The Limits to Growth, Revisited
The 2020 U.S. Census Bureau shows that the central Ohio region experienced the fastest population growth in the Midwest in the last decade, and Columbus was one of only 14 cities nationwide to add more than 100,000 residents. With population growth comes the need for jobs, housing, transportation, and infrastructure – is this form of growth sustainable for our region? Do we have the social and environmental systems in place to support this growth?
To provide a global perspective, the landmark MIT study Limits to Growth demonstrated fifty years ago that continuous growth is not sustainable and will lead to a collapse of human society. This position received global attention again this summer when Gaya Herrington (director, Sustainability Services, KPMG) updated the study’s original research models using decades of observations and current data. Her work published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology in June 20211 demonstrates alarming support for the Limits to Growth original thesis on a global scale – that humanity cannot sustain unrestrained economic growth. What does this mean for the Midwest’s fastest growing region?
In central Ohio decisions are made daily to impact its regional ability to thrive while also balancing the needs of its environmental and social systems. Sandy Doyle-Ahern (president, EMH&T) will describe efforts within the region to invest in sustainable growth.
In a lively and dynamic conversation with moderator Josh Knights (Sustainability Institute at Ohio State), Herrington and Doyle-Ahern will discuss how setting and achieving sustainable development goals through planning, engineering, and additional organizational strategies can improve environmental quality and limit the negative impacts of unrestrained economic growth.
Join this program for a candid conversation on human society – local, regional, and global development, and the sustainable development strategies in practice designed to enhance well-being and steer us from danger. Learn what we can do in the 21st Century to both confront the challenging findings in the support of the limits to growth, and to think about humanity’s global sustainable development, and strategies to align towards a different, more ecologically balanced future in the central Ohio region and beyond.
1Herrington, Gaya. 2021. Update to limits to growth: Comparing the world3 model with empirical data. Journal of Industrial Ecology 2021; 25: 614– 626 which has been published after peer review in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.13084.
For in-person guests
7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; Coffee served.
7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served.
For all program attendees
8:10 a.m. Jeff Sharp, PhD. (director, School of Environment and Natural Resources) and Josh Knights (director of partnerships, Sustainability Institute at Ohio State) provide welcome remarks.
8:20 a.m. Gaya Herrington (director, advisory, Sustainability Services, KPMG US) provides an overview of her research re-examining the Limits to Growth models, data, findings, and implications.
8:40 a.m. Sandy Doyle-Ahern (president, EMH&T) describes efforts by Columbus to invest in sustainable growth.
8:50 a.m. Panel discussion between Doyle-Ahern, Herrington, and Knights about sustainable development challenges and opportunities.
9:10 a.m. Audience in-person and virtual question and answer session.
9:25 a.m. Closing Comments by Dr. Sharp.
Gaya Herrington, director, advisory, Sustainability Services, KPMG US
Gaya Herrington is a systems thinker and published author working at KPMG as a sustainability researcher & consultant. She holds a Bachelor in Econometrics from the Liberal College of Amsterdam and a Master in Sustainability form Harvard University. Previous work experience includes economic & financial policy advisor at the Dutch Central Bank and executive director at a nonprofit that promotes sustainable economics. She lives in the greater Washington D.C. area with her husband and daughter.
Sandy Doyle-Ahern, president, EMH&T
Sandy Doyle-Ahern is the President of EMH&T, one of Ohio’s largest professional engineering and survey firms. Sandy joined EMH&T in 1997, leading the company’s first Environmental Department. Today, she is responsible for overall company management and focuses on client relationships, business development, quality control, and employee engagement. She guides the activities of 330 professionals and technical personnel – including civil engineers, surveyors, construction managers, environmental scientists, and land planners. Her external leadership focus has allowed the company to be a part of many remarkable projects. From public infrastructure improvements and urban revitalization, to single- and multi-family developments, to design services for projects in healthcare, education, energy and data, Sandy has guided EMH&T to leadership in both the public and private sectors in a diverse array of markets.
Sandy lends her talent and leadership skills to a range of professional and civic organizations, including the YWCA of Columbus, Columbus Academy, The Nature Conservancy of Ohio, the Franklin County Rise Together Blueprint, the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, Mayor Ginther’s Columbus Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Committee, the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, and the Columbus Partnership. Among the many awards Sandy has received, she has twice been named a “Most Admired CEO” and a member of the “Power 100” by Columbus Business First and a “Progressive Woman” honoree by SmartBusiness Columbus. Sandy is also the 2020 recipient of Homeport’s Voice & Vision Award, a 2020 Laureate of the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame and a Columbus CEO 2020 CEO of the Year. EMH&T has been several times named a Best Place to Work and a Top Workplace under her leadership. Sandy earned her BA in Biology from the University of Delaware and her Masters in Environmental Science and Water Resources from Miami University.
Josh Knights, director of partnerships, Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University
Josh develops partnerships between Ohio State and major stakeholders, including businesses, government agencies, and local communities, to help solve global sustainability challenges. He works with colleagues across the university to leverage Ohio State’s core strengths in research, teaching, and using campus as a living laboratory in the fields of sustainable energy, circular economy, ecosystem health, smart and resilient communities, and sustainable resources. Josh believes in the power of collaboration to solve complex challenges facing society.
Prior to joining Ohio State in 2018, Josh held leadership positions at The Nature Conservancy, including Executive Director of the Ohio program and Director of Corporate Partnerships. During 17 years with the nonprofit, Josh helped raise public and private resources for conservation, forged alliances with the business and agricultural sectors, and led an expansion into clean energy policy. Early in his career, Josh worked on international trade policy in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the law firm White & Case. He holds Bachelor and Master degrees in international relations from The Johns Hopkins University. Josh lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Lara and two children, Will and Maya. In his spare time, he enjoys backpacking and kayaking.
This event’s California Continental Breakfast features freshly baked bagels, muffins, cranberry bread, and gluten-free zucchini bread. Yogurt and a fresh fruit salad will also be provided. Fresh Colombian coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated), hot tea, and assorted fruit juices will be served. Compostable plates, napkins and flatware utilized are made from renewable sources like corn, sugarcane, and potato starch.
In-person attendance will be limited based upon capacity and current Ohio State safety guidelines. Registration is required for all participants. Please only register for in-person attendance if you fully expect to attend. Masks are required from all event attendees at this event, regardless of one’s vaccination status, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page. All fees will be refunded if changes in COVID-19 restrictions prevent in-person attendance.
We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Cecil Okotah (firstname.lastname@example.org). Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.
This program will be recorded, edited, and posted to the EPN YouTube page by November 23, 2021.