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The University Magazine

RIT launches Environmental Management Leadership Initiative

Corporations around the world employ environmental managers to help them develop and realize their environmental policy goals. While there are a variety of associations that help environmental managers do their jobs better, no organization focuses on what the profession ultimately wants to achieve – until now.

John Morelli, the Russell C. McCarthy chair in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, is spearheading an effort to launch the Environmental Management Leadership Initiative. The initiative is designed to create a philosophical home for the profession and a forum for professional environmental managers to collaboratively engage in research and discussion, in an effort to better define the profession.

“Our goal is to elevate and enhance the environmental management profession,” Morelli says. “We want to take a step back from our daily tasks and take a look at the big picture of where our profession is and where we want to end up.”

The initiative has two main components: the Environmental Management Leadership Symposia series and a Web site,

The leadership symposia will be held in the United States, European Union and Asia over the next two years. These events will consist of workshops that will examine specified issues with a long-term goal of developing consensus documents representing the position of environmental managers on a variety of topics and issues. Attendance at each symposium will be by invitation and limited to approximately 60 people. The first took place May 5-6, 2008, at RIT. Future symposia are scheduled into 2009. is intended to serve as an international research collaboratory for environmental management professionals, faculty and students to develop topics and issues for discussion at the symposia, and to provide continuity between events. It will also host published position papers and other working documents.

Morelli believes this initiative takes on added importance as the global community works to develop a more sustainable environment.

“Sustainability has to be a multidisciplinary effort. Each profession should examine where it can contribute,” Morelli says. “We want to determine what role environmental managers should play in the sustainability effort. All environmental professionals are invited to visit and get involved in the discussion.”

John Follaco