portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

actions & protests | sustainability

A Guide to Green Campuses: A resource round-up for picking an eco-friendly college

In recent years, college and university campuses have proven crucial leaders in the movement to make large-scale, resource-demanding institutions more environmentally friendly. Many have implemented projects that promote alternative energies, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability. But not everyone's jumped on the eco-bandwagon. So who's doing what? When picking the place you'll spend the next four or five years (or, for parents: the place you'll send your child and dollars), it helps to know which colleges are moving forward and which are slow to change. Here are a few questions to ask, and resources to help you answer them. ---- After starting in 1987 at Humboldt State University in California, 20 other schools signed on to the Graduate Pledge. Participation dwindled until Manchester College took over nationwide organizing duties in 1996-97. Since then, over 100 schools, from Eastern Mennonite University to Harvard University, have been added to the Graduation Pledge Alliance list.
Pinning on the Green Ribbon: can you carry it during, as well as after, college?
Pinning on the Green Ribbon: can you carry it during, as well as after, college?
A Guide to Green Campuses: A resource round-up for picking an eco-friendly college
—By Jenna Fisher, Utne.com

February 15, 2007 Issue

As the college acceptance letters start rolling in this February, there's a lot for parents and their college-bound kids to sort through when making the big decision of where to go. Here's one important question well worth adding to the list: Just how green are the schools' campuses?

In recent years, college and university campuses have proven crucial leaders in the movement to make large-scale, resource-demanding institutions more environmentally friendly. Many have implemented projects that promote alternative energies, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability. But not everyone's jumped on the eco-bandwagon. So who's doing what? When picking the place you'll spend the next four or five years (or, for parents: the place you'll send your child and dollars), it helps to know which colleges are moving forward and which are slow to change. Here are a few questions to ask, and resources to help you answer them.

Does the college make the sustainability grade?
The Sustainable Endowments Institute, a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors  link to rockpa.org, the institute evaluated 100 schools across the country on a litany of green factors, such as "climate change & energy" and "food & recycling." More than a few universities were given an "F" for a lack of public statements and for failing to make endowment holdings or shareholder voting records available.

Only four on the institute's roster received an A- (the highest grade earned).

Meanwhile, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education  http://www.aashe.org/resources/profiles/profiles.php (an association of US and Canadian colleges) is keeping a list of schools' "campus sustainability profiles." Check out the association's site for its annual Campus Sustainability Leadership Award winners, complete with links detailing the schools' sustainability projects.

Is the campus vegetarian friendly?

Scavenging for vegetarian items at a restaurant every so often is doable, but having to scrape together a hodgepodge of meatless items the entire four years at college can be down right difficult.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has compiled a list  link to www.peta.org / added a handful of colleges that had veggie-friendly college towns to make foraging for food off-campus a bit more fulfilling for the vegetarian belly.

Does the cafeteria food come shipped in from miles away or is it grown locally?

The Community Food Security Coalition's Farm To College website  http://www.farmtocollege.org provides a map and a list of schools that participate in programs that help facilitate a relationship between universities and local farms.

Taking the connection one step farther is New Farm's guide  link to newfarms.org, lists on-campus farms that provide hands-on, small-scale farming experience to undergraduate and graduate students (the site also provides information on programs for children and the general public).

How effective are college activist groups?

Another way to read the eco-friendly meter is to check out what student-activist groups are doing on campus.

Each year /Mother Jones  http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2006/09/extra_credit.html/ posts a round-up of college activism that merits note.

Another great resource is the Worldwatch Institute's list of Campus Greening Initiatives  http://www.worldwatch.org/taxonomy/term/458, which features efforts like Macalester's installation of green roofs on some buildings.

A group project called the Campus Climate Challenge  http://www.climatechallenge.org/ brings together more than 45 youth organizations to support a long-term movement to reduce pollution from colleges through upgrades and clean power initiatives.

The outfit's website links to a bevy of resources, with aids including everything from a map of schools that have groups participating in the challenge to a "Power Directory  link to climatechallenge.org with tips on how to figure out where your school's electricity comes from.

Go there College Sustainability Report Card  http://www.endowmentinstitute.org/sustainability/

Go there, too The "Big 10" College Cafeterias  http://www.peta.org/feat/bigten/

And there Farm to College  http://www.farmtocollege.org/

And there Extra Credit: Campus Activism 2006  http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/2006/09/extra_credit.html

Related Links:

New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability
 http://www.njheps.org/
College Campuses Are Going Green
 http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/282232_greencampus23.html
Green Colleges
 link to www.associatedcontent.com
Have Some Class: College Sustainability Report Card
 http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/1/26/183311/404

Related Links from the /Utne Reader/ Archives:

Class Dismissed
 http://www.utne.com/issues/2000_98/features/1123-1.html
Earth-Based Education
 http://www.utne.com/issues/2004_126/short_takes/11449-1.html

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor  link to www.utne.com



AND  http://www.graduationpledge.org/ :


Graduation Pledge at Goshen College

"I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."

After starting in 1987 at Humboldt State University in California, 20 other schools signed on to the Graduate Pledge. Participation dwindled until Manchester College took over nationwide organizing duties in 1996-97. Since then, over 100 schools, from Eastern Mennonite university to Harvard University, have been added to the Graduation Pledge Alliance list. Goshen College has participated since 1997.

The consequences of our occupations are profound. As we graduates make the transition from academia to the "real" world of working and paying bills, habits and patterns will be formed that will define our lives for many years. If we make a commitment now—while we are in the process of establishing our routines—to be socially responsible citizens and workers, we can build a strong moral foundation that will help guide our future decisions.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our livelihoods are sustainable. Pursuing financial stability is necessary, but we must do it in a manner that is both environmentally sound and socially just. Our jobs reflect our faith and values—and through them we have the power and ability to enact positive change. We can choose to work toward a world that is ecologically viable for the long term, and where wealth and power are distributed in such a way that everyone's essential needs are met.

The graduation pledge symbolizes a commitment to responsibility. It is a reminder for us to be aware of the implications of our life decisions. There is no accountability mechanism beyond individual effort to fulfill the pledge—it is up to those who sign the pledge to carry it out.

Deb Rhizal 2001 GC graduate and Graduation Pledge committee member at that time, says this pledge is vital and needs to be invigorated, resurfaced, and carried on. Amy Thut, 2000 GC signor, echoed that by saying "the pledge helped me pause and consider how I would carry my values and ideals into future work setting."

"The pledge helps educate and motivate students to contribute to a better world, and can be a focal point for other types of consciousness raising both on and off campus. Think of the impact if even a significant minority of the one million college graduates each year signed and carried out the Pledge." (www.peace.ca)

For more information check out their website at  http://www.graduationpledge.org/
For more information about the Graduation Pledge at Goshen College contact  paulds@goshen.edu