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Bruce Karas, VP, Environmental Sustainability, Safety & Tech, Coca-Cola North America

Bruce Karas, VP, Environmental Sustainability, Safety & Tech, Coca-Cola North America

Global Sustainability Conference

The Patel College hosted the first Global Sustainability Conference on the Circular Economy at the USF Tampa campus on October 17 & 18, 2019. The conference brought together global sustainability thought leaders and practitioners from academia, industry, government and non-governmental sectors. Keynote speakers from Tesla, Coca-Cola, Mosaic, Bristol Myers Squibb, Jacobs and Jabil introduced the concept of circular economy and its applications to specific areas of sustainability practice within their organizations. Panel speakers also discussed how sustainability concepts are applied in cities and local governments, as well as in the utility and energy sectors. Those attending the conference included public, private, non-profits, academia and community members, in addition to USF faculty, students and alumni.

In his opening remarks, Dean Govindan Parayil explained that the concept of circularity is as important as nexus and systems thinking in sustainability theory and practice, and made the case that “the Circular Economy approach is restorative by design, relies on renewable energy, minimizes the use of natural resources, and maximizes the reuse of materials at the end of each use cycle or what we unimaginatively call the waste products of our production consumption cycle." Dean Parayil also commented: “We at PCGS believe in the possibilities of harnessing useful knowledge from natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and policy studies to advance sustainability research, education and practice”.

Patel College has received numerous positive comments and constructive feedback on the conference. Keynote speaker Dr. Victoria Emerick, Director of Global Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability at Bristol Myers Squibb, commented that she was “amazed at all the wonderful work being done through the Patel College.” Her presentation was on the efforts Bristol-Myers Squibb is taking to reduce waste at their global bio-pharmaceutical company. Dr. John Mogge, Federal Solutions & Technology Director at Jacobs, and courtesy faculty at PCGS, presented on Jacobs’ Hurricane Michael and Tyndall Air Force Re-Construction Project, which places a significant emphasis on coastal resilience. He remarked that he was pleased to be invited for the conference and “very honored to be part of its success.”

As part of the conference, Patel College hosted a Sustainability Career Session that included speakers from Tesla, BMS, Coke, Jacobs and Publix. Alumni and students from USF were given professional career advice by these highly experienced sustainability leaders, helping them to understand what qualities and competencies that industries want and are looking for in their new employees.

Overall, the two-day conference showcased another successful educational and community outreach event in the College’s short history. It further established the great work being done at the College, and paved the way for new partnerships with business, academia and the Tampa Bay community. PCGS looks forward to organizing and presenting similar global conferences in the coming years.

To view conference presentations, speaker bios and videos, please go to:

For more information on partnerships or sponsorship opportunities with the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, please contact Assistant Director, Kelly Gaskell,