Topics: Sustainability/Environment, College of Sciences and Humanities, College of Architecture and Planning

October 1, 2009

"Going green" has been accepted for years as the catchphrase for environmentalism. Many students, including Ball State University's Kristopher Pring, believe the social movement is still sprouting new ideas.

Pring plans to serve on an advisory council on sustainability for IBM. His association with IBM started last fall when the senior psychology major, noticed a flier advertising an international brainstorming session for students, teachers and professionals passionate about global sustainability. Learning that its sponsor was IBM, he decided to look into the initiative. After signing up, he was invited to post his thoughts on environmental topics online during the session.

"Many of the posts were very interesting," Pring said. "And I found it nice to know what people thought about this subject because I am passionate about it too."

The 2009 Smarter Planet University Jam took place April 21–23, with contributors from nearly 200 universities in 40 countries. Due to his enthusiasm and passion for the topic, Pring was named a top student contributor to the Jam in July. Only 20 students received this recognition out of almost 2,000 participants.

"Jammers" offered up recommendations on ways to reverse carbon emissions, development of inexpensive and pollution-free transportation, water management and conservation and providing health care as the world's population continues to grow.

Robert Koester, professor of architecture and director of Ball State's Center for Energy Research/Education/Service (CERES), said students could become involved with green initiatives on Ball State's campus by providing guidance like the kind Pring provided during the jam.

"Our Western culture is living beyond our means," he said. "The students' future is theirs. They have control over what consumptive practices we continue to follow or what new stewardship practices we adopt."

Pring, an Anderson, Ind., native who graduated in May 2009, said he believes resources of fossil fuels are running out, and alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, nuclear or geothermal power, must be harnessed for use sooner rather than later.

"These are the technologies of the future, and they are going to sustain people for the long run until a better alternative comes along," said Pring, who now lives in Middletown, Ind., and works at Primerica Financial Services in Muncie.

Pring also believes it doesn't take much effort to make a difference in developing a smarter planet. Students can pick up small, simple, everyday habits–such as recycling and walking or biking instead of driving.

"Some of the easiest things are as simple as asking the printer to use both sides of the paper," he said. "Save money, invest wisely for the future and don't get too far in debt without a plan to get out. These things will make our planet a better place for everyone to live."

Pring has since been invited to be a part of a student advisory council, which is still in the process of forming. IBM officials said they want to continue the dialogue with students on Smarter Planet topics, both through the student advisory council and with an online employee/student-mentoring program they plan to launch on Facebook. Pring said he is honored to be a part of this initiative.

"Apparently, someone liked what I had to say," he said. "I'm glad my opinions can be used to make a better world."

By Alyssa Brumback