CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 2009: The first annual, entirely student-organized MIT Sustainability Summit, titled “Discovering New Dimensions for Growth,” will be held on Friday, April 24 in MIT's Walker Memorial building, as the conclusion of MIT’s Earth Week celebration.

The Sustainability Summit will bring together students, business leaders, academics, sustainability activists, and public servants for a day of invited talks, panel discussions and opportunities for informal networking on the subject of how to face the opportunities and challenges of making the transition to a sustainable world.

The theme of the summit, “Discovering New Dimensions for Growth,” explores emerging solutions to the problems of unsustainable development. Our current economic, political, and academic institutions, though highly interwoven, mainly work in isolation from each other. Students and practitioners of the field of sustainability are increasingly aware of the opportunities to collaborate to enhance their work on environmental, social, and economic endeavors. Our goals are to restore natural systems, create a just and equitable social infrastructure, and revitalize the world’s economies – an incredible challenge that requires collaboration across many previously disparate fields.

The daylong event will feature keynote addresses by sustainability leaders, including Arthur Holcombe, President of the Tibet Poverty Alleviation Fund and former Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in China, and Michael Shellenberger, President of The Breakthrough Institute. The panel discussions, by notable figures from industry, government and academia, will address three key topics in sustainability:

  • How do we progress toward sustainability in a recession?
  • How do we measure the success of our sustainability practices?
  • How do we seize opportunities for innovative approaches, technological breakthroughs, and partnerships in sustainability?
The panel speakers will be challenged to think creatively about shared problems and to generate tangible solutions. (A complete list of confirmed speakers is included at the end of this release).

The Summit will also feature “capacity-building” breakout sessions that will focus on sustainability in a variety of practical contexts, from product design to transportation and food systems.

Sponsors of the event include Whole Foods, Seventh Generation, and Green Mountain Coffee. Partners include Technology Review, CSRwire, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Net Impact, World-Wire, Sustainability Television, and the MIT Alumni Association.

The MIT Sustainability Summit is open to all, but registration is required. Please visit the website at for conference details, agenda and registration instructions. Media will receive complimentary registration.

Other MIT Earth Week events are open to the public. These include a major address by Frances Beinecke, President of the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) on April 22, and an Earth Week Fair and Eco Expo on April 23. MIT Earth Week is planned collaboratively by six departments and groups, representing the academic, staff, and student communities at MIT. Visit for more information.

Confirmed speakers for the Sustainability Summit:
  • Wayne Balta, Director of Corporate Environmental Affairs, IBM
  • Laurie Burt, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Eric Friedman, Director of the State Sustainability Program, Massachusetts Executive Offices of Environmental Affairs
  • Philip Giudice, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
  • Roberto Huet, Senior Vice President, Aggregate Industries
  • Judith Layzer, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy, MIT
  • Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
  • Daniel Mahler, Global Coordinator for Sustainability, A.T. Kearney
  • Taryn Miller-Stevens, Director of Programs, StartingBloc
  • Ted Nordhaus, Strategist, Breakthrough Institute
  • Gwen Ruta, Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Donovan Rypkema, Principal, Place Economics
  • Michael Shellenberger, President, Breakthrough Institute
  • Sarah Slaughter, Senior Lecturer, Behavioral and Policy Sciences, MIT
  • Lawrence Susskind, Director of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group, Department of Urban Studies, MIT
  • Terry Yosie, CEO, World Environment Center
MIT Sustainability Summit: Discovering New Dimensions for Growth
April 24, 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Walker Memorial (MIT building 50)
142 Memorial Drive

Website: for complete event listing, registration information, and details.