JEREMY WEGENER: My name is Jeremy Wegener. And today I'm going to talk to you about something I feel pretty passionately about. So what's the biggest issue we have going on in this day and age? Is it dealing with diplomatic relations in North Korea? Is it climate change? Is it something else? You know, the answer is, I don't really know. But I do know something. All of these issues, every single social justice group needs community engagement. Without it, progress will not change. We will not move forward.
This summer I had the privilege of working with the Cornell Sustainability Office. And that is exactly what I got to do. I got to look at how we can take community engagement and advance schools here at Cornell to become a carbon neutral campus. Now I guess some of the important things we really think about is why does engagement matter. How can one little micro change translate to something so macro? Most people think it's not feasible. It's not doable. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter.
But a new aggregate study of data coming from MIT, EPA, Columbia, and several other world renowned institutions says otherwise. Within the lens of climate change, if we just have as little as 10% of communities being engaged we can reduce over 30% of America's carbon footprint, something that you would think would be infeasible. So doing this, there was a lot to look at. How can we start here at Cornell? And how can we be that leaders for this very change?
McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y tells us that there are two types of people in this world. And while his theories mostly stem from human resources, every one is an employee, everyone has a job. You have an opportunity to recycle. You can throw something out. You make a decision every day. In theory Y people are our favorite type of people. They're self-motivated. They like to get out there and do things. And they will go out and do those things like recycle on their own. But the Theory X people are an alarming large number of people, especially in our generation.
A famous study coming from UC Davis tells us in the general election in 2014, only 8.2% of young people ages 18 to 24 came out to vote. How are we going to change this? One of the solutions I had was developing something that was convenient, passive, and intuitive for people to use. Cornell, it's no secret that we have a ton of sustainable infrastructure on campus, from sustainable centers and institutes including the Atkinson Center to numerous water bottle fill up applications, eliminating the usage of plastic water bottles to transportation options like Big Red Bikes where you can rent bikes, and everything in between.
But the fact is, most people don't know about this. Most people don't use it. And how on Earth can you possibly find all this information in one place? Well, that's exactly what this whole design was meant to do. Over the summer, after much research, I decided to make one full encompassing map that will continuously grow throughout the years at Cornell that will house all this information. With working from every single department across campus and university programmers, we were able to accomplish this. This way, when you want to look for anything sustainable whatsoever, you can find it in one place.
But that wasn't exactly enough. Having this information is great. But what makes a Theory X person want to use it? They're not going to go out and look for sustainable infrastructure. But what if we made it so that you could do it on your daily route, that you could sit there and look building by building, know where I go to class, know where I go to work, know where I walk on my daily route, and know where the things are. And then we integrated that.
So then when you want to what-- let's say you have to go visit Fernald Hall for example. Well, you can find out, OK, I can bring my water bottle that day. I can fill it up. Huh, I didn't know that there was a sustainable center and institute there. And wow, they have rooftop solar. How would I know that? Well, now you do.
And what was even further is expanding this on to other places that people would be able to reach it. I'm sure everyone has heard of Cornell maps. When you first come on campus, you're fumbling around, you're looking for things, and you are just begging to find some take a map to figure out where your classes are. In doing this, you somehow stumble upon this. So what we did is we worked with university programmers, we spend numerous hours to make sure integration was seamless and maintained so that while you are looking for Greek houses or TCAT bus stops, you can also find out, we have Ithaca car share. What's that? And you can click on it and learn more about it. You can find out that we have Big Red Bikes, figure out with the rates are. And you can find everything in between. This helps captivate Theory X people. Make it convenient.
Lastly, we started bringing it into the classroom with Living Lab. Meet Clifford Kraft, our first professor to bring on sustainable maps into his curriculum. On the first day of classes, Clifford incorporated our maps into an assignment. Students were sent out, had to find sustainable infrastructure, learn about it and write reports on it. It was being mandated into their curriculum. At Cornell, we will find ways to find that 10%. We will reduce 30% of carbon emissions. And we will be sustainable leaders. Thank you.
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Jeremy Wegener presents on the Office of Campus Sustainability, Ithaca, NY, as part of a series of TED Talks for COMM 3080, "Capstone Course in Environmental & Sustainability Communication: From the Lab to the World."