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Episode 69 of 146

Julie Newman - Director of Sustainability at MIT

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Dr. Julie Newman joined MIT as the Institute’s first Director of Sustainability in the summer of 2013. She has worked in the field of sustainable development and campus sustainability for twenty years. Her research has focused on the intersection between decision-making processes and organizational behavior in institutionalizing sustainability into higher education. In 2004, Julie was recruited to be the founding Director of the Office of Sustainability for Yale University.  At Yale, Julie held a lecturer appointment with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where she taught an undergraduate course entitled – Sustainability: From theory to practice in institutions.  Julie came to Yale from the University of New Hampshire, Office of Sustainability Programs (OSP) where she assisted with the development of the program since its inception in 1997.  Prior to her work with the OSP she worked for University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF). In 2004 Julie co-founded the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium, to advance education and action for sustainable development on university campuses in the northeast and maritime region. Julie Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss: MIT's next generation approach to sustainability Collaborative efforts to address climate change Managing short-term and long-term sustainability goals Businesses and government learning from sustainability in higher education Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders Julie's Final Five Question Responses: What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers? Always be a listener. If you're heading into a new organization, always go in and listen first and assess your rapid assessment of the system before suggesting a whole series of solutions. What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability? There seems to be an emerging understanding that partnerships are essential in achieving these broad based goals. That's something I have been advocating for almost two decades. And now it feels like it's just a natural part of the discussion, that in order for us to seek and achieve goals such as carbon neutrality, partnerships are essential. Sustainability offices can't do this alone. Often organizations can't go this alone. And I'm seeing partnerships between higher education and industry taking off, partnerships between higher education and their local municipalities taking off and between higher education and utilities companies. When you add all of these up, I think we're going to see greater and greater impact. What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read? This fall I have picked up Bill Clark's book entitled Pursuing Sustainability and I have found that to be almost like having a refresher course. It's called Pursuing Sustainability: a guide to the science and practice. Few chapters I've gone back and actually read a couple of times. I've read many sustainability books, but I highly recommend that one. Bill Clark and his team really took their time to lay out the complexity and the depth of these challenges in such an articulate thought provoking way and it's very accessible. What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work? People. My favorite resource are other partners across the world. I'm part of a very robust, 11-year old network called the International Sustainable Campus Network. I have built a remarkable network of colleagues around the world that I look to for second opinions, for ideas, as catalyst as thought provokers and to seek common ground. It makes the world feel like a smaller place. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work you're leading at MIT? I'd suggest they go right to our website. I'm really proud of my team for the site that we've put together: sustainability.mit.edu. It's a great place to learn about the way we have framed our scales of impact across the role of the individual, the campus, the city and the globe.