New interns keep IU Bloomington sustainability program rolling

It’s hard to believe, but more than 200 IU Bloomington students have served as campus sustainability interns in the past six years, putting their mark on programs ranging from recycling and waste management to campus gardens and sustainable food to energy-conservation competitions.

The latest crop got started last week. Sixteen participants in the 2013 Summer Internship Program in Sustainability are taking part in two-hour workshops every Monday while they pursue individual projects under the guidance of faculty and staff experts. They’re reading “A Conservationist Manifesto,” by Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English Scott Russell Sanders, and using it as a framework for discussing sustainability and behavior change.

IU sustainability interns

IU sustainability interns

Director of Sustainability Bill Brown said the internship program makes IU Bloomington stand out among colleges and universities with sustainability initiatives. Interns bring boundless energy, fresh ideas and idealism to their work. Their projects are sponsored by the Office of Sustainability or by one of a half-dozen campus working groups, which rely on volunteer support by 200 faculty members, staff and students.

Sometimes the internship programs work best when they pinpoint a need and bring together resources from across the community. Did you make use of IU Bloomington E-Waste Collection Days, which just concluded a five-year run? That was an intern-created project. So was the Hoosier to Hoosier community sale, which has grown to include the City of Bloomington and several nonprofit groups. Twice-a-year campus Energy Challenges evolved this spring to participation in Campus Conservation Nationals, a nationwide competition in which IU placed near the top for water conservation.

Academic-year sustainability interns have months to do research, carry out projects and present their findings. By contrast, summer interns squeeze their work into a few weeks, but with plentiful opportunities to bond with and learn from each other.

You can follow what they’re up to on the IUOS blog, the “This Week in Sustainability” events calendar, the office Facebook page and other links from the IU Office of Sustainability site (


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