Amy Hitch, a graduate student in the Environmental Policy Design Program, recently attended the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability (INSS) annual symposium and conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was the sixth annual conference in conjunction with the Charlotte Sustainability Summit and it was designed to encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and exloration of sustainability as a disciplinary bridge. The overall theme of the conference was Localizing Sustainability: Local Challenges, Local Champions.
The pre-conference held prior to the start of the summit gave a collection of 20 students from around the world the chance to present research showcasing how social sustainability is a required, and often overlooked, element of long term sustainable solutions. The research Amy presented focused on how climate change solutions require equitable solutions that stem from social relationships and community engagement. Through Amy's experience at the summit, she had the opportunity to learn from a wide array of other researchers that included anthropologists, social scientists, public policymakers, and urban planners. These interactions offered insight into the interdisciplinary strategies required to implement sustainable solutions, particularity those that involve climate change.
If we are to implement socially sustainable solutions, conversations need to emerge within the community, and this is exactly what the Sustainability Summit gave individuals the opportunity to do. If Charlotte can begin to implement these socially sound solutions, it will build a foundation that can guide others in the future. It is therefore possible for Lehigh University and the City of Bethlehem to also employ socially sustainable solutions for both a just and greener future.