Lauren Rabaino

Today’s college students have an opportunity to shift the course of human history. As environmental challenges become increasingly urgent, young professionals will have the opportunity to redefine the nation’s interaction with the environment. Our future careers will play an important role in addressing global climate change.

Devising solutions to the issues associated with global warming will be a monumental undertaking. Eco-savvy young professionals will be capable of meeting these challenges head-on by incorporating global warming solutions into their work. Cal Poly is in a unique position to encourage the type of multidisciplinary effort in which the next generation will engage.

As a polytechnic university, Cal Poly has an academically diverse student body. Students from each of our colleges and departments bring a unique perspective to the table. By working together with students from other programs, they are able to prepare for the rapidly changing professional world. Students everywhere are finding that college is the perfect time to prepare for the challenges they will face in the working world. Nowhere is this more true than at Cal Poly.

In order to jumpstart the discussion about climate change, campuses from across the nation will host the largest teach-in in American history. On Jan. 31, 2008, more than 1,000 college campuses will host “Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America,” an educational initiative taking place simultaneously across the country. Cal Poly will host its own Focus the Nation event on campus.

On Jan. 31, there will be hour-long workshops in Chumash Auditorium during the day, featuring experts on many aspects of global warming solutions. Round-table discussions are planned relating to science, architecture, management, engineering, agriculture, English, faith, economics, psychology and public policy. All members of the Cal Poly community are invited to attend the events and take an active role in the conversations that grow out of them.

Focus the Nation will also include:

speeches by federal, state and local politicians, including expected addresses by California Congresswoman Lois Capps and California State Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee

an alternative vehicle fair

a live, interactive Web cast by national leaders in global warming solutions

a solar-powered musical performance in the University Union

art installations on Dexter Lawn and in the Epicenter

an environmental poetry slam

a green job fair and trade show

Last year, Cal Poly became the second university in the country to receive Focus the Nation endorsements from the President’s Office, the Academic Senate and Associated Students Inc. Since then, an organizing team of students, faculty, staff and administrators has been working to plan Focus the Nation at Cal Poly. Through the correspondences, conferences and meetings that have taken place with other organizing teams, Cal Poly has established itself as a national leader in Focus the Nation planning.

To date, more than 150 Cal Poly faculty members have committed to supporting Focus the Nation by focusing their classes on global warming solutions, traveling with their students to the events taking place on our campus or taking part in one of the expert panels.

Focus the Nation is an incredible opportunity for Cal Poly students to work together in preparing for the challenges that lay ahead. By capitalizing on the academic diversity of our student body and interacting with expert guests and panelists on Jan. 31, we can get a head start on developing global warming solutions for America.

Expect to hear much more about Focus the Nation as Jan. 31 approaches. As it will be a landmark event in Cal Poly’s history. For more information on Focus the Nation, please visit the national Web page at focusthenation.org. If you are interested in participating in the planning effort for Focus the Nation at Cal Poly, getting the word out about the event, or would just like to learn more, please visit focusthenationslo.pbwiki.com or contact organizers at focusthenationslo@gmail.com.

Matt Hutton is an environmental engineering senior, external vice president of the Empower Poly Coalition and co-director of Focus the Nation.

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