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Division Spotlight: Brian Fisher

Posted by: Jennifer Stevens | February 15, 2013 | No Comment |


Brian Fisher, Sustainability

Briefly describe your role.

Interesting question given the multiplicity and scale of roles, but as Director of Sustainability I teach, research, and oversee the operational management of sustainability at the College. I also see my role as mentoring others in what could be called “change agency” or as I like to think: Bushido Sustainability. More deeply, I see my role –really as a responsibility, to contribute to the societal transformation of HOW we think about our systems and ourselves.

What is the function of your department?

To establish sustainability as the foundation for the College and more broadly within higher education

How long have you been working at the College?

4 years

What brought you to the College?

This will probably always be an enigmatic question. Pragmatically, I wanted to get back to the east coast where my family resides, and Charleston offered a high quality of life for my immediate family. Maybe it was fate though, because when I first met my wife—many years ago, we thought about moving to Charleston, where I would practice law, and she would finish her degree at the College. We went on a trip around the world instead. That trip started at the Grand Canyon, so when we married, we did so where our journey began—at the lip of the Grand Canyon. But, our journey together really began with those crazy initial plans to move to Charleston (from Pittsburgh). I love those synergistic connections, and ending up in Charleston at the College 10 years later is not a coincidence lost on either of us.

What do you like most about your job?

My expansive role as professor and director because I engage with all aspects of campus life and its wonderful people. Personally, I like that I engage and practice my values every day. It’s a very powerful alignment of interests, particularly since I gave up a lucrative legal career precisely because my job and personal life (values) were hopelessly misaligned. This provides immense insight and perspective today.

What are some of your favorite memories from the College?

My first graduation ceremony in Cistern Yard as a professor. Walking through Randolph Hall and along the stage of graduates was a surreal and profound experience–knowing that I had contributed to their success (albeit in some small way). I realized that this represents why we all do what we do here. But my fondest memory is the active engagement with students and colleagues in what is an ongoing reshaping of thought, ideas, values, and vision.  It is a powerful process and I am blessed to participate in that evolution every day. Hopefully, I contribute as much as I receive.

What are your hobbies and interests?

Maintaining my sanity has to be a hobby for me! To that end, house improvement projects, biking, kayaking, and any sport I can find time for, playing with my kids and living sustainably (however I define it that day!)

What is something that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

A couple things. I have four kids (age five and under) is probably a big one. Or that I backpacked around the world with my wife for almost two years before getting my PhD—and wrote a book about it. Or that I rebuilt a 1972 VW Westfalia (including the entire engine) myself and traveled around the US in it for four months to bike, contemplate life, and write. Or that I plan on riding my bike across the country in the next few years. Now, my DREAM is to rebuild another VW bus and ride my bike across the country with my family (in the rebuilt bus) to raise awareness on sustainability!

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