5/12: Karen Magid, Huston-Tillotson University

Texas Energy Lab
Saturday, May 12th

Dr. Karen Magid, Director of Sustainability and STEM at Huston-Tillotson University and the Co-Executive Director of The Dumpster Project, talks to hosts Kyle Frazier and Sherren Harter about sustainability, environmental justice, and the power of student engagement.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Hello and welcome to the Texas energy lab on Austin's top thirteen seven neat. Covering stint ability and innovation across the lone star state proxy by freedom solar. African solar power dot com as we can find out more information about our title sponsor. I'm your host Kyle Frazier here in the studio where is our gas to will be introduced here momentarily. I share my cohost Sharon how are you and and q.s a follow we're talking about tonight. Eight Q Kyle I'm in love thanks Harry I'm I'm doing I'm doing better then then another hour here we've got a good company. Yes beautiful day for beautiful Saturday afternoon. Evening yet we are excited to be here today with a very special guest we've got Karen I kid from the he Houston Tillotson university she's the director of sustainability and stand. And here in Austin taxes and she's also the co executive director of Saddam's your project which I'm hoping we can talk a little bit about. A little bit later in the show and and also I mean picking up extracurricular activities we we heard from Britain for the show they also have a summer program that's coming up with middle schoolers. Andy you're working tentative guide and developing the next generation which is exciting. And I'm sure stressed both sides welcome to show its good to see you. I think so much for having him I don't have it is it true that Houston Tillotson is the oldest university in Texas obsolete region really has attacked her death factoid and I thought that that's incredible you would think university of taxes or some of these other it's like right here in Austin and it's this little university it's tucked just east at 35 you're selling a lot of 144 years following him. While historically black liberal arts college in the exact all the sept. Visitation of higher learning an honest and up on we run until. Very cool concept. Also worthy birthday. Event was held and that I guess the last two years exactly any changes in a couple of years ago really weird. It's the best to be hosting that as well let's try the best venue for it to having been to several of these things myself self. Little drama this year with the weather they have that we geyser you know number we recovered and were able to get everybody there actually are in this stage show launched and re right around Earth Day so we have had the weather. I'm Rhonda Rutledge was here for is in office Tarantino recycling and consumer panel there. We know yes a guy having Palestine and it pulled together but it was. Just adds an attic this year it's it it went really well yeah I mean I. Think and continuing to Harrison have been banged grow into being able to bring that many people on campus. And and it aligns perfectly with I know them suffer gonna get into with our sustainability priorities on campus since it's really the the perfect event stressed he had just so. So tell us how did you end up dead at HTU what was her kind of path way to getting into the sustainability there pack back. And I say do not have it. The traditional pack even though I'm sustainability is a relatively new field Saturn there's not so many traditional paths into the mine especially. His I've taken some twists and turns. And it's there might be some passion is tied ended up here I. Have a scientific and engineering background and training. And at my Ph.D. in material science and engineering and ended a post document in the field but decided that. Feel laboratory is. And so you know there's people that could be we need that work being done it just wasn't for me to be out in the laboratory for the rest of my career envisioning that I wanted. Lamar social impact. Because I was in very basic. Physics its resurgence of the few bright with applications from China that's a particular real world leverage analysts yeah exactly so so I worked for a couple of years since a transition my career actually I would sue at peace corps. Volunteer service sort of mid career. It's an interesting way to shift and it it works because I was very motivated and so. Use my skills I mean that's the wonderful thing about education. He developed skills that you can then use in in a variety of fields. And having technical background I've been to understand and pick up the technical aspects of sustainability fairly well also because it is my. Passion working for the environment and uh huh institution of higher learning education mission it all is really really had a beautiful combination for me. So ended up in Austin. That is in Geneva named captain that's how I ended appease terrorists and yet. And I age landed in Austin about five years ago because I needed a place to land in the US after being overseas for about five years. And my data been here for like years and size like let's get hostage try. And it took me about a year to actually find their way to Houston to listen but I was brought on board for sustainability initiatives and some science initiatives in the dancer project so. On my back on actually worked advantageous safer I mean university and town and then there ever since about four and a half years and how cool. Great and what are what are so even severe that they get initiatives fairly quiet it was a dancer critics and even doing from different from the beginning there that was a project is one of the things that's been going on since the beginning after four years now and and the there's number of others so I'm the co advisor for our environmental student group green is the new black and that's also been going on since I've been there. And I am in the sustainability initiatives have just grown and having a dedicated sustainability staff is is somewhat unusual for a school of this eyes and I mean not our universities have a sustainability apartment let alone when that has just over 11100 students. And so I've been fortunate to be able to use you know sort of come buying academics with. Operations and the a lot of the what I do then sustainability an operations side we can involve students in and or engage them on and and so those are the types of ways that. And so one of the prime what you tell tell us about the green is the new black is that the that's left front page on local publication and I and those are really big deal and and so I guess tell us what that is and then you know what what's the purpose of that movement. Yeah as soon decreasing black student group it's it's really. Some interesting and then parallels. How we approach sustainability seasons let's use interns who university its. A group of students who are really motivated and passionate about and their mission statement is. I. SCANA of course Freddie when he sees an ever gonna forget right now Israel anti clustering you shades of green came in the community has the reach of our future. And it's all different types of students from major different majors and different interest that they come together and work on dead the projects that are interesting to them minutes. And things like like waste and recycling in peer education on the on campus how can we improve our recycling rates and they can really take on that pure education rollers I in the back and can be working on signage and pin placement and you know more of their infrastructure side of it but I am. They also aren't the lead things like they're really involved in our annual building green justice form which is an environmental justice. Focused conference so one day conference. And that's one of our major initiatives and so the students are not fanatic and as much we need to bring in speakers to help educate them. They're also really involved with there's a larger each DCU. Student kind of consortium. Which was started out of the deep south center for environmental justice in New Orleans. And that's a Beverly right and doctor are Bullard her it and some of them and founders of the environmental justice movement. And they're where we're one of the schools involved in that consortium announced even how we ended up taking two students to cuffed when he won in Paris a few years ago. What happens or how would you define environmental justice. That's a great crashing environmental justice there's a few ways to define it by an irate. Really like the way of defining it where it's both advantages Ian burdens of the environment our shared equitably across all segments of the population. But attends injured definitions and more focus on the burdens but let's talk about the advantages as well things like the growing green economy happily make sure that the defendant as a fat and the ability to go solar are shared equitably across all segments and that's what. Our students connect she we've found I mean it it makes sense given the mission. She's until it's in university and how is founded in the time in which it was founded. An end and we just noted that's when students can see directly how something impact their community their engaged yeah that's that's incredible. Let's take a quick break here we come back with more from Karen and I get. Talk thirteen seventy. Max X energy lab I'm here at how Fraser I came back again this is Sharon harder. And we knew we left off before the break we were talking about as you did the green is the new black and student group and I would love to talk a little bit more it sounds like a really I'm sort of rich. An environment where they think kids are leading a lot of these initiatives and in supporting you in your issues and and vice present I would let's talk a bit more about how. How that works what kinds of initiatives that the students are her bleeding and how that and it plays with the work that you're doing behind the scenes. Mean look I mentioned in the waste and recycling cited an impure education side that the other thing that we've really been doing over the last few years is is working on our our physical. The landscape and infrastructure for the students especially are really involved are gardening on campus we started out with aid. And organic food garden and that is now expanded to we have a new a pocket pollinate or garden used outer rain garden at last year's Earth Day. Which was aimed like community and student and his staff are HT Ashford and and I was really it's a really nice visible spot also like France and the dining halls into these teen. And then this year will really started doing which is one of the most exciting things is restoring the native habitat and we buy it health. So facing seven street where on this amazing hill now in between seven and eleven thing between Chalmers and Chacon and it's visible but people don't. And drive by far too often and say they're seeing that's the university are we have a sign on 35 and they just don't connect with a Daria just on the street that's the university. And and there's pictures from the fifties we have these amazing pictures from the archives of students out on the still covered in blue finance picking for hours. And this would. It was there where we were approached by an alumni and said like what how could we restore this we can we make it's all donation to start this project and we started exploring it and and as we we just started the first process so where having said I'm. Tara some turf some non native species and we're trying to be delivered about it because yes you could just stroke. We by Nancy just share but this is a visible spot and let's. This is also how I approach a lot of operational sides of of sustainability HT isn't. How can we use this opportunity to improve the learning environment everything they do to improve the infrastructure is. Ultimately for the goal of improving our mission which is educating students and that means creating a better learning environments. So talk in this health through. You know signings and also being native habitat we can use that as a learning too and just. Physically making an attractive space more than just the about a somehow which are beautiful but can we ask mother native habitats and the seating areas and things like that so that's one of our other and so are this. Students have pretty heavily involved in that SES rather than they alumni are writing a check and just having a local native landscape architect come out and do the work it sounds like. This is really good involving a lot of the students in the process. Yes exactly and is through other partnerships to see our students are involved it was keep Austin beautiful this is how we get things done at a small university is involving the students in developing these partnerships. That's super cool so let me back in just a second what is a rain gardens. So arraigned garden is that lay and the landscaping feature that helps he's the guy who runoff and Rainwater and it can be used as a Wade's huge. And some your game. Her ready yet naturally irrigate yeah preserve water capture so we have it I'm an area where there the water was running off of a parking lot and I'm causing some erosion damage and think hey we can capture this water in music to create a nice landscape and solve this problem of Irish. How cool and then it's back come one step further do you guys have an organic garden. And you're growing things that are edible amusing vegetables so who gets to eat the vegetables it's open to campus it's smaller right now so basically a lot of staff come by and and pick our vegetables it's scary anyone we try to send LA king answers vegetables ready come by south find tickets that's great so this is my first year to start doing kind of four. Organic vegetable boring I notice her taking notes about taking notes and sets I guess you have to like almost every day you have to walk by and he was going on a garden and if there's fast serves they're selling ready eats either you take it or. The squirrels or something else we'll take it sounds that's pretty interesting yeah. Is is that a corporate a courageous sustainability corporate curriculum Houston Tillotson. It's it's. It's becoming more integrated and the one of the ways that are doing this now is we have an environmental studies major Alan it's not an Burma science major environmental studies so it's cross disciplinary and we're actually transitioning that to an environmental justice specific program. And that's going to be one of the only undergraduate programs and environmental justice in the country there's a few and there's a few graduate programs. Thank we really can got to be a powerful way to and we know that's how our students engaged is using that lens. And so also can we become. That's experts in this for an undergraduate. Field which you can approach it from of their ideas angles whether it's you know history or if you know political side and and political science or is it still on the science side. So that's one of the ways that it's a you know faculty from our departments are involved and we're trying to grow that program. Very cool dad sounds AMD engagement part with the students as an interesting interesting aspects of Anna's lumps them. Yeah and then what's what do we have here I was a little auto EI I understand that there is solar are on site at Houston to listen to how. Is there an energy sort of a with in this stem nadir with an assigned to earn his very eighth and you know kind of an energy. You know majors or curriculum is that was the solar integrated into that it's it's. In in small pieces that was so we started. Exploring the idea of having solar and in 2014. We had an Environmental Defense Fund climate our fellow which is a really great program there and graduate students from across the country that got placed in different sites and we've had three of them ever ever ready for years. And I mean this one initially started looking at our energy you know from landscape you know our error our energy footprint. Because it was it's and Berman offense and is in Texas specially they're looking at like energy water and access so initially energy was our focus. And it was an interesting time with. CD in San ends and you financing mechanisms coming on board and so I'm fat fellow explored in dissonant every surged four as far as. And then it over the course of you know months to a year island re votes we were able to show that and in pitch to the board in every every all the stakeholders across campus you know pass happy any. The decision. That it was a great thing to do in an in 2015. Late 2015 it was in. Starting came on line. This the the energy water nexus tough to tell me briefly what that is because it's super fascinating to me and I'm just. He said it's I wanted to clarify for our listeners what it is. And I'm not gonna be an expert in in in the definition and that is just another odd sense right there radiant her flaming news or some are usually does a day of the utility's rates and instead. Says largest sectors. A utility usage and they're connected ray is a lot of these huge portion of of water production and then end to end delivery is using energy. Hands energy production actually uses a lot of water as well also there's an inner play that can't be discounted and. Yeah and instead this is of he has a look at some of the reasons why I got NC the sustainability space this is a big one of them for me and thinking through. We know that there's a cave for repair resource and on the energy that we consumes and it's you know in Texas by a large natural gas today although there's a lot of nuclear and there are still some called it. The amount of water that is required to generate a lot hour is this is unbelievable and so. I used it I used to ask the question you know Burma sixty watt lightbulb for a year how much water do you think it takes. And it depends on generation source that's between three to 5000 gallons of water to run the sixty while liable for a year. And so. We've had these historically low energy prices because of the availability of a natural gas and tracking and things that have unlocked this. This energy potential was as that is they would send. The last has not ended priced into the market as Indiana's the cost of water which is something that we think this is pretty it's pretty on the horizon. But he Israeli view with that for just a moment and then we're gonna come back half for a final segment parents with doctor Magid I don't know if we can call you that meant but from the Houston Tulsa university will be right back. Thank you loud and bring innovation and sustainability in the lone star State's. We are back from break and we wanted to see you talked to Karen about we we talked with a dancer project a little bit at the beginning and I wanted to circle back to that and he's also a bit more about what type project is for people who haven't heard about it. Gas of the dancer project in short is a project to convert a dumpster in TU a sustainable tiny house I mean in tiny on that that they extreme edge of that it's 36 square feet. Yes that's even tinier than a tiny town knowing how these its own category when I guess is don't surprise exactly it's intense dumpster hound yes. And so I've seen this thing and says it's it's hard to describe in and it's tough also hard to photograph because how do you photograph of 36 square foot space but how did the project come about like is ideal assess yes I was initially there's a professor who is that the university I am for a year and brought to project a year by the idea the president of the university and then if you myself and it doctor intimacy you know. Came on board and and the three of us really good in initiated this project with the students. I am at HT about four years ago pain and it's been developing ever since and that professor who lived in an off and on for the first years they've gone from the university but it continues as a platform for environmental education. And it's the most engaging tool you can never used spurred to engage students of all ages in learning about the environment and in so how do you how do you entice them did you say UN US notice like cement trash can borrow. Karzai like USE you don't need as much space do you think luck. It's it's not prescriptive. It. Definition of like this is how you should live it's really open ended and that's puts our have been interesting about what we came into with a lot of you know it was like three scientists and I'm the materials background and then it mean Amanda is a biologist so it's really. You know everyone has their own perspective on Michael this is how we should do in this is going to be directing and I'm looking and amateurs respective. And they talk to kids and their likely is it TV I like OK that's so that's cynics and Morgan again as a TV and then I got where's the Xbox you know like OK like throw out insulation if they don't care about insulation and you know that the solar on the roof they care about they were working on that they've done. Yet the really like details of things like that no no they were they want really see it as a living space and that's what realizes. And to converting it into our house is different than. House to home what makes something a home and those questions the small size really highlight. All of the challenges. And that make it more fun and engaging all you did you show it to student and they're engaged in the crime minute and then they're exploring their lots of ideas to do they do it's amazing and said it's. It was kind of thrown out then what was the initial playbook and it's really open and at an exploratory. And so have you spent the night in the dumps her friends and I have I have right and spend and spend nights here in there or not doesn't. Committed amount of time that we've had other faculty that has spent. Are a couple months and there anywhere Fred we've had over thirty people now spend anywhere from in 92 a week to two months. And so if you're over six feet tall can you DM desist orders. Carla president diagonal okay so we have and I and you could well diagonal or if you don't do not many people sleep. Straight at lake fully extend and that's true. Chad just Mendez just think that would be a problem for a few significantly over six feet in the diagonal is the way to get. And so during the break you mentioned air India was the topic of conversation we are ruled that out as a possibility I think most of the dismissed from our listeners who would like experiencing being in a dumpster bad. Every south by we still get people like K commencing in the dumpster and the duster is available for anyone interested to stay we especially like to have educators come in stay in it and use it as what do I do whatever they way they want with their students but Unser. It's a research lab this dumpsters so anyone that is staying in at first they have to do know miners is so overnight and it. But there are research subjects and they sign a waivers and a variety of consent forms. With the university. He's saying that they're willing to be a test subject and that's as a weakened. Document their studies we don't we don't do anything significant with Allan for the people that stay in it where I'm asking the tough talking them about their experience and having them share their experience. But bed though the layers had a great time I think. I'm not a great nation of immigrants for this. Yes so tell us tells a little bit about how how careless or support page to you and the programs that you guys have. Yes and we have so many great. Projects going on and it's still relatively new and so we're always looking for. Partners that are really engaged in willing to invest time talent and resources into supporting. Especially are students and with their training and at pathways to jobs after they graduate even during the tiny HT there's a couple of really key events throughout the years that we're looking for partners on continuously that are getting injustice forum that I mentioned is held every follow this will be our fifth year. And sore I was looking for sponsors for that. Another really exciting thing that we're doing in February of 2019 which is going to be here before we know it is. For hosting the Texas regional alliance for campus sustainability summit this is all of that. Texas universities that have sustainability word can become together for an annual conference in HT as the host for next year's summit will. The liberty university's come like food absolutely I do you tease him you know get comes to that and that's a really great way to engage students because there's present instance present we went a couple of years ago and the students presented at. And so that's one of the ways that seem technique involves the looking for sponsors from god and time and environmental justice program like that is just starting inside there's always going to be. Room for yeah I really engaged partners who want to come and. And help the path and do a lot of your students. Try to stick around in Austin when they graduate and look for local jobs are they going different places errors and just follow the boards like it would be anywhere else is all over the board it's a mix I mean some students I definitely. I dude stay in Austin they you know there's there's great opportunities here's an episode there's there's a number students at stay and I can only imagine there'd be more if there were more. Pathways to two really good jobs here yeah. Let's get so for employers that are looking for earth and speaker and and and Smart innovative college student sounds like aged he's a good place to find them. And then certainly there's there's always a need for financial resources instead of being able says to invest and so these programs. As a big part as well. What about so this summer program to is that all staff flattered yet volunteers come in and help with that like the middle school. The stuff and turn their opera sees like African descent have got no money I don't. I'm a business they can they can potentially employs some of these kids spent. They're not really kids anymore I guess students. But I got time. Absolutely so I run a program called Oscar prep in the summer which is Austin pre freshman engineering program it's an offshoot of a larger program context prep which was started about forty years ago at a San Antonio. We've had Oscar prop twenty years on campus. And this is a program stem programs for middle schoolers for engage students that we can help. And advance them in the in the disk true you know in these fields. And and keep them engaged because we know a lot of students this is really start to drop off and I'm in those stem feels especially. Women so. I'm every day these students take classes for seven weeks on campus but we also every day have a we can't career awareness session. From 10381130. Bring in speakers from all different types of fields and related to Sam and really. Really we can be very flexible with that because he's students. I wanna show them as many avenues as possible into stem can kind of like a sustainability even if they don't end up in that strictly speaking my sustainability stamp and how can they incorporate that knowledge into their perspective. Yeah that's great and Karen thank you so much for coming on end and for sharing with us and we wish you the best of luck on these programs. And so doctor Karen Maggie with teased until some university sustainability director and stand director thanks a bunch. And thanks to our listeners will be back next week on the Texas energy lab on Austin's talks thirteen seventy.