As Florida A&M University inaugurates President Elmira Mangum this week, the school held a sustainability symposium Thursday to reflect one of her priorities. Professors and local officials joined students at the event on the FAMU campus.
FAMU’s first female president, Elmira Mangum, held the event to bring attention to two of her platforms, environmental justice and sustainability. The symposium included a series of panel discussions and a student poster contest. The event comes months after Mangum launched the school’s Sustainability Institute this summer. Abena Ojetayo is executive director of the institute. She moderated the panel.
“I think sustainability is really an idea and a concept and an issue whose time is here," Ojetayo says, "and we really don’t have a bigger question to answer between sustainability intertwined with justice and equity.”
Richard Gragg is an associate professor in the School of Environmental Science and symposium coordinator. He says the forum brings together people from various disciplines to share their knowledge, "but it is to do it in a focused manner to have achievable outcomes and impacts that is mutually beneficially to the university and the community, but especially our students."
Building Green Initiative Director Felicia Davis was another panelist. She says sustainability institutes are not common at historically black colleges and universities. Davis compiles data about sustainability efforts in the HBCU Green Report. She says FAMU will set the pace for other schools and provide leadership in areas such as food sustainability.
“As an 1890s land-grant institution stepping forward in this way is a bold move into the future," she says.
FAMU political science student Ursula Ible attended the forum and says she learned a lot.
Ible says, “One key word that came to my mind is learning and partnerships. I really love that. And I think we need these kind of collective circles, we need these kind of forums for the students to learn what’s already out there."
Ible and a group of her peers operate the FAMU student community garden across from FAMU DRS High School.