A University Sustainability Officer and an Organic Farmer - a career of an alumnus
Country: United States, Currently living in Budapest, Hungary
Current work position: Environmental and Sustainability Officer, Central European University, Organic Farming Team Member, Zsámboki Biokert, Hungary
Graduation year from the IIIEE: 2012 (MESPOM Batch 17-6)
Describe your job and the most exciting aspects of it
Each week for me is an exciting mix of physical and mental work which test my endurance. I spend a portion of my week working mostly outdoors as a team member on an organic vegetable farm in the Hungarian countryside, and the rest of my week doing something completely different while fulfilling my duties as University Sustainability Officer at CEU. On weekends I enjoy spending time selling vegetables from the farm in Budapest’s open markets. Both tasks require dedication, creativity, and the ability to connect with people, and I find balance in the mix of physical and mental work which the two tasks require.
My role within the University is exciting because I am responsible for developing the foundational elements of the Campus Sustainability programme, which if done successfully should influence all university operations: building managment, student activism, sustainability education, procurement processes, waste and energy management, and everything in between. My work at CEU gives me the opportunity to influence University processes which truly result in the improved environmental performance of our institution. We are just at the beginning of the sustainable transition here at CEU, but we have had great success in raising awareness of environmental issues on our campus through activism and outreach events. We hope that this momentum can continue to influence the Unversity at the managment level.
I also feel very privledged to be able to participate in the CEU Campus Redevelopment Project, which is the plan to redesign and rebuild a major portion of the CEU campus in the heart of Budapest over the next few years. Stemming from previous years of campus environmental activism, a committment to sustainable design priciples has been kept since the preliminary design stages of the project. I work directly with the project architects and environmental consultants who are working to ensure that we produce a modern, energy and resource efficient building stock which delivers an optimal working and study environment for our community members.
Did studying at the IIIEE contribute to you getting this job? If so – how?
The coursework that I completed at IIIEE which focused on environmental managment in industry, energy efficient systems, and corporate social responsibility prepared me adequately for the Sustainability Officer position. This post requires a unique understanding of institutional processes and policy, along with a sufficient knowledge of techinical solutions which result in improved environmental performance.
Additionally, in order to inspire community members I need to be creative and be able to transfer messages which result in smarter behavior in a clear and conscise manner. The learning environment at the IIIEE encourages creativity, which was very helpful in preparing me for my current University tasks.
What do you wish current and future IIIEE students?
I would like to encourage all current and future IIIEE students to realize their capacity to contribute meaningfully to their community while studying at the institute. Students do not need to wait until the point of graduation to activate themselves, as throughout the course they possess skills and knowledge which could be put to use in their surrounding area.
At Lund University, and in the surrounding region there are many great groups to donate time to, who are working on building stronger communities locally. I suggest students explore all opportunities to volunteer, educate and promote environmental issues while studying at the institute. Lund University has a great Student Sustainability Organization, and some of my fondest memories of my time in Lund can be traced back to my time spent as a volunteer with the 'Ett Grönare Lund' (A Greener Lund), a gardening education group. I developed skills that I still use today while trying to pass on knowledge of home gardening to the youngsters who participated in the programme. I hope all current and future IIIEE students realize the capacity they have to influence the people around them while they spend time at the Institute.