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Campus Celebrity: Josh Stoffel

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.
You may have noticed a new development in South Campus called Steel House or heard that Conn has recently been recognized as a leader in protecting natural resources; these accomplishments could not have been made possible without the work of Josh Stoffel, the Manager of Sustainability here at the college! We are proud to have Josh as this week’s Campus Celebrity! 
Education: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Bachelors of Science in Environmental Sciences; University of Massachusetts Amherst, Master’s of Education with a concentration in Integrating Sustainability into Higher Education
Hometown: Franklin, MA
Office location: Newly opened Office of Sustainability, located in the historically preserved Steel House (in South Campus) 
When did you become interested in sustainability?
My interest in sustainability grew out of my interest in the environment, which I have had since I was very young. My grandfather used to walk me through the woods and tell me about how everything was interconnected. Ever since then, I have been trying to learn how everything in our world is connected and how to sustain all of its parts (social/human, environmental, economic). While getting my undergraduate degree, I was very involved at my institution with regard to promoting environmentally conscious practices. During that experience, I quickly realized how environmental concerns always took a backseat to social and economic concerns. When I learned about how sustainability is the effort to balance the needs and values of social equity, environmental stewardship and economic well being, I knew I was on to something really important. 
How do you feel as the first manager of sustainability at Conn? 
I feel awesome! I have a unique opportunity to help the College develop a holistic approach to sustainability, which will connect some of the great programs and initiatives that already existed before I arrived. To me, sustainability is all about helping people understand how everything is interconnected and how to use that knowledge to develop solutions to existing challenges that don’t create other problems down the road. All too often, “solutions” to a systemic problem are developed, only to cause problems with related issues after implementation. Sustainability helps people take a systems thinking approach to problem solving, so that the solutions they create do no negatively impact human health and equity, the environment or the economy.

What are the most effective/successful methods of incorporating sustainability practices at a college level?
Supporting students to take an idea all the way through to implementation and assessment. Student leadership is the defining component of the College’s commitment to sustainability. Having students involved in virtually every sustainability project and program allows for their passion and energy to take initiatives to entirely new levels and it gives students the opportunity to use the campus as a living laboratory –meaning that they get to use what they are learning in the classroom on tangible projects here on campus.

What has been the biggest struggle about integrating sustainability at Connecticut College?
The biggest struggle has been the lack of understanding about what sustainability really is and how it is relevant to everyone’s interests, regardless of what they are. Most people believe the misnomer that sustainability is just another word for environmental stewardship. Though it is true that the concept of sustainability grew out of the previous generation’s environmental movement, there are many distinct differences. Sustainability is all about finding holistic solutions to systemic problems that are currently facing our global society – holistic solutions that balance the needs and values of social equity, economic well being AND environmental stewardship. Sustainability is really meant to be the connective tissue that helps people understand how developing long-lasting solutions to any problem requires us to balance social, economic and environmental considerations. Gone are the days when we can just look at an economic problem and completely ignore the social and environmental impacts of any proposed “solution.”

How has sustainability expanded/grown in the last two years at Conn?
The College’s commitment to sustainability has exploded over the last two years! We have expanded and solidify existing projects (the Sprout Garden, Composting Program) and we have begun to develop innovative projects that will develop collaborations between departments/centers that do not usually work closely together (integrating sustainability throughout the curriculum, local community collaborations, international cooperation and sustainability). The biggest reason for all of the growth over the last two years is due to the large number of students who have committed endless time and energy into designing and implementing a wide variety of sustainability projects on campus.

What are your long term goals for Conn and sustainability?
My long-term goals for sustainability at Conn is to continue developing collaborations with as many departments on campus and with many more community organizations. Through these collaborations, I hope that the College can emulate its commitment to holistic sustainability while incorporating it into the curriculum and extra curricular activities available on campus. I would also like to see the College become a strong community by generating more of its own resources (establish a farm, renewable energy, harvest rainwater, etc) and by becoming a more accepting of everyone in our community regardless of how they differ from yourself. These two efforts would greatly enhance the educational opportunities available to students at the College and would help reduce the cost of that education.

Why target colleges/universities?
Colleges and universities are places where students are coming to learn, both in and outside of the classroom. I believe the true advancements in the sustainability of our communities can and should start within colleges and universities. In college, students are asked not only to learn knowledge that already exists, but to also develop knowledge. Specifically to try and develop new and long-lasting solutions to systemic problems – which is the definition of sustainability. Just as importantly, the passion and vigor that students have for solving global problems energizes me everyday to work as hard as I can to support them in their effort. This is what I see as the most important (and best) part of my job.

On another note…We’ve noticed you love to wear suspenders! Any reason? How many pairs do you own?
About my suspenders… I own five pairs of suspenders, all different colors – a pair to match every dress shirt I own. I first started wearing suspenders years ago out of necessity. After awhile, they became part of my professional persona and now I think they are here to stay. 


I am a sophomore at Conn Coll, and am from Maine (I've lived there my whole life). I love to dance, sing, draw/paint, and just have fun! I have an obsession with grapefruit and bacon egg and cheeses. I also love lipstick and nail polish (and am currently trying to add on to my array of colors). Basically, I am just a 19-year-old girl who is trying to make the most of her four years at Conn by indulging in what makes her happy. 
I am a junior and a Campus Correspondent for Connecticut College! I am majoring in American Studies and a PICA scholar. I was a High School Ambassador for HerCampus in 2010-2011 and a contibuting writer 2011-2012. I love writing, editing, and social media. This fall, I am a Student Coordinator for the Women's Center, a photographer for College Relations, and am also a member of SafetyNet. When I'm not writing, I love being outside and enjoy many many different types of music. I also enjoy shopping at the Container Store, sharpie markers, thunderstorms, onesies, Gilmore Girls, The Newsroom, New Girl, 60 Minutes, and The West Wing.