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Class presents sustainable solutions at Ohio University Student Expo

Thursday, April 21 2016 12:00am

One class. Eight posters. 22 students. A world of difference.

By Brianna Wilson

For the marketing sustainability class at OHIO’s College of Business, sustainability is way more than a word. It’s a legacy, according to Colin Gabler, assistant professor of marketing and Freeman Fellow. It was his idea to have students complete a semesters’ worth of research to find long-term solutions to environmental problems both on campus and in the Athens community.

Projects—like the students’ interests—were quite diverse. They ranged from reducing food waste in dining halls to creating sustainability video boards in the Ping Center to partnering with the Office of Global Opportunities to educate students on how to travel sustainably. One group mapped Bird Stadium for optimization of recycling bins while a tech-savvy team revamped the Office of Sustainability website. Another used textile waste like old t-shirts to design reusable grocery bags, and then partnered with the Athens Farmers Market to bring the product to market.

“Each group created something that will either remain intact on campus or serve as a template or prototype for future use,” said Gabler.

Eight student groups presented their solutions at the Ohio University Student Research & Creative Activity Expo Thurs., Apr. 14. More than 800 students exhibit their work at the expo each year and are judged by experts in that field. 


“College of Business students do great research, but to this point it hasn't been showcased enough at the Expo. I thought ‘why not have my entire class present?’ So as a class we applied for a grant from the Research Division, which was matched by the College of Business to print posters,” explained Gabler. “We’re so thankful for their support.”

Gabler’s class collected three awards across two sessions. Winners were Kristen Alexander, Kyle Lavelle, and Paul Ottaviano for their energy efficiency education project; Ariel Cash, Erica Mirth, Lauren Owen, and Gavin Shryock for their innovative textile collaboration with the Athens Farmers Market; and Evan Forst, Alan Sarver, and Zach Schlimm for a campaign to co-locate recycling and waste bins on campus.

How the project developed

It all started with collaboration. Gabler met with Annie Laurie Cadmus, director of the Office of Sustainability, to see how his class could help address local sustainability problems. Students attended an open house where they met individuals from the OHIO campus and Athens community to find projects that matched their interests. Working with their project coordinators, they spent the semester developing their ideas, conducting research, and developing their posters.

“This semester has been a blast for me and my students. There is so much potential for collaboration between the College of Business and the Office of Sustainability, I’m excited about the future,” said Gabler.

Looking toward the future

The future of sustainability at OHIO is brighter thanks to these #BusinessBobcats. As for the future of this project, Gabler hopes to have his class participate in the expo every year, and continue to leave lasting legacies around campus.

Read more about the project in this Compass article