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About the SSLS | Governance | Past Symposia

Group of student pose for a picture at the Sustainability Student Leaders Symposium

Tufts University students attending the 2022 SSLS at Umass Dartmouth

The recent SSLS, held at Bentley University on October 29th, 2023 was a wonderful success. The sustainability team at Bentley University welcomed ~100 attendees from 9 colleges/universities across our region. The event kicked off with lunch and mingling, and was highlighted by keynote speaker Leah Thomas, author of Intersectional Environmentalist. As well, 9 student presentations were well received by the audience members and empowered students to test out new ideas at their home campuses.

  • Ability to host during the middle of the fall semester
  • One large gathering space for meals
  • Several breakout rooms with projectors, computers, and screens
  • Capability to fund (or secure outside funding for) all event costs. The total cost can range from $2,000-$25,000.
  • Staff & student support for event planning

What is the Sustainability Student Leaders Symposium?

The annual SSLS (née Eco Rep Symposium) brings together Student Sustainability Leaders from many different colleges and universities in the Northeast to learn and be inspired by each other during a half-day conference. Peer-to-peer sustainability education and engagement programs (sometimes called Eco Reps) are commonly found at colleges and universities with sustainability programs. These students promote environmental stewardship by raising awareness about ecological issues and encouraging environmentally conscious behavior. A list of other names for similar programs can be found here.

The SSLS is a great opportunity for students to learn and be inspired by each other through presentations, workshops, and round-table discussions. The structure of the symposium allows students from different schools to lead sessions on a variety of topics, providing valuable presentation experience as well as facilitating the spread of ideas between schools. Sessions are typically grouped by broad topics, or tracks, such as “engagement,” “building a program,” or “communications.” The symposium typically includes opportunities for students to meet each other and share ideas informally.

The symposium provides an opportunity for attendees to be part of an active community of like-minded individuals striving for positive environmental change on their campus. It also gives students the mobilizing and facilitating tools to create grassroots peer-to-peer environmental education in their communities after they graduate. After attending the symposium, students should feel empowered in their work as sustainability leaders and feel like they have been given new tools to help them overcome barriers they may face in their work.

"It was great to learn about where other students were coming from in terms of background and experience with environmentalism and activism. I had a great time presenting about my experience taking part in Project Green challenge and answering questions."- 2019 Symposium Attendee 




Since 2014, the Symposium is guided by a Board of Curators made up of sustainability staff from colleges and universities in the Northeast. Its mission is to make sure the annual Student Sustainability Leaders Symposium continues to exist and flourish.  It meets a few times a year to choose host schools and discuss other matters related to the symposium.

Current Members:

Name Title School
Ashwani Vasishth Associate Professor Ramapo College of New Jersey
Holly Francis Sustainability Coordinator Champlain College
Lisa Tornatore Sustainability Director Boston University
Sophie Rodgers Manager of Sustainability Bentley University
Bruce Dixon Sustainability Program Director Boston College
Tina Woolston Sustainability Program Director Tufts University
Kevin Snyder Associate Professor Southern New Hampshire University
Perry Dripps Program Coordinator, Sustainability Engagement Penn State University
Jade Chalkley Sustainability Peer Education Coordinator University of New Hampshire
Jamie Jacquart Assistant Director of Campus Sustainability UMass Dartmouth

Past Symposia

2023 - The 2023 SSLS was held on October 29th at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts with the theme "Intersectional Environmentalism: Bridging Perspectives for a Sustainable Future."

2022 - The 2022 SSLS was held on November 5th at UMass Dartmouth in Dartmouth, Massachusetts with the theme “Careers in Green Industries." View photos from the symposium here.

2021 - 2022 - The 2021-22 SSLS was hosted by UMass Lowell in Lowell, Massachusetts. See more details about this event on their website.

2020 - The 2020 SSLS was hosted by Southern New Hampshire University on November 8th, 2020. More information can be found in the 2020 SSLS website.

2019 - The 2019 SSLS was hosted by Boston College in Dover, Massachusetts. Visit the 2019 SSLS website for more information.

2018 - The 2018 SSLS was moved to spring 2019 and hosted by Brandeis University & Wellesley College in Waltham, Massachusetts.

2017 - The 2017 SSLS was hosted by Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Satellite locations included Champlain College in Burlington, VT and Emerson College in Boston, MA.

2016 - The 2016 SSLS was hosted by UMass Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit the website to learn more.

2015- The newly renamed Student Sustainability Leaders Symposium was hosted by Connecticut College.

2014- The #EcoSympo was hosted at Tufts University.

2013-  The symposium was hosted by Boston University and GreenerU.  Check it out here.

2012- Brown University and GreenerU hosted the symposium.  The schedule can be found here.

2011- Symposium was hosted by Babson College and GreenerU.

2009- Tufts hosted the first Eco-Rep Symposium and with the class Environmental Action: Shifting from Saying to Doing hosted a half-day conference for college students region-wide to share best practices in peer-to-peer education.