As part of its commitment to serving the Penn State community and the growing demand and opportunity for incorporating sustainability into all aspects of university life, the Sustainability Institute is growing this year. Our mission is to facilitate all aspects of sustainability—reflecting the full range of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals—at all 23 university campuses in all aspects of scholarship, teaching, operations, and community outreach. Needless to say, that’s a tall order! Fortunately, we’re adding new faces to our team to help us accomplish this mission. We invite you to meet two of our newest members!
Meet Peter Boger, the Assistant Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. He first became interested in sustainability when he was a kid and the book 50 Simple Things You Can to Do to Save the Planet came out. His fear was that no one would keep doing those things after they read the book, so he determined to do them himself, setting him on a path to study environmental studies as an adult.
But as he soon realized: “Turning off one light is not enough. Solutions start with individual action, but they become effective only when embedded in the fabric of the larger community.” He believes in order for the world to be sustainable and develop new ways to be sustainable, we all have to feel an ethic of community belonging and responsibility.
He has been focusing on building that community ever since. Boger first programmed and then directed the Tales from Planet Earth Environmental Film Festival at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the last nine years while earning his master’s and doctorate in environmental studies. His festival used narratives to bring together students, researchers, the public, non-profits and storytellers to address major environmental problems.
“Issues don’t move people, stories do,” Boger says. He hopes to take this approach to building awareness and engagement about sustainability at Penn State. Boger is eager to help create and facilitate events—like the new Intersections: Landscapes of Labor film series—that draw together the community, on and off campus. With the understanding that Penn State students come from all over the world, Boger wants students to feel like they are a part of a broader community than just their school “We are more than just Penn State,” says Boger. “We are State College; we are Harrisburg; we are New Kensington; we are Brandywine; We are Pennsylvania, etc.”
Meet Meghan Hoskins, the Director of Operations and Partnerships at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. She has a lot of love for Penn State, where she has earned all three of her engineering degrees. She especially appreciates the area’s beautiful environment and amazing opportunities.
“I keep saying I’m going to leave Penn State and every time I look around, I always find what I want here,“ Hoskins admits. Whether that’s support for more biking—a campus program helped convert her bike into an e-bike, assisting her in her regular 12-mile roundtrip biking commute to work—or enthusiasm for a global tree-planting program she and her children introduced at local schools, Hoskins always appreciates the many opportunities the area has to offer.
Indeed, Hoskins notes that her children are a big part of her motivation for focusing on sustainability. She tries to teach them that humans are part of nature, not separate from it. “We are a part of the world and we need to try and conserve the whole system, so that we can live on the Earth for as long as we want,” she says.
That philosophy extends to how she wants to conduct her new role in bringing sustainability to Penn State’s operations. Hoskins’s plan is to build more connections between Penn State’s operations and student activities and coursework—fostering living lab research and engagement opportunities—like the new partnership with the NFL Environmental Program—that teach students about the larger systems in which they and the campus are embedded. “Sustainability affects students’ lives in more ways than they know, and I want to help open those doors into awareness and research,” Hoskins concludes.