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Student Spotlight: Julian Marcu '18

1. Where you are from? How did you choose Dartmouth?

I live ten minutes south of San Francisco in a small beach town called Pacifica. I spent my middle school years in Suwanee, GA and went to Saint Ignatius College Prep in the sunset district of San Francisco for high school. Having lived on the West Coast and in the South, I wanted to experience the East Coast. I went on a tour of East Coast schools and immediately fell in love with the Dartmouth community. It was the exact environment I wanted to live in for the next four years: small, quaint, and welcoming.

2. What are you studying here at Dartmouth? How do those studies relate to sustainability?

I am an Environmental Studies Major and a Minor in Markets, Management, and the Economy, so basically all of my studies center around sustainability. I focus on the interaction between business, government and the environment, so I mainly take interdisciplinary courses such as Business and the Environment and Environmental Economics and Governance. I also have a specific interest in the role that the built environment will play in the transition to a sustainable economy in the United States, so I also research energy systems, infrastructure, and sustainable real estate.

3. Why did you become involved with the Sustainability Office?

I got involved with the Sustainability Office because I wanted to have a positive, tangible impact on the Dartmouth Community. During my sophomore year I applied to be a part of the Dartmouth Energy Task Force and spent a couple terms researching the most cost-effective ways to reduce Dartmouth’s carbon footprint. We looked at energy efficiency improvements, fuel switching, policy changes, renewable energy implementation, and further education on energy issues.

4. You participated in a study abroad trip to Denmark. What was that like and how did it enhance your sustainability studies?

The decision to participate in the Copenhagen Exchange was definitely a calculated choice to get the most out of my study abroad experience. Besides being a beautiful city in one of the world’s happiest countries, Copenhagen also has one of the best green infrastructures in the world. It won the European Green Capital Award in 2014 for its sustainability efforts, and at least half of its residents bike to their place of work or school everyday!

While at the University of Copenhagen, I studied International Development, Danish Architecture and Urban Design, and Transnational Sociology. I was able to incorporate sustainability into all of my courses by researching sustainable development, green infrastructures and urban ecosystems, and global environmental politics. Even though I learned a lot through my classes in Copenhagen, I learned even more by interacting with students from all over the world and living in a society with a completely different governance system than the U.S. I became very good friends with my two Danish mentors and even had the opportunity to play on a Danish professional basketball team during my last month in Denmark!

5. What else are you involved with on campus?

On campus I am actively involved with the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network where I have worked since my freshman year and where I will be starting my second year as a DEN Associate. Also, I spend a lot of time in Alumni Gym lifting with the Dartmouth Body Building and Weightlifting Club or hooping on the Dartmouth Men’s Club Basketball Team. The basketball team is most active in the winter when we have the opportunity to travel to Boston for the regional club basketball tournament and the annual Ivy League tournament hosted by Harvard. Additionally, I am very involved with the Rockefeller Center where I have served as the co-president of the Rockefeller Business and Entrepreneurial Leaders and where I have completed the Management and Leadership Development Program as well as the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program.

6. Could you tell us about CERA, what it is, and how you got involved? What about your research with Professor D.G. Webster?

As time passed at Dartmouth I knew that in order to successfully pursue a thesis I would have to gain formal experience conducting research. Having taken three classes with Professor Webster, and having the highest respect and regard for her, I knew that she was the professor I wanted to work with. I applied to be a James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar, and Professor Webster and I began our project during the summer of 2016. We are currently conducting research on “Prices and Policy in the Transition to Sustainable Energy” where we are investigating the hypotheses that the government is reactive and that policies that level the playing field between fossil fuels and renewables are more likely to occur when prices for fossil fuels drop.

One day during my off term this winter I received an email from Professor Webster about an opportunity to attend an energy conference in Houston called CERAWeek. CERAWeek is the world’s premier energy conference and receives representation from over sixty countries. Some of the most powerful CEO’s from the energy industry, some of the most influential political leaders, and some of the most brilliant academics descend on Houston for a week full of plenaries, dialogues, networking, and deal making. I cannot accurately describe how valuable of an experience CERAWeek was for me. It provided a behind the scenes look at the real world of energy from the perspective of industry, and demonstrated how large of a role the oil and gas industry will continue to play during the transition to a decarbonized energy future. CERAWeek also helped me hone my networking skills and improve my overall professional demeanor as I struck up conversations and exchanged business cards with chief legal and executive officers. Each day was twelve to fifteen hours of endless, valuable information, but it was worth every minute!

7. How do you incorporate sustainability into your daily life? What else can Dartmouth students do to be more sustainable?

Reducing your personal carbon footprint and being more sustainable is all about daily choices. Here are some tips:

  1. Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere you go.

  2. Turn off and unplug everything that’s not being used.

  3. Always bring your own bag when you go shopping.

  4. Take care of your things so they last longer and you don’t need to buy something new.

  5. Buy pre-owned. Go to flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores when you can!

  6. Bike or walk over driving.

  7. Don’t throw your old things away. Give them away when you can. There are so many platforms to donate nowadays– Freecycle, Close 5, and LetGo to name a few! At Dartmouth you can get involved with programs such as the Sustainable Moving Sale and the Staff Sale.

  8. Try to eat less meat. (As an athlete and a lifter this may be the hardest for me)

  9. I know it's buffet style at FoCo, but don’t waste food. Try not to take more than you’re actually going to eat. Some estimates show that up to 30% of food is wasted in the United States!

  10. Most importantly: raise awareness and share knowledge with your peers!

8. Favorite thing about Dartmouth? What do you do for fun?

My favorite thing about Dartmouth is definitely the culture and the people. I love that there are so many smart and passionate people who are also social and know how to have a good time. I have so much fun getting involved with any and all athletics on campus– whether that’s playing on the club basketball team, playing intramurals, or playing volleyball or soccer on the green.

9. Favorite class you've taken so far? Recommendation for future students interested in sustainability?

It’s so difficult to pick my favorite class. I’ve taken so many that were thought provoking, inspirational, and fun. Within my major my favorite classes have been Global Environmental Politics, Business and the Environment, and Political Ecology. Outside of my major I would say have to say Latinos in the Media and Arts and Game Design Studio.

Students interested in sustainability need to know that energy is at the heart of any sustainable economy and that business does not exist separately from the environment we live in. For these reasons, anyone interested in sustainability definitely should take Energy and the Environment and Business and the Environment.

10. What, in your opinion, is the best thing we can all do to encourage universal environmental sustainability?

One thing everyone can do is appreciate what he or she has. Appreciation allows you to focus on your needs over your wants and allows you to live more efficiently and sustainably.

From a macro perspective, I would say that the most important change every country can make is investing in green infrastructures and sustainable built environments. Our physical surroundings and their associated services and systems have a profound impact on our behavior as humans. If we have the infrastructure, services, and systems in place to make the sustainable choices, eventually societies will make a paradigm shift towards environmental stewardship.

11. Anything else you’d like to add that you think our readers would be interested in knowing!

Don’t be afraid to chart your own course and break the mold. Do what you’re passionate about. I like to live by this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Just don’t leave a dirty trail!

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