‘Change Agents in Their Communities’

Caroline Davies, director of the Environmental Studies program and associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, leads the annual Environmental Sustainability Research Symposium at UMKC. Photo by Brandon Parigo, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Browsing through 120 research posters, it’s easy to see how small environmental changes can collectively make a big impact in the Kansas City area.

One case study centers on swapping Styrofoam packaging for greener options on a food truck. Another tracks a law firm’s drive to go paperless. Another shows how using LED bulbs for indoor overhead lighting saves not only energy, but thousands of dollars.

The posters make up the 6th Annual Environmental Sustainability Research Symposium, and were the final projects of University of Missouri-Kansas City undergraduate students in a general education course. Their research spans a wide variety of communities, typically a place where the student lives or works: commercial, residential, hospitals, assisted living, apartment complexes, banks, schools, places of worship. Topics include recycling, energy, waste, green products, education and behavior.

“The impacts have been tens of thousands of dollars, but more importantly, students learn how they as individuals can and have made a difference,” said Caroline Davies, director of the Environmental Studies program and associate professor in the Department of Geosciences. “These undergraduates are change agents in their communities.”

Davies said this project has become something students take with them throughout their careers. The projects can lead to jobs, too. One past student’s project was a springboard to a position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the past six years, the symposium has generated nearly 500 case studies spanning the Kansas City metropolitan area.



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