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Sustainability News

School of Sustainability News Alumni and Student Spotlights

December 10, 2018

School of Sustainability senior Sawyer Treese is a proud Sun Devil. Since both of his parents are Arizona State University alumni and he’s lived in Arizona his whole life, it’s no surprise that Treese chose to pursue a degree from ASU. From studying abroad in South Africa to working with Tempe City Council, Treese has been gaining immeasurable life experience throughout his time here.

As he’s reaching the end of his Bachelor of Science in sustainability along with a minor in urban planning, Treese is excited to finish his work here in order to expand outward where help is needed most.

In the Q&A below, Treese talks about what sustainability means to him and how he intends to apply sustainability knowledge in his career.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: There are many reasons why I am a Sun Devil. First, I chose ASU because of its mission to base success on inclusion, rather than exclusion. I believe this concept should be applied throughout society, as we thrive on diversity. Next, ASU is top in the nation in many categories: research, graduate preparedness, and innovation, of course. In addition, I am proud to be a member of Barrett, the Honors College, which was described as “the gold standard” by a New York Times columnist. Lastly, I decided to attend ASU because of loyalty to my family and state. Both of my parents are ASU alumni, and I have known no other place to live than in Arizona.

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study sustainability?

A: My understanding of sustainability was basic before I applied to the program. I knew it involved our environment, the economy and our society, but it wasn’t until actually taking classes at the School of Sustainability that I knew I was in the right place. Sustainability is more than learning about multiple fields of study — it is about understanding the interconnectedness of our world, the values in our decisions, and the vision of a more just and equitable society. I know I am where I belong because I share those values and am constantly learning how to turn this vision into a reality.

Q: What’s been your favorite class so far and why?

A: All sustainability classes are interesting and informative in their own regard, but my favorite was Systems Thinking with Professor Michael Schoon. This class changed my perspective more than any other as I could apply its concepts to literally any aspect of life. The class was engaging and provided a space to discuss complex concepts. I attribute many of my fundamental understandings of sustainability to this class.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your out-of-class activities?

A: Sustainability has provided many extraordinary opportunities outside of the classroom. One of my first experiences was volunteering to help collect research at the Tres Rios Constructed Wetlands. Through this experience I became involved with the Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab on campus and started forming what would become my honors thesis.

I also volunteered to help with Lauren Kuby’s campaign (Tempe’s current vice mayor). Consequently, I learned the importance of civic engagement and accepted a job with Next Generation America to improve voter turnout among young people. Another notable experience was studying abroad in South Africa where I learned about the wildlife economy and water security issues (top photo). Each of these experiences have broadened my understanding of sustainability in ways that may not otherwise have been learned in the classroom setting.

Q: How do you envision applying sustainability to your future career?

A: I believe sustainability should be practiced throughout all careers. Understanding long-term consequences, recognizing the value of diverse perspectives, and considering global impacts are essential to any decision. Implementing sustainable solutions will improve the health of our environment, ensure equity in our society, and increase the efficiency of the economy. I plan to utilize my knowledge of sustainability to improve livelihoods both now and for generations to come.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

A: Sustainability means preserving human values and protecting vulnerable communities, while striving towards equitable societies and achieving the highest quality of life for current and future generations.