Earth Day: Challenges and Sustainability


Little things matter. Little things like motor oil in a creek, silt flowing into storm drains and…

Georgia (Apr 10, 2013) — Little things matter. Little things like motor oil in a creek, silt flowing into storm drains and plants that need heavy watering.  With Earth Day approaching Kennesaw State University professors offer some suggestions that can, ultimately, improve the environment.

“The big thing is to be aware of where your water comes from and where it goes. Most people view water as an expendable resource and in fact it is a resource that is becoming increasingly limited,” said William Ensign, a biology professor.

“So, the things we do that change it are pretty important,” Ensign said. “For example, if you change your oil in your car, take precautions so that it doesn’t get into creeks near your home. If there is excavation or construction going on in your neighborhood and you don’t see the proper silt fencing, contact the local water authorities. People can make small changes that ultimately can improve water quality and supply, such as installing low-flow toilets and using plants in your yards that you don’t have to water as often. Native plants often don’t require as much water or the application of pesticides or herbicides."

Drought in the region continues to be a concern, so rain barrels to collect and re-use water for gardening are also good ideas, said Robert C. Paul, a biology professor and the director of Sustainability at Kennesaw State.

Kennesaw State University continues to make sustainability a top priority, Paul said.

Paul noted that:

  • Kennesaw State was among seven college and universities in the state to be named in the “Green Colleges List” issued by the Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council.

  • Prillaman Hall and The Commons received the Green Building Council’s LEED Gold Certification.

  • The Social Sciences building is LEED Silver certified.

  • The Science Laboratory is being reviewed for LEED Gold certification.

  • The Commons dining hall has water- and energy-saving features, food wastes are composted and oil waste is sold as a biodiesel source.

  • The farm-to-campus program provides fresh fruit, vegetable and honey for the University’s culinary services.

Kennesaw State University has several experts available who can provide insight and perspective into the scientific, historical and cultural issues surrounding sustainability, environmental preservation and Earth Day.

Feel free to contact any of Kennesaw State’s faculty experts directly.  If you don’t see who and what you’re looking for in the list below, please contact Yolanda Rodriguez in University Relations at 770-499-3057 or at

Sigurdur Greipsson, associate professor of biology.

Expertise: ecology, restoring degraded ecosystems, using plants to filter toxic pollutants, controlling invasive species.

Contact: 770-420-4359,

William Ensign, professor of biology.

Expertise: fish diversity in waterways, understanding stream habitats.

Contact: 770-499-3505,

Brent McDaniel, assistant professor of physics and associate editor of the Journal of Climate.

Expertise: Large scale atmospheric patterns, climate change, climate models.

Contact: 678-797-2345,

Robert C. Paul, director of Sustainability at KSU and professor of biology.

Expertise: sustainability, effective recycling and conservation, science and society.

Contact:  770-423-6179,

Michele Zebich-Knos, professor emeritus of political science.

Expertise: international environmental policy, Latin American politics, and global regulatory policy.


Elizabeth Giddens, professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies, and coordinator of the  American Studies Program.

Expertise: environmental writing and literature; environmental literacy; and the national park movement, particularly the establishment and management of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  

Contact: 770-423-6766,

Additionally, the student-run Geography Club, Progressive Earth Alliance at Kennesaw (PEAK) and Our Owl Prints will co-host a film festival on April 22-25 at 8 p.m. in the Social Science Auditorium, Room 1019.  The films are free and open to the public.

Monday, April 22: In a film about climate change, “There Once was an Island” focuses on the Polynesian community of Takuu, a low-lying atoll in the Pacific Ocean, who must decide whether to stay or relocate.

Tuesday, April 23: “A Place at the Table” explores hunger in America.

Wednesday, April 24: “Houston, We Have a Problem,” about oil in America and includes interviews with Texas oilmen.

Thursday, April 25: “The 11th  Hour” documents the environmental challenges facing us:  global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of the oceans’ habitats. It features  more than 50 politicians, scientists, and environmental activists, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit