Gwen Appelbaum and Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah

Gwen Appelbaum

Gwen Appelbaum, assistant dean and director of career resource center, school of management

What kinds of sustainability related research/projects are you pursuing at UB?

This semester, my colleague – Dr. Dorothy Siaw-Asamoah – and I taught an Impact Seminar in Community Leadership for UB School of Management.  One of our themes for the course was Sustainability, and we had a student team project that centered around addressing key issues facing the Western New York community’s sustainability efforts.  The project culminated in a presentation for community guests, spanning local non-profit and sustainability focused engineering organizations, as well as UB Renew Institute.  The goal was to expand students’ perspectives on the problems facing our community – both within UB and across the region – in order to better understand how to develop innovative solutions. Additionally, we asked students to consider how the focus on sustainability also related to the other themes of the course – economic development and social justice.  To me, this was one of the biggest take-aways, an opportunity to understand the many layers of impact that societal problems have on the community. 

How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?

During the course, our students identified key areas of improvement for UB’s sustainability efforts, including waste disposal methods, recycling accessibility, and motivating the community to be sustainability-minded.  Motivational issues are probably the hardest to address – incentivizing individuals to change consumption and behavior patterns is challenging universally, but our UB community is a great place to start.  UB’s Sustainability Office is doing wonderful work, and I look forward to seeing more project teams adding to their efforts across disciplines – whether engineering, sciences, management, the arts and beyond – we all have opportunities to explore social innovation for the benefit of sustainability.

What is the one thing that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?

I wish I could say I am a role model for sustainability, but like most people, I am doing the best I can to learn to be respectful of my environment and of those who are living in it now and for many generations to come.  Personally, I try to live my life with the belief that one person does make a difference…so even when our students in the class report on daunting waste levels, I try not to let it deter me from being vigilant at home about recycling!

Regarding sustainability, what do you believe is the most pressing issue in our world today?

Simply put, we need leadership.  Of course, it’s an answer you would expect from the School of Management, but meaningful progress regarding sustainability can’t be made without global vision, strategy and commitment – from both the public and private sectors.