Students encouraged to create “green” idea


Northern Michigan University is currently accepting entries for The Big Green Idea, a competition aimed at making Northern a more environmentally-friendly campus.

The student with the best ecological entry will receive a 32 GB iPod Touch.

Open to currently enrolled students, the competition requires a one-page summary explaining students’ ideas on how to make Northern “greener.” The entries can either be practical or fantastical, but the winner will be selected based on originality, feasibility and potential impact.

The contest is sponsored by the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), an organization dedicated to providing perpetual improvement to colleges and universities.

The idea behind the project is to get students involved in making their community a more environmentally-friendly place, said Jim Cantrill, a speech communication professor and AQIP Sustainability Committee member.

“We want to increase students’ awareness,” he said. “We want to get them involved as more engaged students.”

Cantrill said that students don’t need to enter the competition in order to make a difference in the environment.

“Ultimately, going green begins at home,” he said. “It’s as simple as reducing our water consumption, recycling material and being cautious with what we consume and how we consume it.”

Ideas are not limited to individuals and AQIP hopes to get submissions from groups as well, Cantrill added.

Senior business major John Bobrowski said he was open to the idea of a “greener” campus. He said he hadn’t heard of The Big Green Idea, but thinks that it is a promising plan.

“In the area NMU is located, a more environment-friendly campus would be ideal,” he said.

Andy Volpe, a junior human-centered design major, said he is considering entering the competition.

“I think it is a big step that Northern needs to take toward this idea of sustainability,” Volpe said. “Becoming sustainable is something that will make Northern really stand out.”

Peter Pless, a human centered design professor, said the project will benefit the Marquette community.

“The Big Green Idea is an important endeavor,” Pless said. “I think it’s definitely important as a community that we really understand and research what we’re doing and what types of materials we’re using in order to create a more sustainable type of environment.”

Northern has a great opportunity as a university to really make sustainability its flagship, Pless added.

“Going green means more than just recycling paper,” he said. “It is incredibly crucial that people begin to look at the bigger picture.”

Cantrill said he encourages individuals or groups to submit their ideas no matter how big or small they might be.

“People may not think that their ideas are worthy of consideration,” he added. “But empires are built on ideas out of people’s minds.”

Submissions must be e-mailed to [email protected] by March 24. More information can be found on AQIP’s Web site at