This past week, 40 students participated in deiSic, a 24-hour, student-run think tank and contest in collaboration with the Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF). The goal of deiSic is to spur conversation and promote new student projects related to sustainability at Brandeis.
Its first year on campus, deiSic is in the unique position to effect change from a largely student-run perspective. The use of student leadership is beneficial because students have the most potential to create change on a daily basis. Even something as simple as passing out 1,000 reusable mugs, a project being funded by BSF, can make an impact on campus sustainability by reducing the amount of cups thrown away. With the think-tank structure of deiSic, participants can consider their ideas in a stimulating group of like-minded people eager to offer advice and suggest new perspectives, aided by qualified mentors like professors and student leaders for environmental action.
The winning project of deiSic, Flip the Switch, is an initiative encouraging students to check the lights in academic buildings, record which ones are on and turn off unnecessary lights if possible. Funding would help develop and patent an app where students could sign up for shifts to check the buildings. This kind of student-motivated action is crucial to creating lasting change on campus and encouraging the administration to respond to student concerns and improve its role in campus sustainability.
DeiSic also provides the motivation to consider sustainability with the possibility of being granted funding. The proposed projects do not just end in discussion; deiSic provides the perfect opportunity for students to have a direct say in the thousands of dollars offered by the BSF.
If the university addressed more issues in a similar way, students would not only be more motivated to engage with these issues, but more likely to take action. The think-tank format combines brainstorming and innovation with the feasibility of funding, and even projects that are not given grants can be pursued by students later on. The ideas do not end at deiSic—the event is a springboard for students to pitch projects, get valuable feedback and be inspired to pursue their ideas. Other campus initiatives could benefit from using a similar approach.