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Action for a Sustainable Future

January 31, 2022

An internship with Syracuse University’s Sustainability Management team provided hands-on experience and complimented Naomi Weinflash's majors in policy studies and citizenship and civic engagement.

When Naomi Weinflash was looking for a way to make a tangible impact on campus, she gravitated toward an internship with Syracuse University’s Sustainability Management team.

“I liked the idea that I would be doing real work in my internship that would go to help the greater good on campus,” she says. Portrait of student Naomi Weinflash holding a plant

Weinflash, a junior who is majoring in policy studies and citizenship and civic engagement major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, researched how the University can offset travel emissions produced by its vehicles, busses, vans and general fleets. “Getting to practice and apply what I learn about policy in Maxwell on a carbon pricing policy I genuinely care about in my internship with Sustainability Management is a great opportunity,” she says.

Sustainability Management’s for-credit internship program lets students pursue projects that complement their major and explore their interest in sustainability.

“No matter what your major is, sustainability plays a part in it,” says sustainability coordinator Meg Lowe G’18, who manages the growing program. “Students in our office work on real-world projects that we need help completing, and every project is useful for the betterment of Syracuse University.”

“Getting to practice and apply what I learn about policy in Maxwell on a carbon pricing policy I genuinely care about in my internship with Sustainability Management is a great opportunity.”

Naomi Weinflash ’23 B.A. (PSt, CCE)

The internship program is enhanced by Sustainability Management’s relationship with Facilities Services, which gives students opportunities to go behind the scenes in buildings and at the stadium. Past student-intern projects have focused on sourcing materials sustainably, fighting food insecurity, and marketing sustainability on campus.

Sustainability Management works with each student’s advisor to ensure the internship aligns with the student’s academic goals, and a single internship can offer the chance to become immersed in several aspects of sustainability. “Students are able to experiment with a sustainability subject they are passionate about and incorporate it into their major in a way they may not have thought possible,” Lowe says. “At the same time, we offer those who have a general interest in sustainability the opportunity to explore something new.”

Weinflash’s research focused on recent legislation that was introduced in several states to begin taxing carbon emissions. She examined how the University could implement a similar tax based on a greenhouse gas inventory that includes all travel for faculty, staff and students to and from campus. The revenue generated by this tax would go toward the purchase and planting of trees on campus.

The connections between Weinflash’s hands-on research and her coursework resonated strongly for her. “Citizenship and civic engagement are about serving a community in its own way, because each community is different,” Weinflash says. “I knew that an internship with Sustainability Management would allow me to have an impact on the Syracuse campus.”

Weinflash overcame each research obstacle she encountered during her spring 2021 internship. “The biggest challenge I faced in my research was finding a higher education institution with a carbon pricing policy in a similar climate—one that had proof of success so that I could model numbers and ideas after that policy,” she says.

She was grateful for the advice provided by Lowe and her fellow sustainability coordinator Melissa Cadwell. “We had an open communication and they guided me through all challenges,” she says. “We conversed about aspects of the policy, and they honored points that I made. They are amazing mentors.”

Weinflash is continuing her role as a student intern this fall. “We have made progress toward a carbon pricing policy, which is a really positive outcome so far,” she says. “Policy takes a long time to curate and an even longer time to implement. Every step forward on this project is a positive.”

By Shaina M. Hill

Read more at SU News.

Published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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