Focus on Energy

OWU’s first Environmental and Natural Resource Symposium draws an “energized” crowd

Panel members (left to right): Gordon Aubrecht, physics professor at The Ohio State University (Marion Campus); Paul Centolella, commissioner at the Public Utilities Commision of Ohio; Sean Kinghorn, energy conservation and sustainability coordinator at OWU; and Andrew Meyer, economics professor at OWU. (Photo by Rex Welker)

Members of the Ohio Wesleyan community and friends had the opportunity to attend the first Environmental and Natural Resource Symposium on February 27, to hear about and discuss many of the challenges, opportunities, and choices pertaining to energy conservation, as well as innovations in both conventional and alternative energy sources.

“It is appropriate that during this inaugural symposium, our attention is drawn to energy and the many ways it is important to our lives,” said OWU President Rock Jones, as he addressed the large group in the Benes room of the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. “Consumption of energy resources is important to our economic development, to global affairs and our international security, and to our environment and the sustainability of our planet. I can’t think of a better topic to address during this symposium.”

Sponsored by OWU’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business, and Entrepreneurship and the economics department, the symposium was coordinated by economics professor Andrew Meyer, who is especially interested in economics related to resources of our environment and planet. Meyer taught a recent travel-learning course on ecotourism, which included study about sustainability and ecotourism issues in Costa Rica with his students and economics colleague Alice Simon, co-director of the Woltemade Center.

“”I wanted to reach a wide audience from the OWU and central Ohio communities, so that we could discuss the most pressing issues involving energy,” said Meyer, who envisions the symposium as an annual program at OWU. In planning this first symposium, Meyer looked at several experts in the area. Those panelists who participated in the inaugural session were Gordon Aubrecht, physics professor at The Ohio State University, Paul Centolella, commissioner at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and Sean Kinghorn, energy conservation and sustainability coordinator at Ohio Wesleyan.

Aubrecht provided a scientific viewpoint on innovations in the energy sector; Kinghill spoke about energy consumption matters at Ohio Wesleyan, and opportunities for energy reduction; and Centolella presented information about environmental regulation, and what several challenges, choices, and opportunities lie ahead.

“Today, more than four billion people worldwide have some access to electricity, and by 2050, that number will rise to nine billion,” he said, adding that more than one trillion dollars then will need to be invested in the world’s infrastructures. Looking at ways to engage consumers and develop new technologies and resources are top priorities.

“I was impressed by the level of questions coming from students,” said Meyer. “Many have emailed me, indicating their interest in pursuing environment-oriented study.”

Watch the entire symposium:

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