By UW Sustainability | Apr 28, 2021
Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference 2022

The Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WOHESC) is now accepting proposals for the next conference, to be held March 2-4, 2022. The conference theme is "The Path Forward to an Equitable and Regenerative Economy." The conference program will look at fair, equitable and sustainable economies, and rebuilding with a clean, green careers-driven approach. With a broader goal for a sustainable future economically, environmentally and socially, we aim to examine what roles universities play in building and sustaining robust local economies and the complexity of “recovery” through providing actionable content with a vision for an equitable and sustainable future.

Submissions for program content, speakers and sessions will be accepted until October 15, 2021. See the full details below or as a PDF.

Submit your proposal

WOHESC Call for Proposals

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 the Cascadia region and the role students play in a future world.

Conference Theme

The Path Forward to an Equitable and Regenerative Economy
Join us at WOHESC 2022 for a look at fair, equitable and sustainable economies, and rebuilding with a clean, green careers-driven approach. With goals for a sustainable future economically, environmentally and socially, we aim to examine what roles universities play in building and sustaining robust local economies and the complexity of “recovery” through providing actionable content with a vision for an equitable and sustainable future. What pieces of the current economic systems support human thriving and equity? What portions should be transformed and why? What does and can the future of work look like? What role do universities play in a just transition of our economic system--locally, nationally, and globally? Join WOHESC to share your current work and future visions for an equitable and regenerative economy.

Social Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

One of the highest priorities for the WOHESC program is to be diverse, equitable, and inclusive. We strive to center DEI throughout conference thematic elements, speakers and attendees. It is important to us to include perspectives across diverse identities including race, color, religion, national origin, political affiliation or belief, disability, age, gender identity, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, institution, or industry background. Submissions to the Call for Proposals that address DEI, either directly or indirectly, will be given preference in the selection and program development process. In addition, it is our policy not to accept proposals without diverse representation in the proposed speaker line-up (i.e., submissions with all white male speakers, all from the same company or industry, or speakers without diversity of perspectives will not be accepted). We encourage a thoughtful process when selecting the speakers for your proposal; consider things like whether the panel represents a diverse set of views and are new voices and perspectives being prioritized.

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 that promote reflection and discussion.
  • Social Justice, 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:

Social Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) – integrated into all aspects of the program

  • Anti-racist institutions and commitments
  • Applying critical race theory
  • Eco-social justice to connect sustainability to equity
  • How sustainability programs can support social justice initiatives o Indigenous ways of knowing applied to sustainability
  • Integrating equity into a climate action plan
  • Integrating justice, addressing environmental privilege
  • Sacred sites and indigenous land on our campuses o Significance of environmental privilege
  • Social and environmental justice

Social Economics

  • B-corps, sustainable business, and corporate social responsibility
  • Clean energy jobs, job creation and sustainable recovery
  • Compassionate conscious capitalism, post-capitalism, Reimagining capitalism o Economic inequity and Just transition of our economic system
  • Economic side of sustainability and equity

Student Leadership

  • Getting started with student-led program development
  • How students can effectively work with administration and faculty o Organizing a campaign
  • Professional development for students
  • Resilience during a crisis training
  • Student research
  • Students impact on their communities
  • Student-led sustainability and DEI initiatives
  • Students and local industry partnerships


  • Active design
  • Addressing sustainability during a pandemic
  • Climate anxiety and environmental grief
  • Dealing with food insecurity
  • Developing meaningful interactions for change o Individual action on overconsumption
  • Paradigm shifts and behavior change
  • Spirituality in environmental studies


  • Alternatives to the traditional economic paradigm. Sustainable recovery in and after a pandemic. o Assessments of student sustainability literacy
  • Coursework focused on service learning or community-based research
  • Cross-departmental learning
  • How to integrate sustainability into non-sustainability majors & careers: sustainability across the curriculum o New curricular pathways and concentrations/minors in sustainability
  • Overcoming challenges of sustainability work at smaller community colleges
  • Universities and colleges as living labs
  • Virtual reality’s role in education and outreach


  • Building resilience through social capacity
  • Communication/getting your message across online
  • Engaging students, faculty and staff about sustainability and social justice
  • How can veganism, zero waste, or minimalism influence our carbon footprint and impact on the planet
  • 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
  • How to motivate staff to get involved beyond just recycling and composting
  • How to promote a zero-waste environment for students on campus to develop positive life-long habits o Institutional cross collaboration to address climate change at a regional level
  • Program development – how to start sustainability program with reduced/limited funding
  • Repurposing/mending workshop
  • Using appropriate messaging to reach a diverse audience
  • Volunteering and sustainability


  • Business case studies and career opportunities
  • Centering community-based knowledge to create equitable and sustainable communities
  • Community building; social infrastructure
  • Community collaborations, engagement, and outreach
  • Current events in sustainability and actions that we need to support
  • Experiential learning
  • Getting a job/career in sustainability
  • Greenwashing
  • How to build community when you can’t get together physically
  • How to write climate action letters
  • Linking higher ed to state and regional scale disaster and emergency preparedness - best practices sharing o Local government sustainability leaders
  • Nonprofit, private sector and government work on climate change mitigation and innovative practices
  • Public policy advocacy and opportunities
  • Statewide sustainability literacy requirements
  • Water and Air issues
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Youth political action and student activism on a community scale

Operations & Facilities

  • Bees on campus
  • Bottle deposit collection programs
  • Clean energy, energy & water efficiency, and other cost-saving operational measures
  • Communicating sustainable practices to the campus community
  • Creating a restorative campus
  • Creating and achieving resiliency
  • Ecology and campus landscape
  • Ending single use plastics
  • Energy efficiency both in redesigning existing facilities and in development of new facilities o LEED threshold comparisons between campuses
  • Food purchasing, access, cultural sensitivity, and waste prevention
  • Pouring rights contracts
  • Preserving the natural habitat
  • Reducing chemical (ex. fertilizers) on campuses
  • Sustainability in campus master plans
  • Sustainable facilities management best practices
  • Sustainable purchasing
  • Transitioning away from natural gas and other fossil fuel-based heating
  • Waste reduction and consumption; reuse and repurposing
  • Working with campus administrators

Planning and Administration

  • Addressing small scale schools
  • Divestment
  • Funding university sustainability
  • How administrators can motivate staff to get involved and vice versa o Pandemic preparedness
  • Process and project management o Resiliency planning
  • Responses to state legislation
  • Strategic climate action planning

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.


Posters are displayed for the duration of the conference in our venue foyer and highlighted during a dedicated part of the program to showcase a range of ongoing sustainability projects and research. They are a visual presentation of a topic allowing viewers to learn on their own while the presenter shares in one-on-one or small group conversations.

To submit a proposal for a poster, please use the online proposal submission form including a description of the project, 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 offer educational outcomes and actionable 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 speakers to sign a release waiver to share presentation materials. Speakers with accepted proposals are expected to register for and attend WOHESC at the 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.

The following information will be requested, but optional to complete in the submission form for the submitter and speakers:

  • What preferred pronoun(s) do you use?
  • How old are you?
  • I identify my ethnicity as ______.

Click here to submit

Call for Proposals Timeline

April 22nd 2021: Call for proposals issued
October 15th 2021: Deadline for proposal submissions
November 12th 2021: Selection decisions announced
December 7th 2021: WOHESC 2022 program announced
March 2-4th 2022: Washington & Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Questions? Please email