By Daimon Eklund | Aug 22, 2019
WOHESC 2020 banner

The Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WOHESC) will be March 2-4, 2020, at the University of Oregon. Submissions are now being accepted for speaker, session and case study proposals. The deadline is October 11.

See the full details below or on the WOHESC site.

Submit proposals here

Call for proposals open now!

Event summary

The Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WOHESC) is an opportunity for collective direction and solidarity in higher education for our region. As political, social and environmental issues become more complex, WOHESC convenes and empowers stakeholders who are driving leadership and generating solutions for a more sustainable, just and equitable future. Our aim is to both enliven the role of higher education in the future of Washington and Oregon and the role students play in a future world.

Conference Theme: Root Causes and Positive Actions

WOHESC 2020 will continue to work to advance equity, diversity and inclusion through conference thematic elements, speakers and attendees. We aim to examine systemic change and operating principles through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion to generate dialogue and guide and inspire action. This year, we focus on root causes to sustainability challenges and positive actions to address them. Speakers should be prepared to share how their work intersects with diversity, equity and inclusion. If a panel or presentation does not directly address DEI concerns, panelists should be prepared to be active learners and pose to the audience questions about how they can better integrate DEI concerns in their work. Audience members should expect and press conversations around DEI.

2020 Host Campus – University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is committed to the triple bottom line and has become a national leader in campus sustainability through the efforts of administration, faculty, staff, and students. The University of Oregon is actively engaged in greening facility operations, innovative research, supporting and encouraging student initiatives, implementing environmentally and sustainability focused curriculum, and sponsoring public service initiatives.

Proposal Selection Criteria

  • Actionable and Transferable - We want attendees to leave our sessions with a skill they can put to use, a project they can implement, or new knowledge of a subject to take back to their own work. Generating meaningful and actionable learning objectives and ideas that transfer between institutions and organizational partners will launch discussion about overcoming the limitations of replication and increase likelihood of selection for inclusion in the conference program.
  • Creativity of Subject Matter - We are interested in creative problem solving that goes beyond what has been tried before and will inspire action and thinking outside of the box. We are particularly looking for innovative proposals that will inspire solution-building in the sessions with attendees.
  • Connectivity - We seek proposals that assemble linkages among faculty and curriculum development activities, campus operations, research, student affairs, and student initiatives. This event aspires to bring stakeholders together from separate divisions of the campus to create collaboration and to break-down traditional silos.
  • Quality - We are looking for high quality session abstracts that describe how the proposal will convey a clearly articulated subject and objective. We are dedicated to ensuring that the presentations at our conference meet the high standards of the academic institutions that host the conference.
  • Interaction - Above all, our selection team is committed to proposals that will bring an engaging delivery of presentations and inclusive interaction for everyone. Preference will be given to proposals that outline participative and experiential formats.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - WOHESC strives to weave DEI throughout conference thematic elements, speakers and attendees. Submissions that account for this topic, either directly or indirectly, will be given preference in the selection and program development process.

Topic Areas

WOHESC is seeking, but is not limited to, submissions from the list of topics outlined below:

Student Leadership

  • Student-led sustainability DEI initiatives
  • Students taking the lead
  • Student’s impact on their communities
  • Professional development for students
  • Students and local industry partnerships
  • Getting started and student-led program development

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Integrated into all aspects of the program

  • Social and Environmental Justice
  • Integrating Justice, Addressing Environmental Privilege
  • Integrating equity into a climate action plan
  • Eco-Social Justice as a way to connect sustainability to equity
  • Significance of environmental privilege
  • Applying critical race theory


  • Integrating sustainability across the curriculum
  • Overcoming challenges of sustainability work at smaller community colleges
  • Assessments of student sustainability literacy
  • Coursework focused on service learning or community based research
  • Cross-departmental learning
  • New curricular pathways and concentrations/minors in sustainability


  • Engaging students, faculty and staff about sustainability and social justice
  • How to motivate staff to get involved beyond just recycling and composting
  • How to bridge the gap in communication that exists across political party lines
  • How to get people involved, motivated, engaged right now beyond personal conservation efforts, focused on the urgency of climate change
  • Dealing with climate anxiety and environmental grief
  • How to promote a zero-waste environment for students on campus to develop positive life-long habits
  • How can veganism, zero waste, or minimalism influence our carbon footprint and impact on the planet


  • Community building; social infrastructure
  • Community based partnerships
  • Current events in sustainability and actions we need to support
  • Community collaborations
  • Economic inequity
  • Business case studies and career opportunities

Operations & Facilities

  • Program development – how to start sustainability program with reduced/limited funding
  • LEED threshold comparisons between campuses
  • Energy and Sustainability Performance Solutions
  • Campaign to end single use plastics
  • Process and project management to drive results
  • Sustainable purchasing
  • Climate action planning; resilience and readiness
  • Sustainable facilities management best practices
  • Communicating sustainable practices to the campus community
  • Clean energy, energy & water efficiency and other cost saving operational measures
  • Scaling sustainable food
  • Preserving the natural habitat
  • Sustainability in campus master plans
  • Tracking progress
  • Working with campus administrators
  • Waste reduction and consumption; reuse and repurposing

Planning and Administration

  • Process and project management
  • How administrators can motivate staff to get involved
  • Divestment
  • Community partnerships and regional collaboration
  • Funding university sustainability
  • Strategic planning
  • Responses to state legislation

Breakout Session Styles

(75 minutes in length)
WOHESC is seeking, but is not limited to, submissions for different session styles described in detail below.

Case Study/Speakers (for inclusion as a part of a session or panel)
Submit a new and original case study that demonstrates leadership, busting the status quo and developing inventive breakthroughs in thinking. This could be combined with other case studies/speakers into one inclusive session.

Participative Panel Discussion (3-4 speakers and a moderator)
An interactive version of conventional panel presentations with 3-4 speakers and a moderator leading the group discussion; emphasis will be on drawing connections between the panelists’ perspectives. The aim will be to both share fresh ideas and generate new knowledge amongst the participants in the room.

Interactive Workshop (facilitated conversations for problem solving)
Alternative formats for hands-on, experiential learning; sessions can be outlined in any structure depending on the topic areas and selected proposals. Designed to provide space and facilitation for group discussion, these sessions will bring mixed perspectives together to tackle the bigger picture sustainability challenges facing higher education. These sessions will require experienced facilitators to introduce the topic and provide background information to the room. Proposals will require additional information including a session timing outline and a session pedagogy including learning design, activities and engagement tasks and actionable takeaways.

Solutions Generators
These sessions consist of attendees sharing, in about 5 minutes or less, a problem that they are having. These problems can be conceptual or practical. You will explain the problem you are having (for example, attracting diverse participation in your programming or considering how social justice can be implemented into your transportation plan), and you and the audience members will brainstorm ideas to address this problem. These 15 minute sessions are designed to allow people to present their problems, rather than their expertise. These sessions give participants an opportunity for hands-on, interactions sessions that can inspire actionable takeaways.

PLEASE NOTE: WOHESC reserves the right to make changes to submissions and require alternative combinations of speakers and case studies to most effectively shape each session’s content and the conference sustainable learning experience as a whole.


The Planning Committee invites proposals for posters to be displayed for the duration of the conference in our venue foyer and highlighted during a dedicated part of the program. The goal of the posters is to showcase a range of ongoing sustainability projects and research via visual presentation of a topic allowing viewers to learn on their own while the presenter discusses particular points in one-on-one or small group conversations.

To submit a proposal for a poster, please use the online proposal submission form. Be sure to provide a description of the project to be highlighted, how it contributes to the overall sustainability of your campus, and how it addresses the conference theme. Posters must be printed and mounted by presenter; WOHESC will not be responsible for printing posters.

Speaker Guidelines

Presentations are not meant to be a platform for business promotion. WOHESC requests that all proposals tie directly to offering educational outcomes and actionable next steps/takeaways for attendees. Speakers are responsible for confirming that they have the right to use and will acquire the licenses needed for any copyrighted material used in the presentation. We will ask all speakers to sign a waiver if they wish to share their presentation materials through WOHESC communication channels. Speakers with accepted proposals will be expected to register for and attend the conference for a special discounted speaker rate, at their own expense.

How to Submit

All proposals must be submitted through our online submission form. All information outlined below is required submitted proposals:

  • Submitter’s name and contact: "Submitter" is the individual completing the online form and who will be available to answer any questions about its contents, regardless of whether he/she is the proposed speaker.
  • Proposal Title (20 words maximum)
  • Abstract (500 words maximum)
  • Session Description (3-4 sentences that will be published as a part of the conference program)
  • Proposal type/session style
  • Relevant Audience- please specify if you are submitting your session for a student focused audience
  • Learning objectives (please list 3-4 lessons/insights the audience will take away from this session)
  • Additional Speakers (you should secure permission from speakers before including them in the submission )

Interactive Workshop proposals will require the below additional information:

  • Session timing outline
  • Session pedagogy including learning design, activities and engagement tasks and actionable takeaways achieved from attending the workshop. Please also make note of any special materials, room structure or capabilities your session requires.

Call for Proposals Timeline

  • Friday, October 11th, 2019 - Deadline for proposal submissions
  • Friday, November 8th, 2019 - Notify submitters review decisions
  • Monday, December 2nd, 2019 - Publish program
  • March 2nd-4th, 2020 - Event dates