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Sustainability in Higher Education

Sustainability in Higher Education: Stories and Strategies for Transformation

Peggy F. Barlett
Geoffrey W. Chase
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Sustainability in Higher Education
    Book Description:

    In colleges and universities across the United States, students, faculty, and staff are forging new paths to sustainability. From private liberal arts colleges to major research institutions to community colleges, sustainability concerns are being integrated into curricula, policies, and programs. New divisions, degree programs, and courses of study cross traditional disciplinary boundaries; Sustainability Councils become part of campus governance; and new sustainability issues link to historic social and educational missions. In this book, leaders from twenty-four colleges and universities offer their stories of institutional and personal transformation. These stories document both the power of leadership -- whether by college presidents, faculty, staff, or student activists -- and the potential for institutions to redefine themselves. Chapters recount, among other things, how inclusive campus governance helped mobilize students at the University of South Carolina; how a course at the Menominee Nation's tribal college linked sustainability and traditional knowledge; how the president of Furman University convinced a conservative campus community to make sustainability a strategic priority; how students at San Diego State University built sustainability into future governance while financing a LEED platinum-certified student center; and how sustainability transformed pedagogy in a lecture class at Penn State. As this book makes clear, there are many paths to sustainability in higher education. These stories offer a snapshot of what has been accomplished and a roadmap to what is possible.Colleges and Universities covered include Arizona State University • Central College, Iowa • College of the Menominee Nation, Wisconsin • Curriculum for the Bio-region Project, Pacific Northwest • Drury University, Missouri • Emory University, Georgia • Florida A&M University • Furman University, South Carolina • Green Mountain College, Vermont • Kap'olani Community College, Honolulu, Hawaii • Pennsylvania State University •San Diego State University • Santa Clara University, California • Slippery Rock State University, Pennsylvania • Spelman College, Georgia • Unity College, Maine • University of Hawaii--Manoa • University of Michigan • University of South Carolina • University of South Florida • University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh • Warren Wilson College, North Carolina • Yale University

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31668-2
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-i)
  2. Series Page
    (pp. ii-iv)
  3. Dedication
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Geoffrey W. Chase and Peggy F. Barlett

    Almost ten years ago, we publishedSustainability on Campus: Stories and Strategies for Change(Barlett and Chase 2004) to capture what we saw as some of the significant first steps and pilot projects around sustainability on college and university campuses. These efforts had begun to emerge as faculty, staff, administrators, and students began to embrace the idea that higher education has a key role to play in the move toward a more sustainable world. Through the research conducted on campuses, stewardship of operations, engagement with local communities, and especially through curriculum change efforts, these authors shared stories of how colleges...

  7. Part I Leadership and Commitment

    • 1 Drury University: A Story of Personal and Institutional Transformation
      (pp. 21-36)
      Wendy B. Anderson

      Drury University, a small university grounded in the liberal arts tradition with several professional schools, serves 1,650 traditional students in the residential “Drury College” and 2,500 students through continuing studies and graduate programs. Embedded in the Ozark Mountain region of southern Missouri, Drury’s main campus includes 80 shady acres that are poised between the two historic centers of Springfield on the ridge overlooking Jordan Creek, which flows through a revitalized downtown.

      Within each institution that is on the journey toward sustainability are individuals whose stories are intricately woven into the institution’s story of transformation. What follows is a story of...

    • 2 Building a Decentralized, Grassroots, Campus Sustainability Organization and Community: The Transformational Impact of Green Values
      (pp. 37-48)
      David Whiteman

      The University of South Carolina, chartered in 1801, is a comprehensive, urban research university with over 29,500 students in 324 degree programs. Located two blocks from the State House in downtown Columbia, the 570-acre campus provides the perfect laboratory for experimenting with social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

      As I left the campus early one evening, I peered through the glass walls separating the rooms in the LEED-certified Learning Center in which I work: in one room a yoga class, in another a meeting of our campus student environmental group, in a third a presentation on solar energy, and in our...

    • 3 Science and Technology Leaders for a Sustainable Future
      (pp. 49-56)
      Richard D. Schulterbrandt Gragg III, LaRae Donnellan, Ryan Mitchell, Clayton J. Clark II and Viniece Jennings

      Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Florida A&M University, or FAMU), an 1890 land-grant institution of 12,000 students, is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, resolution of complex issues, and the empowerment of citizens and communities. The main campus is located in Tallahassee midway between Jacksonville and Pensacola; the College of Law is in Orlando.

      Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been nationally ranked among the top twenty academic institutions awarding science and engineering degrees to African Americans from 2006 to 2010, (Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Expansion of the Science and Engineering Workforce Pipeline et al. 2011), and was among...

    • 4 Bowling Gutter Balls: My First Year as the Energy Conservation Committee Chair
      (pp. 57-64)
      Julie Snow

      Opened in 1889 as a normal school limited to teacher education, Slippery Rock University is now one of fourteen state schools in Pennsylvania designed to provide Pennsylvania residents with an affordable option for college. Enrolling 8,800 students, Slippery Rock is located in rural western Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh.

      Have you ever gone bowling with small children and used bumper pads to keep their balls out of the gutter? You’d know then, no matter how erratically they bowl, the possibility of a strike always exists. That was how I lived my academic life for a long time, until I decided...

  8. Part II Curricular Transformation

    • 5 Curriculum for the Bioregion: Putting Communities and Ideas in Place
      (pp. 67-80)
      Jean MacGregor

      The Curriculum for the Bioregion is an initiative of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, a public service center of The Evergreen State College. Established in 1985, the Washington Center collaborates with colleges and universities in Washington State and beyond to strengthen teaching, learning, and educational reform.

      This is the story of building Curriculum for the Bioregion, a regional sustainability-across-the-curriculum initiative. In seven years, it has grown to involve fifty colleges and universities and close to a thousand faculty and staff members and their students, and equally important, dozens of community experts in agencies, non-governmental organizations,...

    • 6 From Environmental Advocates to Sustainability Entrepreneurs: Rethinking a Sustainability-Focused General Education Program
      (pp. 81-88)
      William Throop

      Green Mountain College is a private liberal arts college founded in Poultney, Vermont, in 1834. The college takes social and environmental sustainability as themes that unify the curriculum and define the campus culture. All students take part in the college’s signature Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA) curriculum.

      When we started re-envisioning Green Mountain College, we had little idea where it would lead. In 1995, a group of faculty and a new president decided to create coherence in a liberal arts education by taking the natural and social environment as the unifying theme for the curriculum and the co-curriculum. Soon thereafter the...

    • 7 From Soybeans and Silos to the Prairie Project: The Journey to Restorative Global Sustainability Education at Central College
      (pp. 89-96)
      Jim Zaffiro

      Central College is a private liberal arts college enrolling 1,650 students drawn mainly from across Iowa. Located in Pella, Iowa, (population 10,000), the campus is about 45 minutes south of Des Moines, in corn and soybean country.

      Central College has been native to central Iowa since 1853, born as a tiny, church-affiliated school in Straw Town (now Pella), where the prairie grasses were said to be so high that one could barely see a rider sitting on a horse above them. Things changed rapidly. More and more settlers came to farm these rich acres and soon the old name—as well...

    • 8 Take-Home Messages that Transform Individuals and Institutions: The Student Leaders on Global Environmental Issues Program
      (pp. 97-104)
      John Cusick

      Manoa is the flagship campus of the University of Hawai‘i system with 20,000 students, and it holds the distinction of being a land-, sea-, and space-grant research institution. The East–West Center, established in 1960 by the US Congress, promotes better relations and understanding among the people of the Asia Pacific region.

      The state of Hawai‘i imports fossil fuels to meet over 90 percent of energy needs. While water tables drop on Oahu, due in part to increasing urbanization, agricultural lands are rezoned and paved for housing subdivisions. Estimates are that between several days’ to two weeks’ worth of food...

    • 9 Learning Sustainability in a Tribal College Context
      (pp. 105-114)
      William Van Lopik

      The College of Menominee Nation is a tribal college in northeast Wisconsin. It was established in 1993 and chartered by the Menominee Indian Tribe. There are 720 students who attend either the Keshena campus located on the Menominee Indian Reservation or Green Bay campus located on the Oneida Indian Reservation.

      When students enter my classroom at the beginning of the semester they always skeptically ask me: “What kind of job can I get learning about sustainable development?” I know they ask me this question because they have never seen a job in the classified ads that calls for a person...

  9. Part III Defining the Paradigm for Change

    • 10 Driving Transformative Change by Empowering Student Sustainability Leaders at the University of Michigan
      (pp. 117-128)
      Mike Shriberg, Andrew J. Horning, Katherine Lund, John Callewaert and Donald Scavia

      The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M) is a large public university with a total campus population of over 80,000, including over 40,000 students. Founded in 1817, U-M’s campus encompasses 3,153 acres with 571 major buildings. U-M’s annual research expenditures top $1.25 billion, largest among public institutions.

      At the University of Michigan, we employ an innovative strategy that directly involves students in fostering institutional change for sustainability. This chapter contains three interrelated examples of how the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute channels student energy and creativity to effect sustainability transformations on campus, while simultaneously cultivating leadership and change management skills among our...

    • 11 Metabolism and Resiliency: Key Concepts for Catalyzing Transformational Change
      (pp. 129-140)
      E. Christian Wells

      The University of South Florida is a large, metropolitan, research institution, situated alongside Tampa Bay—Florida’s largest open-water estuary. A relatively young institution (established 1956), the school has grown to become the eighth largest public university in the United States, enrolling nearly 50,000 students annually, most commuters from surrounding neighborhoods.

      In March of 2008, the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card informed my university, the University of South Florida (USF), that we had earned a D+ in our efforts to “go green.” Within a month, our president signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. In less than...

    • 12 Reimagining Professional Development: Collaborative Circles for Creative Change
      (pp. 141-150)
      Krista Hiser

      On the slopes of Diamond Head, just minutes from Waikiki Beach, Kapi‘olani Community College is home to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and programs in business, hospitality, health, legal education, and arts and sciences. The college has over 9,000 students representing Hawai‘i’s diverse resident population, international students, and students from the continental United States.

      First came the freeze on faculty travel. Prior to 2008, Kapi‘olani Community College faculty could access a reasonably generous fund to support its development and professional leadership through attendance at conferences, mostly in the continental United States. As a community college in Hawai‘i, maintaining a...

  10. Part IV Institutional Mission and the Culture of Sustainability

    • 13 The Journey to Green: Becoming Sustainable Spelman
      (pp. 153-162)
      Beverly Daniel Tatum

      Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a private historically black college for women, known for academic excellence, leadership development, and community service. Located in an enclosed park-like setting, the 39-acre campus of 2,100 students is an urban oasis of historic buildings and flowering trees, just ten minutes from downtown Atlanta.

      Spelman College, a historically black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures...

    • 14 Weaving a Culture of Sustainability: Santa Clara University’s Evolving Story
      (pp. 163-174)
      Sherry Booth, Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner, Leslie Gray and Amy Shachter

      Santa Clara University is a leading Jesuit, Catholic institution that strives to cultivate knowledge and faith to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest institution of higher learning. The university has over 8,000 students and is located in Silicon Valley.

      Implementing a single component of sustainability on a college campus can happen easily and quickly—and can be the work of one or two interested individuals—but creating a culture of sustainability occurs only over a long period of time and requires the commitment of many members of the campus community....

    • 15 Sustainability as Leadership Ethos
      (pp. 175-186)
      Margo Flood

      Warren Wilson College, located near Asheville, North Carolina, is a private liberal arts college with a distinctive learning “Triad” comprising academics, work, and service. The 1,100-acre campus, with working farm and garden, inspires and engages 950 undergraduates and its low-residency MFA students in purposeful inquiry.

      With a fresh commitment to sustainability as the framework for institutional decision making, Warren Wilson College president Sandy Pfeiffer and his leadership team—the President’s Advisory Council—departed for their summer retreat in 2007. Along with flip charts, tape, and pens they carried three baseball caps labeled “economic,” “environment,” and “community” to focus their discussion....

    • 16 Sustainability as Turnaround: The Case of Unity College
      (pp. 187-202)
      Mitchell Thomashow

      Unity College, founded in 1965, is a small, environmental liberal arts college in Maine. Its curricular emphasis is science, service, and sustainability, with a strong field-based, experiential approach to learning. Its small student body (570), relatively compact size (90 acres), and rural location provide outstanding opportunities for sustainability initiatives, especially those involving alternative energy and organic agriculture.

      When I arrived at Unity College in July 2006 as the new president, I was green in two ways. I was “green” as in naive—an inexperienced, “newbie” college president. I had never worked in an undergraduate setting, or with a board of...

    • 17 Transformational Leadership at Furman University: Tradeoffs and Transitions
      (pp. 203-218)
      Angela C. Halfacre

      Furman University, founded in 1826, is one of the United States’ leading private liberal arts colleges. Furman’s campus in Greenville, South Carolina, is nationally acclaimed for its beauty and the university’s commitment to sustainability and community partnerships. The residential student body of 2,700 comes from all over the nation and around the world.

      When David E. Shi was inaugurated as Furman University’s tenth president in 1994, he brought with him from Davidson College a career-long commitment to environmental stewardship. A cultural historian by training, he had written an influential book in 1985 titledThe Simple Life: Plain Living and High....

  11. Part V Accountability

    • 18 Sustainability Strategic Planning: Establishing Accountability in a World of Distractions
      (pp. 221-228)
      Julie Newman

      Yale University, founded in 1701, is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The campus is located in New Haven, Connecticut, just minutes from Long Island Sound and comprises approximately 400 buildings across 330 acres on the Central Campus. Yale currently supports a community of 11,600 undergraduate and graduate students.

      I believe that the field of sustainability in higher education is still at a fragile stage in that we live in a world of competing priorities, paradoxes, distractions, and short attention spans, combined with the fear of the science of climate change. It is our responsibility, as...

    • 19 Transforming the Silos: Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability
      (pp. 229-240)
      Charles L. Redman

      From its roots as a Territorial Normal School established in 1885 to train teachers, Arizona State University in Tempe developed into a comprehensive metropolitan research university for the twenty-first century. More than 72,000 students from all 50 states and some 120 countries enroll at ASU each year.

      In January 2007, Arizona State University (ASU) initiated its School of Sustainability (SOS) by offering Master’s and PhD degrees, and one year later it began its undergraduate program that would lead to BA and BS degrees in Sustainability. Looking back, this was a very special moment in the development of ASU and perhaps...

    • 20 Fair Trade, Social Justice, and Campus Sustainability at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
      (pp. 241-248)
      James W. Feldman and David Barnhill

      The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has been educating the residents of northeastern Wisconsin since 1871. Approximately 13,500 students currently attend the university, which lies on a 174-acre urban campus located along the shore of the Fox River.

      In spring 2011, ten students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UW Oshkosh) traveled to Guatemala on an alternative spring break trip where they learned first-hand how their morning coffee is grown and marketed. The students spoke with growers who had withdrawn from the Fair Trade movement—an alternative market that pledges a living wage to producers of commodities such as coffee, tea,...

    • 21 Creating and Sustaining a Student Movement at San Diego State University
      (pp. 249-258)
      Grant A. Mack

      San Diego State University is an urban, hilltop university of 283 acres that enrolls roughly 30,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The university is one of three research-focused Hispanic-serving institutions in the United States and has no ethnic majority population.

      As a freshman entering San Diego State University (SDSU) in fall 2007, I never realized how involved I would become in university activities, let alone the influence I would have on the entire campus community. This is the story of how I, along with many other students and the Associated Students at SDSU, came to embrace sustainability concepts through various...

  12. Part VI Professional and Personal Transformation

    • 22 Living the Questions: Contemplative and Reflective Practices in Sustainability Education
      (pp. 261-278)
      Marie Eaton, Kate Davies, Michael Gillespie, Karen Harding and Sharon Daloz Parks

      As college and university teachers across a broad array of disciplines, we have come to believe that the scale of the global environmental crisis poses unprecedented challenges to the future well-being of the planet and all humankind. We also believe that this crisis challenges underlying values and beliefs that have shaped the dominant Western culture for the past two-and-a-half thousand years, calling us to rethink how we might best respond. We believe that, as educators, we have a vital role to play in facilitating the transition toward a more sustainable society and, further, that contemplative and reflective practices are important...

    • 23 Cultivating Pedagogies of Resilience: Practicing Place, Expanding Perspectives, Sustaining Life
      (pp. 279-290)
      Bobbi Patterson

      A private, medium-sized research university, Emory University enrolls 6,000 graduate and professional students and 7,000 undergraduates in the liberal arts and business. Half of the main Atlanta campus is preserved forest, though located twenty minutes from downtown Atlanta in a mixed neighborhood of historic homes, suburban shopping malls, and dense urban corridors.

      Some consider me an outdoor junkie. Time in wilderness, whether hiking, kayaking or camping, not only wakens me to the power of places but also nourishes my commitment to sustainability. None of my Religion Department colleagues flinched when I asked to take our long untaught course, Religion and...

    • 24 Awakening to the Hero’s Journey in Teaching and Learning
      (pp. 291-302)
      Christopher Uhl and Greg Lankenau

      The Pennsylvania State University is the land grant school for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PSU’s main campus has an enrollment of 45,000 students and is situated in a fertile limestone valley, surrounded by forest-covered sandstone ridges. The campus, covering almost 300 acres, is located in State College, a town of about 60,000 people.

      The year was 1982. I (Chris Uhl) had just accepted a faculty position at Pennsylvania State University (often called Penn State, or PSU) in the Biology Department.¹ Shortly after arriving on campus, I was informed by my chair that I would be teaching Environmental Science (BiSci 3...

  13. About the Contributors
    (pp. 303-310)
  14. Index
    (pp. 311-316)
  15. Series List
    (pp. 317-320)