Last weekend I attended the first annual Interdisciplinary Sustainability Student Summit (or ISSS for short) in New York City. I had visited NYC once before with my family, but it didn’t really leave a huge impression on me. Knowing that I now would only be five hours away in Ithaca meant that I could visit one of the largest cities in the world more often. ISSS was a gathering of university students , professors and professionals for the purposes of discussing entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary collaboration as it related to sustainability. The event was hosted by the leaders of CUSD and I decided that it would be a good way to involve myself further in the club as well as get out of Ithaca for a weekend to see the rest of New York. I took a very few amount of pictures while at the event, which are shown here, but I think there’s something wrong with my camera, and I don’t know how to fix the settings. The Cornell Chronicle wrote an article about the event that also contains some pictures and CUSD’s Facebook page has an album as well. Jeremy Blum, one of the leaders of CUSD also has a few pictures on his personal website.
Because of the ridiculously snowy weather (Snow in NYC in October?!) and the fact that this was the first ISSS, the showing was small, but still permeated with an atmosphere of innovation and collaboration. I have actually never attended a summit such as this, and I am pretty sure I was the youngest one there (being the only freshman). The Summit was held at the General Assembly in the NYC Flatiron District – a hub for technological start-ups in the area with wood flooring and a very modern layout reflecting today’s young professional generation.
I arrived with three others around 9 a.m. and was met with the rest of the volunteers and heads of CUSD. In preparation for the event, we started folding a ridiculous amount of programs, rearranged furniture and set up tables, chairs, posters and easels. You would think that folding wouln’t be a very difficult job, but trying to fold high-quality glossy sheets (I don’t know what the technical term is called, forgive me) perfectly in such a way that the corners would match up with confident creases and flat folds can require more concentration than bargained for. Any mistake is pretty evident and as we wanted to show professionalism, any mis-folded programs were quickly removed from the pile.
People started trickling in at around 11 a.m. and networking and poster presentations progressed for another thirty minutes or so until we all sat down to listen to the keynote presenter, Ilana Judah – an architect at FxFowle Architects – speak about sustainability not just in terms of architecture, but in various other disciplines such as engineering and business. Breakout sessions and panel discussions followed, which featured professionals from a variety of companies, leaders of sustainable initiatives and start-ups from nearby universities and a few Cornell Alumni. All in all, it was a great experience and introduction to conventions and summits for me, and I think the ISSS went very well for its first showing. Other universities are already collaborating with CUSD in preparation for another summit next year which hopefully will attract more attendees in the name of interdisciplinary collaboration. A weekend well spent.