gathering of national sustainability experts from a broad range of universities and colleges also included a large contingent of college and high school students.

The theme of the conference defined the direction of the day-long conversations. “The World As We Want It To Be: Sustainability at Colleges and Universities.” The keynote speaker at the luncheon, Jerome Ringo, Dorothy McCluskey Fellow at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, praised the ECONOMICOLOGY participants for their continued collaboration toward sustainability on campuses around the country.

Working in interactive small groups, the ECONOMICOLOGY 2008 attendees came up with both general and specific suggestions for helping to make “The World As We Want It To Be.” One conclusion all the groups agreed on was that debating the definition of “sustainability” is counter productive. The term will be defined by the changes people begin making to create a sustainable world.

The participants concluded that the mindset of American consumers must be changed from over-consumption to an attitude of “less is more.” They discussed the fact that during the global emergency of World War II, Americans quickly converted their lifestyles into daily habits of rationing, conserving, and reusing.

The question was raised that perhaps it will take a comparable crisis, but an economic one, in this country to change the current thinking that bigger is always better.