Hollins University students immersed themselves in learning about the obstacles Virginia faces in reducing CO2 emissions during the VA Power Dialog on April 8.
Hollins was among the twelve Virginia colleges and universities that participated in the event, which took place at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond.
Nine students from Associate Professor of Economics Pablo Hernandez’s Economics and the Environment course engaged in conversation and contributed to an interactive poster session. Hernandez is part of the fifteen-member team that planned the VA Power Dialog, part of a larger national effort aimed at helping college students from across the U.S. learn of individual state challenges in complying with the proposed federal Clean Power Plan.
“Several of us used this time to convey that climate change is the biggest issue in our lifetimes,” said Diana Kevorkian ’16. “The Power Dialog is an excellent way for the voice of young adults to be heard. It is very important for us to continue the conversation if policy regarding sustainability is going to change.”
Kevorkian was dismayed to learn of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s difficulty in “bridging the gap between politics and scientific research. One of the struggles is gaining legislative agreement on methods of sustainability that are both feasible and economical.” However, she added she was impressed by the initiatives the Governor’s Office is attempting to put into place. “Angela Navarro [the commonwealth’s deputy secretary of natural resources] pointed out that change must happen and it is happening, such as with a motion to increase solar energy in Virginia.”
Husnia Alokozai ’16 said she was “particularly encouraged to learn more about the possibility of an energy economy through which supply meets demand. At the same same time, production and consumption activities are shifted toward a low-carbon emission cycle using technologies and alternative energy sources and relying on effective net energy metering.”
The enthusiastic involvement of so many of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities in the VA Power Dialog is a catalyst for students such as Lan Nguyen ’18. She said it’s motivated her “to further my education concerning environmental issues and become more active in present and future climate movements.
“The Power Dialog provides a model for colleges such as Hollins to expand the momentum in communicating the science behind climate change and the importance of strengthening networks among colleges at the state and national level.”