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Committee Mandate

The Sustainability Committee seeks to promote conservation practices and the wise use of resources at UAS. The committee makes recommendations to guide campus sustainability policies, advocates for these sustainability initiatives, and communicates the committee's activities to each member's respective departments.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a challenging concept to define. One of the more familiar definitions comes from the United Nations Brundtland commission: "sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency states: "Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations." The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education adopts a broader definition, defining sustainability "in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations."

What does sustainability mean to committee members?

Reflecting the range of ideas and understandings of sustainability, when asked about the principles of sustainability, committee members suggested sustainability also includes:

  • fairness and equity
  • conservation of resources for the future
  • maintenance of life sustaining functions and resources
  • a holistic approach
  • leaving things better off for the next generation
  • contextual, integrative, and long-term planning
  • critical thinking which allows people to understand the consequences of their actions.
  • reduction in violence and warfare
  • thinking globally and acting locally

Recent Committee Activity

  • Members and guests of the committee contribute articles to a monthly column at the Juneau Empire. The series is called “Sustainable Alaska
  • Organization of free screenings of films and brings in guest speakers.
  • Writing of letters of support for various local and regional sustainability-related initiatives.
  • Leading teach-ins and presentations at university events such as the Power and Privilege symposium.
  • Advocating for campus projects such as recycling, energy efficiency, and waste reduction.
  • Promotion of a campus carbon-reduction and offset program
  • Linking efforts with student-led Sustainability Club

American Campus Act on Climate Pledge

In Fall 2015, UAS joined over 200 colleges and universities in signing the American Campus Act on Climate Change Pledge to demonstrate support for strong international climate action prior to the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. Chancellor Rick Caulfield's Statement on Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship can be found here.

2014 STARS ReportSTARS, a program of AASHE

In 2014, UAS completed a year-long sustainability audit with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program, earning a Bronze rating. This places UAS on par with UAA in terms of sustainable practices.

For more information about the AASHE STARS program, see the AASCHE web site.

Sustainability Research & Education

In the Spring of 2013, the Sustainability Committee adopted definitions of "sustainability research," "sustainability-focused courses," and "sustainability-related courses" at UAS.

Sustainability research explores sustainability-related social, economic, cultural, and environmental variables; or examines an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens.

Sustainability-focused courses concentrate on the concept of sustainability including it's social, economic, cultural, and environmental dimensions; or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lense.

Sustainability-related courses incorporate sustainability as a distinct course component or module, or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue.

The goal of sustainability education is to provide students, regardless of their course of study, the knowledge and skills to help create a healthy economy, society, and environment.

In order to determine wheather or not a course has this goal in mind, it is useful to ask whether or not a given course will help students to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Understand and be able to effectively communicate the concept of sustainability.
  • Develop and use an ethical perspective in which they view themselves as embedded in the fabric of an interconnected world.
  • Become aware of and explore the connections between their chosen course of study and sustainability.
  • Develop technical skills or expertise necessary to implement sustainable solutions.
  • Understand the way in which sustainable thinking and decision-making contributes to the process of creating solutions for current and emerging social, environmental, and economic crises.
  • Contribute practical solutions to real-world sustainability challenges.
  • Synthesize understanding of social, economic, and environmental systems and reason holistically.
  • Contribute to the understanding of cultural sustainability through practice or investigation of Alaska's cultures.

A course does not have to accomplish all of these things to be designated as sustainability-related or sustainability-focused.

Committee Members

The UAS Sustainability Committee is a Faculty Senate Committee comprised of a rotating membership representing natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, and public administration. Representatives from Facility Services, the Student Sustainability Club, and the university administration attend the meetings. Meetings are scheduled by the Committee chair and held several times a term.

Sonia A. Nagorski

Assistant Professor of Geology

Phone: 796-6580Fax: 796-6406


Arts and Sciences - Natural Sciences

Whitehead Bldg, Rm 227, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


Ph.D. Geology, 2001, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

M.S. Geology, 1997, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

B.A. Geology and History, 1994, Amherst College, Amherst, MA

Curriculum Vitae


Environmental geochemistry, including:

  • Trace metal occurrence and dynamics in hydrological systems, including water, sediment, and biota
  • Atmospheric mercury deposition and cycling
  • Water quality assessment and monitoring

Courses Taught

  • Geology 104: Physical Geology
  • Geology 105: Geological History of Life
  • Geology 301: Geomorphology
  • Geology 320: Geological Resources and the Environment
  • Geology 393: Field Geology - Death Valley
  • Environmental Science/Geography 213: Natural Hazards
  • Environmental Science 375: Current Topics: The Anthropocene
  • Environmental Science 375: Current Topics: Plastics in the Environment
  • Environmental Science/Geography 102: Earth and Environment
  • Humanities 120: Alaska: A Sense of Place
  • Humanities 193: Environment, Ethics, and the UAS Experience

Lora E Vess

Associate Professor of Social Sciences, Social Sciences Department Chair

Phone: 796-6152Fax: 796-6406


Heidi Pearson

Associate Professor of Marine Biology

Phone: 796-6271Fax: 796-6447


Arts and Sciences - Natural Sciences

Anderson Bldg, Rm 205C, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


Ph.D., Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 2008
B.S., Duke University, Durham, NC, 1998

Curriculum vitae (.pdf)


Go here to learn about my marine mammal research lab, BREACH, and read the latest updates from the field.

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 311 Communicating Science 
  • BIOL 375 Discussions in Marine Mammalogy
  • BIOL 111 & 112 Human Anatomy and Physiology 
  • BIOL 384 Marine Mammalogy 
  •  BIOL 380 Marine Ornithology and Herpetology 
  • BIOL 353 Tropical Marine and Coastal Ecology 

Susan L. Kendig

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Phone: 796-6275Fax: 796-6447


Arts and Sciences - Natural Sciences

Anderson Bldg, Rm. 205G, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


  • M.S., Chemistry: University of California Santa Cruz
  • B.S., Chemistry: University of California Santa Cruz
  • B.S.N., Nursing: Linfield College


Use of carbon free-radicals in stereoselective synthesis of amino acids.

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 100 – Introduction to Chemical Science
  • CHEM 103 – Introduction to General Chemistry
  • CHEM 104 – Survey of Organic and Biochemistry
  • CHEM 105L & 106L – General Chemistry I & II Labs
  • BIOL 111 & 112 – Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II
  • BIOL 375 – Special Topics

Jim Powell

Assistant Professor of Public Administration - Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center

Phone: 209-5676


Arts and Sciences - Business & Public Administration

Novatney Bldg, Rm 111, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


  • B.A. Rochester Institute of Technology, Eisenhower College (1978)
  • M.P.A. University of Alaska Southeast (1995)
  • Ph. D. Natural Resource Policy and Sustainability Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks (2012)


Adaptive and Climate Governance, Sustainability Indicators, Local Decision Making


Powell, J.Chapter 8  Five Conditions conducive to Sustainability Plans and Measurements. In Quality-of-Life Indicators Vol. VIII. Springer. In-Press. November 2019.

Powell, J., Chapter 11. Sustaining Sustainability in Whitehorse, Yukon. In Robert W. Ottung (Ed) Urban Sustainability in the Arctic, Measuring Progress in Circumpolar Cities. Bergham Books. October 2019. ISBN  978-1-78920-735-4

Orttung, R.W. Powell, J., Fox, J., Franco, C. Strengthening Food Security Near the Arctic Circle: Case Study of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska. Sustainability May 14, 2019,

Williams, Paula; Alessa, Lilian (Naia); Kliskey, Andrew (Anaru); Rinella, Daniel; Trammell, Jamie; Powell, James; McCarthy, Molly; Abatzoglou, John. Integrated dataset for stakeholder perceptions of environmental change and instrumented measures of change. Data in Brief. Volume 21, December 2018, Pages 1721-1723

Williams, Paula; Alessa, Lilian (Naia); Kliskey, Andrew (Anaru); Rinella, Daniel; Trammell, Jamie; Powell, James; McCarthy, Molly; Abatzoglou, John. The role of perceptions versus instrumented data of environmental change: Responding to Changing Environments In Alaska. Environmental Science and Policy. December 2018, Pages 110-121.

Powell, James E., Wipfli, Mark S. Criddle, Keith R., Schoen, Erick R. Will Alaska’s Fisheries Regime Prove Resilient? Kenai River Fishery Management as a Model For Adaptive Governance. Fisheries. Vol. 43. No. 1 January 2018.


Jim Powell conducts research in several Alaskan and Arctic communities on adaptive capacity, and measuring socio-economic impacts around climate change, COVID 19, and food security. Jim has worked with the Fairbanks Northstar Borough and co-authored their recent Sustainability Plan. Currently, Jim serves on Juneau’s Sustainability Commission. Jim also teaches natural resources and local government classes in the UAS MPA program. His research is informed by 35 years in Alaska managing environmental and natural resource programs mostly spent at the Department of Environmental Conservation including Special Assistant to the Commissioner, a Division Director, and managed the Water Quality Standards Program. Jim’s interest in local governance led him to run for public office and consequently served three terms on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly including three years as Deputy Mayor. He balances his teaching and research with serving on nonprofit boards and consults with local communities on environmental issues and sustainability planning.

Kevin Maier

Associate Professor of English

Phone: 796-6021Fax: 796-6406


Arts and Sciences - Humanities

Juneau Campus


Please refer to Dr. Maier's Curricula Vitae for detailed information.

William Elliott

Assistant Professor of English

Phone: 796-6419


Arts and Sciences - Humanities

Whitehead Bldg, Rm 215, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


Ph.D. English. University of California, Davis. 2014

B.A. English. University of Puget Sound. 2006

Courses Taught

ENGL 419: Discard Studies

HUM 270/370: Sport, Leisure, and Cultures

ENGL 226: American Literature

ODS/PE 115: Winter Backpacking

WRTG 110: Introduction to College Writing

WRTG 111: Writing Across Contexts

WRTG 211: Writing in the Humanities

WRTG 212: Technical Writing


Growing up in rural Alaska, we were always reading, especially the snow. Today I am still reading, nose in a book, nose to the air. As a teacher, and scholar of literature and environment, my work attends to the ways that our experiences are both socially constructed and materially grounded, shaped by stories and signs that are often curved along the contours of a more-than-human world.

Michael Ciri

Vice Chancellor for Administration

Phone: 796-6570Fax: 796-6276


I.T. Services

Hendrickson Bldg, 111, Juneau Campus

Juneau Campus


Michael Ciri was raised in the wilderness by wolves and dropped in front of the Mourant Building in 1982 to fend for himself. And he fended well. He went from student to student employee to a regular employee in computing in 1986. He became director of Information Technology and Media Services in 2000.

He is UAS educated, receiving an AA in 1988, a B.A. in Liberal Arts in 1994 and received his master's in Public Administration in 2007. He also holds the record for most consecutive years of living in student housing and is in the UAS mascot hall of fame as the original "Spike" the whale.

Ke Mell

Planning and Construction, Project Manager

Phone: 796-6480


Facilities Services

Juneau Campus

Jon Lasinski

Director of Business Services

Phone: 796-6497



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