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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Headlines International Sustainability Conference Conference Hosted by Villanova University April 22-25

The conference is part of Villanova University’s “Year of Sustainability”

Kennedy’s April 23 keynote is one of more than 30 scheduled events, including panel discussions, a theater production and Earth Day celebration

April 16, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa., April 16, 2009 – The 2008-09 academic year was coined the “Year of Sustainability” at Villanova University – a year that has focused on student and faculty education, curriculum development, research, sustainable campus programs and community outreach. Villanova will put an exclamation point on its Year of Sustainability by hosting “From the Local to the Global: International SustainAbility Conference” April 22-25, an interdisciplinary event highlighted by a keynote address from environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. All events will take place in The Connelly Center, on the campus of Villanova University.

Kennedy will deliver the conference’s keynote address Thursday evening, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. During his address, “Our Environmental Destiny,” Kennedy will discuss the important role that our national surroundings play in our work, health and identity as Americans. Using examples gathered from art, history, litigation and literature, he reminds us that we have a responsibility to protect and preserve the environment for future generations.

Villanova has a campus-wide Commitment to Sustainability, the cornerstone of which is the signature by University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. on the nationwide American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Villanova is working to achieve its environmental goals through a number of different methods including education, water conservation, waste reduction, the use of renewable energy resources, the advancement of energy conservation and green building certification.

In fact, Villanova’s Fedigan Hall will be renovated this summer and converted to a “green dorm” and a model of sustainability for the entire campus. A number of research-related sustainability initiatives will be part of this project including geothermal heating/cooling and rain gardens.

Villanova’s four-day conference features expert speakers and more than 25 panel discussions on a multitude of topics relating to sustainability, as well as a dramatic play about environmental activist Rachel Carson and an Earth Day celebration featuring student discussions on sustainability. Conference panels include speakers from across the country and the world, as well as participants – faculty and students – from all four of Villanova’s colleges and its School of Law.

Kicking off the conference on Wednesday, April 22 is Villanova’s annual Earth Day celebration, which will feature a student-led discussion, “Community Activism in the Face of Global Climate Change,” from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by a showing of the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car”.

Another highlight of the conference is a theatrical performance of Kaiulani Lee’s “A Sense of Wonder,” the award-winning play about renowned marine biologist and nature writer Rachel Carson, whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. The play will take place Friday, April 24 at 6 p.m., in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium. Registration for the play is required.

Villanova students will again take to the stage Saturday, April 25, leading a panel discussion entitled, “Taking the Lead: Students, Green Campus Initiatives, and Environmental Studies,” from 9-10:30 a.m.

For more information on the conference, a full schedule of events or to register for select conference events including Friday's play, visit:

Villanova’s commitment to the environment will continue long after the Year of Sustainability concludes. Sustainability affects all aspects of daily life at the University from the way in which our students live and the dorms they live in, to the types of foods they eat and the tools they use to eat them, to the classes they take and the classrooms in which they take them. In addition to the upcoming “Green Dorm” renovation to Fedigan Hall, the University has a number of other sustainability programs and initiatives including:

  • Green Building: Driscoll Hall, which houses the College of Nursing, is Villanova’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building, and the University’s new Law School is on track to achieve LEED certification as well. Villanova will pursue LEED Silver Certification on all new construction and major renovations.
  • Environmental Learning Community: Villanova offers freshmen the opportunity to take part in a number of learning communities, including The Environmental Leadership Learning Community. Lauded by U.S. News & World Report, these themed learning communities give students the opportunity to live with and share class experiences with members of their learning community. Through specially designed sections of their first year seminar course, Augustine and Culture, students focus on texts from the Ancient to the Modern period which raise critical perspectives on the environment.
  • Stormwater Management: The Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership was formed in 2002 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Villanova Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It is devoted to advancing the field of sustainable stormwater management and fostering the development of public and private partnerships through research on best management practices, directed studies, technology transfer and education.

For more information on Villanova’s campus-wide Commitment to Sustainability visit:

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.