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Virtual sustainability conference will connect Grand Rapids students with others around the world

  • An aerial photo of downtown Grand Rapids

Posted on February 19, 2019

Grand Rapids Public School students will connect virtually with other students around the world to present and discuss issues related to sustainability and climate change.

The fourth annual Youth Virtual Conference will take place February 20 at 11 a.m. with City/High Middle School and the Center for Economicology in Grand Rapids hosting the event. Presentations will come from students in Portland, Oregon; La Paz, Costa Rica; and Minna, Nigeria.

The schools involved are part of the United Nations University network of Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCEs). Grand Valley is a member of the Grand Rapids RCE, which includes other local universities and West Michigan businesses.

The Grand Rapids RCE committee meets to plan events like this conference. 

The theme of this year’s conference is "A Regional Perspective on Climate and Sustainability." The conference will serve as a forum for students and educators to present on sustainability-related climate change issues of their communities and regions.

Vince St. Germaine, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist at GVSU, said the participants will connect via a collaborative web-conferencing platform that allows users outside the university to participate.

“Giving kids the opportunity to participate in these types of sessions with peers in other parts of the world helps drive home the point that some of the issues here are not different,” St. Germaine said.

The Youth Virtual Conference will be streamed live on YouTube and closed-captioned. It will also be archived for anyone who would like to watch at a later date.

St. Germaine said the conference creates a global learning community for students to understand complex sustainable problems related to climate change. It also teaches students problem-solving and communication skills.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to reach out, build relations and learn that you don’t have to be in the same region to communicate and collaborate on a topic of interest,” St. Germaine said.

For more information about the Grand Rapids RCE, visit