University Honors College - The Honorable mention

New Honors Seminar For Upperclassmen! HON 214: Building Sustainable & Resilient Communities

Posted by Tim on June 17, 2014 in Academics, Honors Experiences, Honors Seminars, Networking

HON214  SUS: Building Sustainable & Resilient Communities

Fall 2014
Tuesday from 3:00 pm to 5:40 pm
537 Capen Hall
Ryan A. McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer
520 Capen Hall;

Please email Tim Matthews to be enrolled in this course at:

Course Description:

Sustainability. The word itself brings up images of permanence, endurance, strength and resilience. These are the characteristics we all want for ourselves, the University, our community and the planet.  Indeed, long-term success and positive change depends largely on near-term decisions. The critical choices we make today must be shaped by economic efficiency, environmental resources and their thoughtful management, and empowerment of ourselves as students, faculty, staff and community.  In doing this we strive to evolve, build resilience and create a better tomorrow.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities gives our students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working on relevant real world issues under the close supervision of UB’s Chief Sustainability Officer and community partners. This course enables students to expand their expertise in those matters that are relevant beyond the borders of the campus, while fostering campus-community professional and academic networks.  Students from a variety of disciplines will collaborate on a joint community project cutting across issue areas and will analyze a problem and its causes, listen to and understand community needs, embrace and respect differing views, identify sustainable solutions, craft implementation strategies and, at times, engage in carrying out the proposal.  Clients will be either government at the municipal, state, and local levels or non-profit organizations.  Specific partner clients include The Western New York Environmental Alliance, The City of Buffalo, Buffalo-Niagara RIVERKEEPER, Erie County, the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable, PUSH Buffalo, The Clean Air Coalition, Massachusetts Avenue Project, Go Bike Buffalo and many others.  Subject areas include, but are not limited to, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, sustainable transportation, water protection, urban agriculture/aquaculture, green infrastructure, sustainable development and environmental justice.

The goals of the course are to give students the competencies in entrepreneurship, project management, and stakeholder engagement that are required to develop and implement sustainable solutions to real-world environmental problems. The course helps students think creatively while catalyzing positive environmental and social impact in a broader community.

About the Instructor:

In September of 2011, Mr. McPherson was named the University at Buffalo’s first Chief Sustainability Officer.  In his role as the CSO, Ryan connects people across the university with information, innovation, and tools to reduce UB’s footprint on the future and enhance quality of life by improving environmental stewardship, increasing economic efficiency and augmenting cultural values and awareness.  He specifically works closely with university partners and employs an integrated campus-wide strategy that leverages the university’s operations, curriculum, external engagement and research to further UB’s sustainability efforts.

Prior to taking on this new role, Ryan was the Associate Vice President for Government & Community Relations where he successfully led a multi-year New York State effort that resulted in the enactment of the most comprehensive higher education legislation in a generation.  Before leading the university’s advocacy efforts, Mr. McPherson was the Chief of Staff for the External Affairs Division and was responsible for day-to-day operational leadership.

In addition, he also played a pivotal role in creating the President’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, the university’s Climate Action Plan in driving a university wide approach to sustainability as well as establishing the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable and currently chairs the Western New York Environmental Alliance.  Previous to joining UB, Ryan worked in Washington, DC and New Hampshire advocating for greater environmental protection and democratic participation.

Mr. McPherson received his B.A. in political science from the University of New Hampshire and graduated magna cum laude from the University at Buffalo Law School with a concentration in environmental law.  He and his wife Alexandra have an 11-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son and live on their farm in East Aurora, NY.