Why should we start regenerating and stop reprimanding?

Corrie A Harris, MA

Regenerate. The word is derived from the Latin word “generare,” to create, and the prefix “re,“ meaning again. According to Merrium-Webster, this word means to restore, to form again, and “to change radically and for the better.”

Regenerate. This is the word that triggered a moment of clarity and enlightenment for Corrie Harris, Program Manager of the Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity, during the Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in early February. Here, members of colleges and universities from across the country came together for a productive discussion of what it means to create a sustainable economy.

Harris spoke on a panel with representatives from Institutes and Centers around the United States. Members of the panel discussed how different university-affiliated organizations are working across sectors to strengthen their local economies.

“You do not have to have the word sustainability in your title to incorporate resilient and sustainable principles into your work and life,” Harris said. “It really boils down to responsible management of resources.”

Harris’ personal highlight from the conference? Hearing Paul Hawken, renowned author of Drawdown, environmentalist and activist, give a keynote address about regenerative development. Regenerative development focuses on reviving, recreating and rethinking our existing practices.

In his address, Hawken recalled a conversation he had with a colleague about the inadequacy of recent environmental efforts.

“We failed,” the colleague said. “It’s game over.”

“I disagree,” Hawken replied. “It’s game on.”

Hawken argues that it’s time to take a step back and listen. For example, we should stop insisting that people ride bicycles to work. Bicycles aren’t always practical. Weather, extra passengers and cargo all complicate the simple “just bike instead” mandate. It is time to think though what people need: safe, reliable and affordable transportation. It is time for innovators to design smarter cars that have a benign effect on the environment. Companies like Tesla have proven that efficient cars can be a practical solution to environmental problems.

“It was the term I was looking for all along,” Harris said in reference to her work in Nicaragua.

Regenerative development is the new guiding concept for Harris as she moves forward with her research in development with the Hunt Institute.


Story Contributors

Written by: Anna Grace Carey

Edited by: Maggie Inhofe

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