Sustainability Conference ignites conversations about environmentalism in Northwest universities

Haley Stark, News Reporter

Bringing awareness to environmental efforts across Pacific Northwest universities, the Washington Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference will be hosted by the Oregon State University Sustainability Office this year for the first time since 2011.

Taking place from March 6-8, the three day conference features many activities around campus, including self-guided tours, keynote addresses from sustainability experts and OSU President Jayathi Murthy, and the Student Sustainability Action Challenge, where groups of students pitch environmental solutions to compete for a grand prize of $500.  

OSU Sustainability Officer Brandon Trelstad, who helped found WOHESC in 2008 and has attended every subsequent event, explains why this year’s speakers make the conference especially exciting for him.

“Kathleen Dean Moore is an OSU author who talks about the moral obligations of climate change, or in addressing it, because it’s a moral and ethical issue,” Trelstad said. “And then the other plenary on Wednesday will include David Harrelson from the Grand Ronde Tribes, and he’ll be talking about indigenous placekeeping.”

As Trelstad mentioned, Kathleen Moore is a renowned writer and distinguished professor of philosophy at OSU who, in her own words, studies “the moral urgency of climate action.” 

In her debut WOHESC keynote talk titled “Change Like a River,” she plans to address how people must learn to react as “civilization is barreling toward geophysical tipping points that will change the planet forever.” 

Moore aims for her audience of over 500 people to take a different look at our current climate situation after the speech.

“My hope is that my listeners will think, hey, I never thought of it quite this way,” Moore said. “We are living in a rip-roaring choose-your-own-adventure story. It’s a page turner, for sure, but the plot line depends on us. The Earth is our great teacher. It is crying out in the languages of storm and flood, offering us the tools and strategies for rapid change.”

WOHESC is open for all to attend, but prices vary based on conference modality and affiliation with OSU. A full list of registration prices is available on the organization’s website at:


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