Words matter

A pop-up exhibit about sustainability terms visits MIT Sloan

November 22, 2013

Tughral Turab Ali, SF ’14, and Ondi Gottesman, a Cambridge resident, learn the Lexicon of Sustainability

Tughral Turab Ali, SF ’14, and Ondi Gottesman, a Cambridge resident, learn the Lexicon of Sustainability

Phrases such as “farm to table” and “grass fed” are tossed around frequently in the halls of MIT Sloan and on the green streets of Cambridge, Mass. But does anyone really understand what they are?

It’s that kind of language—the language of sustainability—that got a boost at MIT Sloan with a recent pop-up photo exhibit displayed in E62.

The Lexicon of Sustainability’s photo exhibit, which is curated by the Boston Museum of Science, featured large photos vividly illustrating definitions of terms such as “biodiversity,” “monoculture,” and “food miles.” The photos show people on farms, in community gardens, and in kitchen incubators, which are places where food entrepreneurs can launch retail and wholesale businesses.

The exhibit was sponsored by the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan and the MIT Food and Agriculture Collaborative.

Alex Borschow, MBA ’14, president of the MIT Food and Agriculture Collaborative, joined forces with the Museum of Science and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative staff to display the exhibit at the School. Sustainability is a common theme on campus, both in the classroom and in common spaces like Building E62, where a host of recycling options and other green features are on display, but not everyone understands the terms associated with it, Borschow said.

“I saw this as an opportunity to bring these thought-provoking and educational photo collages to MIT Sloan to capture people’s attention while teaching them some of the language of sustainability in an innovative way,” he said.

Borschow emphasized that sustainability is no longer just a “fad,” but is central to how business is done everywhere today. “People need to understand the terms and concepts associated with it in order to be prepared to lead businesses in the future and improve the world. Food and agriculture are as central to sustainability as anything.”

Although the exhibit at MIT Sloan has ended, the Lexicon of Sustainability website remains a dynamic work in progress, as it invites users to add their own sustainability terms and definitions.