Joining Elon University this year, Net Impact plans to educate students on how they can make a difference in sustainability through leadership. According to Christy Benson, adviser and professor of business law, the skills learned in this organization will reflect on their jobs later in life.
“The Elon Chapter of Net Impact seeks to demonstrate to students how they can make a tangible difference on the most pressing issues of our times — whether it be climate change, social justice, saving our oceans, or protecting our most vulnerable people and places,” Benson wrote in an email to Elon News Network. “There are more and more ways for folks entering the work force to make a positive impact within their companies and in the wider communities in which we all live and work.”
Bringing the chapter to Elon’s campus, seniors Katie Robinson and Johanna Bogue Marlowe wanted to continue Net Impact’s mission of creating young leaders to make a difference in the world.
According to Benson, Elon’s Net Impact chapter’s goals are threefold: sponsor events that educate the community on the power of sustainability, connect students with networking opportunities that will help them facilitate positive change and work with other Net Impact chapters to support these objectives.
“One of the main goals is just having a community on campus where people can kind of bring sustainability into their lives on campus, as well as careers in the future,” Robinson said.
According to Robinson, the club executives are planning many events, including hosting speakers and sponsoring film screenings, in order to help achieve these goals. These events are in the works for 2022 and will involve panel discussions about job opportunities in the field with agricultural companies and alumni. Recently, the club took a tour of Loy Farm to promote and educate members on what the university is doing to assist its sustainability initiatives.
“We can see the fact that sustainability isn't something that's taught to all students at Elon,” Robinson said. “One of our goals, long term, is to have an impact on that and bring sustainability more into the curriculum so that everybody graduates here and is educated enough to make a more sustainable world.”
Robinson and Bogue Marlowe said they have identified that there is a lack of connecting sustainability to different majors, which translates to a lack of understanding the environment in the real world. This inspired them to create the Elon chapter of Net Impact.
“We're looking at the holes in the gaps in the curriculum right now in those different areas and how sustainability can kind of help fill some of those gaps,” Bogue Marlowe said. “I know that as an environmental leader, it’s always talked about with me.”
Benson remembers when the organization as a whole was created 28 years ago while she was an MBA student. She said sustainability was simply a buzzword then, but it now has a deep meaning in how organizations operate.
“The fact that major organizations are actively seeking to balance people, planet and prosperity means that there are more opportunities than ever for students to pave career paths,” Benson wrote. “They can make a meaningful difference in changing the world for the better at the highest levels of organizations of all sizes in the private and public sectors.”