Folt touts USC’s role in a more sustainable LA at Business Council summit
Business and environmental leaders and experts from across the country gathered Thursday morning at USC’s University Park campus to discuss how education, business practices and policy will shape the future of Los Angeles.
After two years of being held virtually, the Los Angeles Business Council’s Sustainability Summit took place in the university’s Town and Gown Ballroom. The 16th annual event addressed topics including the city’s clean energy future, revitalizing buildings with carbon-free energy, water resources and drought, and realizing a new transportation sector. fully electric.
USC President Carol L. Folt noted that creating a greener, more sustainable Los Angeles for all residents is an admirable goal, but to do so, people from all walks of life need a seat at the table. As a biologist, Folt said his own mindset had shifted from thinking of sustainability as a way to preserve the beauty of the natural world, to seeing it as a way to create greater equity in society.
“Some of the solutions for sustainability taken in the short term or taken from a point of view can seem to exclude people,” Folt said. “One of our biggest jobs is to get people to learn beyond differences and work through those thorny issues without immediately dividing their attention.”
Sustainability Summit Features USC Experts
Also representing the university throughout the summit, Alan Arkatov, founding director of the Center for Global Engagement-Driven Education at USC Rossier School of Education, moderated a conversation on “Edible Education”; and USC Director of Sustainability Mick Dalrymple, who participated in a panel discussion on carbon-free energy in buildings.
Dalrymple highlighted USC’s Assignment: Earth project, an action-oriented plan to guide the university’s commitment to sustainability and addressing climate change leading up to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
“We are one of many anchor institutions in Los Angeles and in the community, so we have a responsibility to lead, and we have a responsibility to lead by example,” he said.
City leadership was well represented in a panel featuring Folt, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who discussed clean technology and the future of the workforce. work from Los Angeles. The exchange was moderated by Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American and Ethnicity Studies at USC, who began by addressing the Inflation Reduction Act. Pastor called the bill, signed into law by President Joe Biden last month, “the most significant piece of federal environmental justice legislation,” and highlighted how it benefits disadvantaged communities.
“I’ve been saying all along, how do we make sure equity is built in rather than sprinkled on?” said the pastor.
From there, the discussion led to the collaborative effort between USC, UCLA, and the other community and four-year colleges in Los Angeles to train the next generation of the workforce. Folt pointed out how having two top research universities in a big, forward-thinking city is a perfect combination.
“In this city you have two of your greatest research universities in America, both committed to climate neutrality by 2025,” Folt said. “It’s a really big deal – and it’s about California, and it’s about this region, and it’s about the city helping to run it, so be really proud of that. “
Folt also discussed USC’s sustainability efforts thus far and the university’s upcoming goals, including carbon neutrality, increased access to electric vehicles, and offering sustainability courses in various disciplines.
“We have 22 different vocational schools, and we believe sustainability should be deeply embedded in all of them, whether you’re in business or the arts,” Folt said.
Sustainability Summit: LA in 2035
One of the final questions posed to Folt, Garcetti and Block asked what they had seen when they envisioned LA in 2035. Folt quoted world renowned primatologist Jane Goodall: “The real danger for the future is the apathy.”
“I think by 2035 the apathy will be gone,” Folt said. “I hope I wake up in a place where students aren’t limited in their future based on where they grew up and what it costs to get there, and we’re leading the way by forming people and giving them access to education at all levels, with great respect and a liveable life with it.
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