While there are many hopeful signs that academic disciplines
and institutions are responding to the environmental challenge,
a commitment to sustainability- in academic programs, operations
and outreach- is not present in most academic settings. ULSF has
established a set of strategic goals to help accelerate the transition
to sustainability through higher education. In the present climate,
we believe these are the critical leverage points for greening
the university. Unless we- and many others- move forward on these
fronts, higher education will change too little and too late.
These goals have emerged out of extensive discussions with David
Orr, Anthony Cortese, Julian Keniry, Richard Bunch and other leaders
in the education for sustainability movement. These goals have
also been informed by ULSF programmatic work with the Nathan Cummings
Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the V. Kann Rasmussen
A. Develop Sustainability Indicators for Higher Education. Many
academic institutions have focused on greening their campus operations.
A few have positioned themselves as the leading "green universities."
Yet, when a critical champion leaves, when major external funding
dries up, or when staff seek to move from rhetoric to reality,
these initiatives often reveal their lack of real support in the
institution. ULSF has received funding from the V. Kann Rasmussen
Foundation for an 18 month initiative to identify appropriate
indicators for sustainability in higher education and develop
an assessment instrument.
B. Identify and Support Lead Institutions. These are institutions
of higher education (colleges, universities, seminaries, schools
of theology) in which a "critical mass" of stakeholders
(faculty, administrators, staff, students, community, trustees)
take the "environmental challenge" seriously and are
changing academic programs and institutional operations to foster
a humane and sustainable future. These colleges and universities
are committed to the actions spelled out in the Talloires Declaration.
David Orr suggests that these institutions would:
- Set standards for ecological literacy for students, faculty,
- Power campus by current sunlight + efficiency;
- Eliminate waste in all forms - zero discharge campuses;
- Adopt green standards for architecture and landscaping
- Conduct research to support sustainable livelihoods, sustainable
communities and ecological economics.
- Link research and service to wider community efforts to establish
just and sustainable cities, bioregions and global economies.
Thus far, we have identified and worked intensively with a small
set of lead institutions.
Through recent ULSF activities we have identified a larger set
engaged in campus and community greening. Over the next two years
we shall expand the network of "lead institutions" that
ULSF works with to fully teach and embody humaneness and sustainability.
We shall also draw from the network of lead institutions critical
case studies on how these institutions have pursued the transformation
of academic programs and research, institutional operations, and
outreach. From these case studies we shall develop educational
and faculty development materials to assist other institutions.
C. Increase demand for sustainability in higher education from
key opinion leaders, employers, funding sources (foundations and
federal grants). As Anthony Cortese observes:
"Higher education is not likely to change its direction
far enough or fast enough without strong outside influence.
Strong, rapid and largely unprecedented efforts by all of higher
education's stakeholders are necessary to motivate the system
on a path to sustainability. Students, parents, prospective
employers, organizations funding research and education (government,
industry and foundations) and the public are all consumers of
higher education's services. If we are to encourage the educational
system to produce the environmentally aware professionals and
specialists needed to lead us on a sustainable path, the stakeholders
must work with the higher education system in creative ways
to encourage environmental education and research."
We propose to:
- Create national and regional fora to convene leaders from
Academia and external higher education stakeholders to explore
ways to motivate higher education to make EFS a priority.
In 1998-99, a primary focus will be the megaconference that
the President's Council on Sustainable Development is planning
for implementation of the PCSD recommendations.
- Develop and implement a national media strategy.
- Strategize to influence Federal and key states' education
and research funding to encourage EFS.
- Work with 5 or 6 universities that are located in communities
with a strong sustainable communities movement.
- Hold National Awards Ceremonies: ULSF and Renew America
to celebrate lead institutions and projects.
- Work with the major national higher education professional
D. Establish Regional Centers for faculty development to accelerate
this transition. We are working with various lead institutions
to establish locations which embody sustainability most fully,
and can provide education, demonstration and research services
to higher education. In addition, we are helping to develop specialized
centers to address critical dimensions of the transition to a
The functions of these regional centers are to provide:
- Models of ecologically sound living, emphasizing
- Renewable energy
- Sustainable agriculture and forestry, etc.
- Sustainable community analysis and work
- Faculty and Administration development
- Research on ecological design and on learning experience
- Sabbatic leave centers
- Regional analysis centers
- Integration of learning, living and operation
- Training grounds for university change specialists
- Networking and educational resource dissemination
E. Sponsor conferences, seminars, consultations and retreats
that bring these networks together to accelerate this transition.
ULSF will continue to provide and develop a range of resources
and opportunities for professional development. Since its founding,
ULSF has held the annual Environmental Literacy Institute (ELI),
a twelve-day interdisciplinary faculty development course that
brings together educators from around the world. Utilizing an
experiential, case-based format, the ELI links environmental literacy
concepts with the theory and practice of teaching, learning and
ULSF and the Center for Respect of Life and Environment (CRLE)
will be co-sponsoring a conference in October 1998 entitled "Sustainability
and the Liberal Arts." The workshop will provide a forum
for Associated Colleges of the South participants to further the
process of basic institutional transformation by considering ways
in which liberal arts colleges can continue to rethink their mission
in light of the need to educate our students for a sustainable
F. Continue to develop support services to assist faculty, students
and others, in identifying critical resources, networks, curriculum
materials, exemplary projects, employment and educational opportunities.
We will continue to disseminate critical publications such as
The Declaration and Earth Ethics as well as periodic papers and
other materials. Many of these materials will be available on
the ULSF/CRLE websites. We will also inform members of upcoming
events and resources in our bi-monthly listserv.
As the Secretariat for signatories to the Talloires Declaration,
ULSF will continue to encourage all members to endorse this historic
document and commit to institutional transformation for sustainability.
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