This year marks the fifth MIT Sustainability Summit, an annual event that has grown to include nearly 300 professionals, academics, and students. This year’s Summit has the theme of “empowering action” on multiple scales. This reflects the urgency of innovation, leadership, and change at numerous scales, from the individual to the firm and from the city to the world, in the pursuit of global sustainability. It also reflects the fact that most sustainability interventions are scale-specific. Actions that can effectively make progress at one scale are impractical or impossible at another.
As one of the world’s preeminent research universities, MIT and its five schools — science, engineering, architecture and planning, humanities and social science, and management — are in a unique position to bring business and societal leaders together with academic researchers and students to address challenges in sustainability. Jason Jay, Director of the MIT Sloan Initiative for Sustainable Business and Society, says that “MIT is a place that understands and creates the future. The Sustainability Summit is a unique chance to take part in that effort, to see what is over the horizon – the environmental, social, and economic challenges of the coming years, and the innovations they will drive in businesses and communities around the globe.”
We intend for our attendees to leave feeling empowered to take action towards a sustainable future, either in their existing personal or professional context or in a new one. This is the motivation for showcasing a breadth of domains of action as well as offering deep dives. We hope that germs of company, product, or project ideas spring from the panel and workshop sessions, and new communities of action emerge out of the formal and informal conversations over the weekend.
We invite you to join us at the 2013 MIT Sustainability Summit.
This year’s Summit will be held over two days. Saturday will feature three keynote speeches and 10 breakout panels loosely organized into thematic clusters of “sustainable consumption,” “innovations in urban planning,” and “environmentally & socially responsible decision-making.”
Rick Ridgeway, Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia, will deliver the featured morning keynote. He will speak on Patagonia’s leadership in green product development in apparel. His keynote will be preceded by an introductory keynote from John Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Katherine Gajewski, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability at the City of Philadelphia, will deliver the featured afternoon keynote. She will speak about her work implementing Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan that has garnered national and international attention. Saturday will close with a dinner featuring acclaimed glacier photographer, James Balog, who will speak about his work capturing glacial retreat on film.
In line with our desire to “empower action” as well as MIT's motto of Mens et Manus (mind and hand), Sunday will feature a set of design charettes that offer Summit participants hands-on learning. In the spirit of MIT's hacking culture, these day long charettes will engage Summit participants and other MIT students to solve various problems raised during day 1 through new product designs, software tools, campaigns, business ideas, and organizational models.