Preliminary agenda

9-9:50 a.m. – Sustainability Workshop

The Acquisition and Application of Sustainability Datasets in Illinois
Dr. Ryan Burge, political science, Eastern Illinois University
Dr. Nichole Hugo, sustainability, Eastern Illinois University

Data is more abundant today than at any point in human history. But where can it be found and how can it be visualized? This workshop will focus on the most helpful places to find exhaustive datasets regarding energy, the environment, and sustainability, focusing on data in Illinois. Discussion will center around both the positive aspects of gathering information on the internet as well as possible drawbacks to data gathered online. In addition, there will be several walkthroughs on how to create both static and dynamic data visualizations. The focus here will be on tools that are both free and open source as well as some additional links to tutorials and online learning platforms to make data visualization easier and more effective for both scientific and lay audiences. There will be discussion of how to make visually appealing traditional charts and graphs, and will include a tutorial about how to generate an interactive map with free open source tools. The workshop will include plenty of time for questions and answers, as well as for the group to work through the data visualizations on their own computers.

10-10:50 a.m. – Sustainability Presentation

Defining Sustainability in a Post Covid-19, World: Global, National, and Local Challenges and What this Means for Illinois
Dr. Robert Brinkmann, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Northern Illinois University

Since the publication of the Brundtland Report in the 1980s, the definition of sustainability has adapted to changing times. It is important to recognize that at this moment, we are approaching a post-COVID reality in an emerging era of environmental, economic, and social sustainability crises. Extensive fires across Australia and the Amazon, increasing income inequality, and the breakdown of human rights and civic institutions in many corners of the world (including the United States) all point toward accelerating end intermingling complex challenges. This presentation will highlight several emerging sustainability challenges at the global, national, and local scale and what this means for Illinois. Special attention will be given to the issues of food, water, and environmental change and how these themes fit within traditional and emerging definitions of sustainability.

11-11:50 a.m. – Sustainability Presentation

The Benefits of Buying Local
Dr. Amy Bardwell, Illinois State University

The local food movement has been steadily gaining support for more than a decade, and Illinois is no exception to this increasing trend. But why should restaurants consider buying local? Why should consumers want to support local restaurants and local farmers? This workshop explores how supporting local and regional food businesses gives consumers a sense of belonging, can enhance the local economy, and encourages tourism through showcasing the local flavors. Real restaurants and farms in Illinois will be highlighted and the work they are doing to connect with each other, and consumers will be discussed.

12-12:50 p.m. – Sustainability Plenary Address

Science that Serves: Basic science in service of applied research interests that benefits public health, ecosystem services, and future innovation.
Dr. Danielle Lee, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The biggest public health challenges on the horizon will require a collective scientific attack. Yet, all too often applied scientists such as epidemiologists or those in public health, and practitioners such as physicians are battling diseases such as Ebola or Hanta or Corona viruses in the dark. Physicians and public health scientists that are focused on treatment and transmission may fail to recognize critical zoonotic factors that evolutionary biologists and ecologists are aware of because of their training in natural history, population biology, animal behavior and evolutionary biology. These basic scientists understand the species that are often the vectors and reservoirs of these viruses. Working in silos means both basic and applied science misses important opportunities to collaborate, as well as coordinate effective responses to current and soon-to-come public health problems. This need for basic and applied science interaction and collaboration doesn’t apply only to Life Sciences, but to the Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Technologies, too. My lab examines the descriptive ecology and behavior of local field mice and giant pouched rats in Tanzania, aiming to understand how these species successfully make a living near people and often times at our expense. In turn, this information is especially useful to communities in ongoing pest management battles, to public health researchers, as well as applied psychologists who train pouched rats to detect landmine explosives and diagnosing tuberculosis exposure in patients.

Individuals who would like to observe the morning workshop, presentations or plenary address should email Professor Burge at to request a zoom invitation.

Afternoon Poster and Research Presentations: panel sessions in the afternoon will follow on the hour.

Presentations will be for no more than 10 minutes per panel, and will be followed by comments and analysis from a panel discussant.