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Going Green, Rochester Institute of Technology NY, WITS Talk 30 May 2019

  • 3 June 2019

Going Green Study Abroad, Rochester Institute of Technology

WITS spent an hour with a group of students and faculty from Rochester Institute of Technology (New York, USA) led by Dr Teresa Wolcott on Thursday 30 May 2019. The group is visiting Dublin as part of a study abroad program focusing on sustainability, titled “Going Green: Exploring Innovations in Engineering & Technology with a Global Perspective in Ireland.”

The talk titled Sustainability and STEM in Ireland was given by Dr Marion Palmer of WITS. It outlined the state of gender diversity in STEM in Ireland and informed the students about WITS, its mission and work in:

    • Speaking for and with women in STEM, developing and improving policy and practice for us all.
    • Campaigning for and with women in STEM to inform and educate about women’s participation in STEM.
    • Women in STEM from students to professions, from the life sciences to computing and engineering and in business and academia.

The importance of gender diversity in sustainability was considered e.g. in city planning, not collecting data on caregiving work leads to inefficient transportation systems (see Housing and Neighbourhood Design). It considered how personal action can have an impact on sustainability. The role we all play in promoting a greater gender balance was a theme throughout the talk.

The students made some really interesting observations and asked interesting questions about sustainability in Ireland. Some of their observations and questions are below.

WITS thanks Rochester Institute of Technology faculty Dr Teresa Wolcott and the students for their interest and attention. Thanks to CIEE in Dublin for organising the talk.

Student comments/thoughts on Ireland and sustainability

  • Ireland
    • is doing a great job in transitioning to renewable energy.
    • is making a big effort to move towards sustainability.
    • Is striving for sustainability but lags behind EU.
    • is focused on sustainability and is ‘slightly’ more concerned than the US.
  • Ireland seems to be polarized when it comes to being sustainable. Either people are trying very hard to be sustainable or they don’t care at all.
  • It seems like Ireland as a country is far more progressive and proactive about sustainability than the US. For a country that is thought to be ‘behind’, it is very far ahead sustainable wise.
  • Focus currently is on improving the electricity/energy grid to be more sustainable, instead of other factors relating to climate change
  • Ireland has ambitious goals for the state of sustainability by 2030
  • Many great big level projects but not much integration to everyday life of a citizen
  • Ireland is doing a good job raising awareness for sustainability, especially in young people.

Student questions about Ireland and sustainability (with some answers)

  • What is the public knowledge on new sustainable efforts/ why are they not more educated? How can Ireland reach more people to educate them about sustainability?
  • How deep is sustainability integrated into the culture? Has it been a recent movement or has it been a long time effort to embed sustainability in the culture?
  • How can everyday people make more of an effort to go green?
  • How might recent elections affect progress in sustainability + green thinking?
  • How can a buzzing old city which is steadily increasing in population become sustainable?
  • Is solar power being implemented at all? Yes domestically and commercially and it is being supported with grants.
  • Where does Ireland stand globally in terms of percent of national energy generation that is renewable /sustainable? The answer should be in this SEAI 2018 report.
  • How does Ireland plan on influencing other parts of the world to be more sustainable? Read what our government plans internationally here and nationally here.