|Submission Date||Jan. 28, 2016|
Sterling College (VT)
IN-4: Innovation 4
Director of Communications
Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Pavel Cenkl, faculty member in Environmental Humanities at Sterling College, had a unique idea for raising awareness about climate change: run across Iceland.
In June, Pavel Cenkl, 43, of Craftsbury, Vermont, set out from Iceland’s Atlantic coast and ended up at the Artic Ocean, three days and 171 miles later. The semi-supported solo run, named Kjölur Run, took him past the glaciers, thermal springs and waterfalls of Iceland’s Kjölur Plateau.
Cenkl is something of a multi-sport academic: in addition to typical-sounding courses like Literature of the Northeast, he teaches courses in Adventure Literature, Rock and Ice Climbing and Trail Running.
“My academic work has focused on the relationship between people and the natural world,” says Cenkl, who, in addition to serving on Sterling's Environmental Humanities faculty, is Director of Athletics and coaches the school’s trail-and-mountain-running team, the first of its kind on the U.S. collegiate scene. “I see significant interweaving between helping students understand and enjoy physical challenge outside and studying the way humans interact with nature.”
Iceland holds special significance for Cenkl—he first visited the country as a 5-year-old, and returned in 2007 to teach a field class—which was one reason that he chose to locate his run there. But Iceland also has broader symbolic weight when it comes to the climate.
“[Iceland] is at an ecological crossroads,” he explains. “The Arctic is where the impact of climate change has already been felt most keenly, and Iceland itself has seen significant glacial recession.”
With Kjölur Run, Cenkl hopes to encourage athletes and adventurers to think about the role they can play in confronting climate change.
“As outdoor athletes, we are unique in the ways that we depend on a consistent and active relationship with our environment,” Cenkl says. “We’re out in it all the time and often witness subtle changes in seasonality, temperature or snowpack more keenly and more immediately.”
A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):
The run brought a lot of public attention to the issue of athletes and climate change. Dr. Cenkl was profiled in Vermont Sports, Trail Runner Magazine, and National Geographic, to name just three publications. Dr. Cenkl was also named one of 2015's Vermont Athletes of the Year for this run. Response was so positive that he is considering another run this summer; it might not be across Iceland but it might be another area that highlights the need for climate resilience.
A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
|Yes or No|
|Air & Climate||---|
|Coordination, Planning & Governance||---|
|Diversity & Affordability||---|
|Health, Wellbeing & Work||---|
Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available: