Water and Land symposium brings national voices to sustainability talks


Tim Beatley, a professor at University of Virginia, delivered his speech on the necessity of the incorporation of nature in society during the opening ceremony of the fifth annual Water and Land Symposium in Cartwright Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017.

Logan Lutton

The fifth-annual Water and Land symposium united the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and the College of Arts and Sciences in an attempt to promote a greater understanding of sustainability and preservation of natural resources in day-to-day operations.

The Architecture Building, which meets the highest levels of sustainability, was showcased during the event on Thursday, Oct. 5.

The reason for this partnership is due to the expertise in the College of Architecture. This new push for sustainability includes research on the construction of environmentally friendly structures.

“The co-hosting of the event between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Architecture is unique to this year,” said Reid Coffman, an associate professor of architecture and environmental design. “That shared sponsorship is a first for the event. It’s a very exciting endeavor.”

Panel discussions were lead by various Kent State faculty members, as well as experts from across the country.

“We had some outstanding guests who joined us from other universities,” Coffman said. “They helped create robust conversations about these subjects.”

Joshua Lawler, a professor of environmental and forest sciences, traveled from the University of Washington to participate in the event. Lawler studies the effect of climate change on animal distributions.

“This conference is pretty cool,” Lawler said.  “There was someone talking about innovative designs for environmental solutions, whether they be chairs made out of mushrooms or temporary housing that could grow crickets for you to eat.”

Lawler led his own discussion that morning in which he discussed how effectively animals will be able to cope with climate change.  

“On average, across North and South America, 9 percent of the animals that we looked at won’t be able to move fast enough,” Lawler said. “In the tropics, particularly in the Amazon Basin, primates may have trouble keeping up.”

Kent State students and faculty also had the chance to participate in the festivities. Over 40 different research posters were put on display inside of the architecture building.

Graduate student Daniel Wood presented his findings at the event. Wood is in the beginning stages of his study on the environmental impacts of mining. Some of the negative impacts include the contamination of the surrounding water supply.

“If we can find cheaper, more effective ways to clean up mined land, mining companies are going to be very happy about that, the populations are going to be happy about that and city planners are going to be happy about that,” Wood said.

Coffman already anticipates great things for next year’s event.  

“I hope the momentum of the invent inspires new ways to look at the water-land continuum,” Coffman said.

Logan Lutton is the science reporter. Contact her at [email protected]