Psi U Connects Grant Brings Dr. Barbara Hendrie, Kappa ’80 (Bowdoin) to University of Wisconsin Madison

The Psi Upsilon Foundation awards a reimbursement grant to deserving chapters (or groups of chapters) who want to produce educational programs or workshops both in-person and virtually. Recipients may use the funds, up to $1,000, (~$4,000 total annually for the program) to pay for hospitality, event space, facilitator/speaker fees, travel and lodging needs, production of materials, etc.

   Early in March 2022, at the UN Environment Assembly, diplomats from 175 nations voted unanimously to create a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution. The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called it “the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord.”

   Dr. Barbara Hendrie, Kappa ‘80 (Bowdoin), is the 2022 Psi Upsilon Social Impact Fellowship Honorary Fellows, and she was in the room. Barb is the director of UNEP’s North America Office, and on the evening of March 24th she spoke to UW–Madison students and faculty about the consequences of plastic pollution, as well as the importance of the resolution earlier this month. 

   “What I saw in Nairobi, what I was privileged to witness, is that global cooperation among nations to solve our collective problems is possible, but it needs to be enabled and motivated by action at local and regional level,” Hendrie said. “At that moment the gavel came down at the UN Regional Assembly, everyone felt an almost-euphoric sense of accomplishment in what we can achieve together when we put our minds to it.”

   Inspired by learning about Dr. Hendrie’s presentation during the Psi U speaker series and their relationship as brothers  of Psi U, Calvin Floyd, Rho ‘22, applied for a Connects Grant and asked for help contacting Dr. Hendrie.
   The title of Hendrie’s lecture, “Tackling Environmental Challenges (Including Plastic Pollution) Globally and Locally,” reflects UNEP’s emphasis on global and local approaches to sustainability.  According to its website, the organization “sets the environmental agenda,” “promotes the coherent implementation … of sustainable development within the United Nations system,” and “serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.”.  In her lecture Hendrie emphasized the scale of plastic pollution, which increased drastically in the past half-century: today there are 8.3 billion tons of plastic on earth, 6 billion of which is waste. Only 9 percent of single-use plastics are recycled globally, Hendrie said, and only 7 percent in the United States.

   Hendrie, one of six regional directors on the UN Environment Programme’s Senior Management Team, spoke in the latest of the Weston Roundtable Lectures, a series co-sponsored by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to “promote a robust understanding of sustainability science, engineering, and policy.” Calvin Floyd, a senior majoring in Environmental Studies, moderated the event’s Q&A and arranged Hendrie’s visit through his fraternity, Psi Upsilon, of which Hendrie was a member at her undergraduate university. The Office of Sustainability, including student intern Natalie Tinsen, provided additional support for the event.
   Calvin writes, “I gave her a walking tour which featured the Rho house and several landmarks on campus and escorted her to the introductory environmental studies class for one of the faculty sponsoring where she said a few inspiring words to the students, followed by dinner with everyone on the team involved with the event.  I cannot stress enough how grateful everyone was to have the support from Psi Upsilon and for the Foundation’s role in bringing Barb to campus…It feels like ages ago that we first started working out this event. Thank you so much for making this happen, it’s been a dream come true and it has proven to me the strength of our brotherhood.”

   After dinner, the campus event was a huge success, attended by brothers/alumni of the Rho, student leaders, and faculty numbering over 50 in total.  Srinath Srinivasan, Rho ‘23, Michael Kornely, Patrick Connelly, Rho ‘14), George Rouman, Rho ‘22), JH Verhoff, Rho ‘22, and Benjamin Bates, Rho ‘22 among others, enjoyed the lecture. 

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