Wind | January 14, 2009 |
Schools Practice What They Teach on Sustainability
Over the past few years, from daycare centers to universities, schools have implemented green practices. From composting and recycling programs, to offering more local and organic foods, to even adding a few classes focused on the environment. Now, schools are upping their green bona fides by offering new formal degree programs, building green and offering real-world perspective to green-minded students, and creating innovative sustainability programs.
Ithaca College is in the process of developing both a major and minor in sustainability with grant assistance from a local bank. The first master’s in sustainability candidate at Arizona State graduated in December.
Community Colleges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are offering free classes and job training in sustainability programs for works who have been laid off as a result of the current economic crisis.
For a comprehensive list of sustainabiity degrees, go here.
LSU (Louisiana State University) has made sustainability a full time job by hiring a Campus Sustainability Coordinator to implement eco-friendly programs for students and faculty.
Stanford is energizing its very own energy research establishment, the Precourt Institute for Energy, to develop more efficient solar technology. Alumni, local start-ups and various academic departments are collaborating like mad scientists to bring solar infrastructure to the masses.
A joint effort by the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan and the school’s Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health have launched a sustainability website where students and faculty can review information posted by student organizations and campus research projects that pertain to campus recycling, local conservation and all-things green.
The State University of New York at Canton has implemented an eco and student friendly four day week to reduce operations of educational and business offices saving energy, commutes, and maybe even the occurrence of students cutting class.
Illinois State’s Center for Renewable Energy, the campus center for education and collaboration between university departments and interested students on clean energy technologies, has opened.
Saint Xavier University earned a gold certification for their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) residence hall. The building spans more than 36,000 square feet and offers some passive ventilation, and a solar reflective roof.
What does all of this sustainable schooling mean? For one, offering sustainability degrees provides a competitive edge for select schools at least until sustainability degrees programs become as ubiquitous as law degrees. Building sustainability and implementing recycling, energy saving and other green programs, means less operational expenses for schools while providing examples for students. Innovation sets schools apart from others, but also places that school in the spotlight for future grants, investor dollars, and other financial and popular benefits.
The common thread in each of these efforts is furthering sustainability for new generations of students who will lead the country’s and world’s efforts in counteracting climate change and other environmental damage. The Center for Ecoliteracy, an organization dedicated to launching sustainable programs in schools notes, "the values, habits, and worldviews of individuals are often set, and hard to change, by the time that people become adults. Society gives schools the responsibility for passing on cultural values" and those values are living in harmony with the environment, which is best achieved through innovation and experimentation, i.e. education.
Compiled from information provided by the AASHE