Jason Elliott
Jason Elliot, a Manchester graduate, spoke to students, faculty and staff about his work regarding environmental sustainability at Duke University, and provided knowledge and tools to help make Manchester a more sustainable institution.
Photo provided by MU

Alum Jason Elliot Addresses Campus on Growing Sustainability at Manchester

Jared Holley

Manchester Alumnus Jason Elliot returned to present a VIA on growing sustainability. He studied both accounting and economics at Manchester, and later went on to get his masters at Duke University, where he works as the assistant director of Sustainable Duke.

When sustainability comes to mind, people tend to edge toward riding their bikes, renewable energy and planting trees. Although these are key factors, Elliot said: “I am going to pivot the paradigm a little bit to broaden it.” The definition he brought up has to do with meeting the needs of the present without impacting the needs of future generations.

He noted that sustainability is a combination of social, environmental, and economic doings. These three topics are the “pillars” of sustainability. Elliot also adds human health and wellness to this.

What does sustainability bring to the world? The United Nations has created a list of broad sustainable development goals that were adopted starting in 2015. These goals go all the way from ending poverty to having zero hunger and gender equality. “These things are massive,” Elliot said. “How can we even think about how our role in this could make possibly make a huge impact?”

According to Elliot, when it comes to meeting the aforementioned goals, the more people there are, the lighter the work there is for all. The responsibility for creating solutions is not just in one certain field or person, but in a ton of different professions. With certain acts come negative effects also, so with these acts we need people to see the outcomes of both the bad and the good, such as ethical issues and endangering animals.

Some sustainability professionals include climate change researchers, renewable energy engineers, and environmental advocates. “When I wanted to go into sustainability, my family called me a tree hugger,” Elliot said. Although these are the main jobs when it comes to sustainability the field is ever changing and jobs unknown right now are on the way.

Elliot was born in Goshen, Indiana, into a poor family, where he became a first-generation college graduate. “Growing up, my mom always told me we are supposed to make this world better than what we are getting now,” he said. He ended up taking accounting in high school––and was the only one in his class. After studying both accounting and economics at college, he wants to put his skills toward bettering the world.

To begin, he studied in Japan, where he learned some Japanese. This made him look at people teaching English to speakers of other languages differently. He now saw them as someone teaching difficult concepts to diverse audiences.

While at Manchester, Elliot was a co-manager of the organic garden and went to Washington D.C. on a peace studies trip. In his senior year he got to conduct research and had a paper published. He took all his interest and learnings and went to graduate school, which in turn led him back to Manchester, where he was on the presenting side of the stage