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NMSU's OASIS group to host World Café networking event on sustainability

As part of New Mexico State University's designated Year of Sustainability in 2009, the university will host a World Café networking event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, in NMSU's Corbett Center East Ballroom. The event will focus on the economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability.


"This event is good for both NMSU and the community because we hope it will encourage an open dialogue and strengthened ties between the two groups," said Mark Uchanski, a faculty co-adviser for the Organization of Aggie Students Inspiring Sustainability (OASIS), the student group organizing the event with the support of the NMSU President's Office.

"In many ways the university and community are two distinct groups with unique problems, challenges and resources. However, there are also many shared challenges between the two groups. If we pool resources and ideas, we can attain a critical mass that may not have been possible otherwise," Uchanski said.

Connie Falk, the other faculty co-adviser for OASIS, describes the World Café as a technique to facilitate conversation that brings people together to discuss important topics. Participants move to multiple discussion tables, taking with them insights from previous tables, and share these insights with their new conversational partners. This "cross-pollination" technique leads to the emergence of a collective wisdom, which is "harvested" and analyzed by the group as a whole.

The event is by invitation only because space is limited; however, the results will be released shortly after the conversation. Those invited to the discussion include NMSU students, faculty and staff as well as community organizational leaders, individuals from the political community, business owners, farmers and more.

"One of the main goals of the World Café event is to bring to light the full breadth of what sustainability encompasses - economic, environment and social aspects - and connect resources and ideas to find solutions. Often the environmental side of sustainability is emphasized, but the other two aspects are of equal importance and cannot be ignored," Uchanski said.

In keeping with the topic of sustainability, the menu for that day will consist of organic and locally grown food products.

For more information on the NMSU event, contact Mark Uchanski at uchanski@nmsu.edu. More information about the World Café is available at www.theworldcafe.com.