Visions of a Sustainable Future

The 11th annual Iowa State University Symposium on Sustainability will be held Feb. 24-25, 2020 at Iowa State University's Memorial Union.

Iowa State University's Live Green! Initiative provides a call to action to all students, faculty, and staff to be fully committed and engaged in ensuring our next sustainable decade. Through our actions and decisions regarding our campus, its operations and initiatives we can make efforts to support our next sustainable decade.

Symposium Overview

The 2020 Symposium on Sustainability celebrates the diversity of sustainability efforts and initiatives taking place within our campus community focusing on supporting and nurturing enablement and empowerment toward a sustainable future that extends into the Ames community, as well as communities across the state and throughout the world. Features of this year’s event are a sustainability poster session and tabling reception, a keynote lecture by Erin Brockovich, and the presentation of the 2019 Live Green! Awards for Excellence in Sustainability.



Keynote Lecture: Erin Brockovich 


Say the name Erin Brockovich and you think, strong, tough and stubborn. Erin is all that and definitely
more. She is a modern-day “David” who loves a good brawl with today’s “Goliaths”. She thrives on
being the voice for those who don’t know how to yell. She is a rebel. She is a fighter. She is a mother.
She is a woman. She is you and me.

It’s been over 15 years since Julia Roberts starred in the Oscar-winning tour de force, Erin Brockovich.
The film turned an unknown legal researcher into a 20th-century icon by showcasing how her dogged
persistence was the impelling force behind the largest medical settlement lawsuit in history. Since then,
Erin hasn’t been resting on her laurels…she continues to fight hard and win big!

This gutsy broad doesn’t apologize for who she is. She has always loved going head to head with the big
boys and was never intimated by their bravado. She learned how to come out on top from her tight-knit
mid-western family in Lawrence, Kansas. Erin was the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and
journalist mother. Her parents always believed that she could do anything she set her mind to if she
learned to focus her amazing energy.

After a few years of roaming around at various colleges, Erin decided that she wanted to be a California
girl. She first landed a job as a management trainee for K-Mart, but when that didn’t make her swagger,
she decided to study electrical engineering. But that wasn’t enough for the Kansas beauty. On a fluke,
she entered the Miss Pacific Coast beauty pageant, and, not surprisingly, won the title. When she
realized that beauty pageants weren’t her thing, Erin, her husband, and her two children settled in Reno,
Nevada. After divorcing, the single mother became a secretary at a brokerage firm where she met and
married her second husband. But that marriage was short-lived, and the now mother of three was solo again.

Up until this point, Erin was the average divorced single mother trying to make a living, until she crossed
paths with the lawyer, Ed Masry, and this meeting changed the course of both of their lives.

After being seriously injured in a traffic accident in Reno, Erin moved back to California’s San Fernando
Valley and hired Masry & Vititoe to represent her. They won a small settlement, but she still needed
work, so she got a job at the law firm as a file clerk. It was while organizing papers on a pro bono real
estate case that Erin first found medical records that would explode into the largest direct-action lawsuit
in US history.

Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town
of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG&E had now
been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the groundwater. This poison affected the health of the
population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct-action lawsuit of its kind, spearheaded by
Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US
history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.

The story and eventual film made “Erin Brockovich” a household name. Over time, Erin realized that she
could use her notoriety to spread positive messages of personal empowerment and to encourage others
to stand up and make a difference.

Erin Brockovich has conquered all forms of media. Her first TV project was ABC’s 2001 Special,
Challenge America With Erin Brockovich, where she helped motivate and organize the rebuilding of a
dilapidated park in downtown Manhattan. This show is best described as “Extreme Make-Over Home
Edition on steroids”. For three seasons, Erin hosted the Lifetime series, Final Justice With Erin
Brockovich. The show celebrated everyday women who triumphed when faced with overwhelming adversity.

Erin then dominated the world of publishing with her New York Times Business Bestseller, Take It From
Me: Life’s A Struggle, But You Can Win. She has also written two fiction novels, Rock Bottom and Hot Water.

Because of her fighting spirit, Erin has become the champion of countless women and men. She is this
generation’s “Dear Abby”, and in fact receives thousands of “Dear Erin” letters and emails each year
from people who are begging for help and support in their own personal struggles. Erin proudly answers
every one of them.

As President of Brockovich Research & Consulting, she is currently involved in numerous environmental
projects worldwide. She has requests for her help in groundwater contamination complaints in every
state of the US, Australia, and other international hot spots. She is currently working on cases in
California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri.

Erin is one of the most requested speakers on the international lecture circuit and travels the world for
personal appearances. She is a true American hero whose icon status and “stick-to-it-iveness” only fuels
her determination to expose injustice and lend her voice to those who do not have one.


Sustainability Poster and Tabling Reception

    Poster abstracts and tabling displays are encouraged from all campus activities and projects including research, administration, operations, student/student organizations, community and personal initiatives that support and further sustainability and the Live Green! Initiative. A Sustainability Poster session and tabling reception provide an excellent venue to discuss and exchange of scientific information.

    Posters are invited and encouraged from the following areas:

    • Alternative/Renewable Energy Sources
    • Arts and Culture
    • Biodiversity
    • Energy Efficiency & Resource Conservation
    • Food Systems
    • Green Design & Products
    • Green Transportation
    • Social Engineering/Behavioral Change
    • Sustainable Community Planning
    • Sustainable Materials
    • Toxic Reductions
    • Waste Management, Diversion, and Reduction
    • Water Quality/Flood Management

    Live Green! Awards for Excellence in Sustainability

    The Live Green! Excellence Awards recognize Iowa State University students, faculty and staff who are making an impact on the campus sustainability efforts by generating awareness and interest through initiatives that focus on teaching, research, outreach and/or operations.

    All nominations are evaluated based on their impacts in the following areas: Cultural Impact, Impact on Natural Resources, Economic Impact, Transferability, Legacy to the Live Green Initiative and Sustainability. For more information on the specific focus of interest within each of these areas, refer to the Live Green Award for Excellence in Sustainability Selection Criteria document.

    Excellence in areas or initiatives related to sustainability that are applicable to the nomination for the Live Green! Award could include (but are not limited to) the following:

    • Teaching: expanding and diversifying sustainability awareness and education through efforts and achievements related to a course, curriculum or program.
    • Research: expanding and diversifying sustainability understanding and discovery through efforts and achievements.
    • Outreach: expanding and diversifying sustainability relevance and transferability through efforts and achievements to internal and/or external audiences at Iowa State, Ames and/or local communities.
    • Operations: expanding and diversifying sustainable practices and procedures as related to the day-to-day operational management and maintenance of Iowa State University. 

    Symposium Archives