Dickinson Earns Climate Leadership Award for Institutional Excellence
November 4, 2010
Neil Leary (right), director for the Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) at Dickinson, accepts climate leadership award from Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature.
Dickinson College received an award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership from Second Nature at the fourth annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) summit in Denver, Co.
With the climate leadership award—given to only 12 colleges and universities—Second Nature recognized Dickinson’s comprehensive plan to meet the goals of its climate action plan, which calls for the campus to reduce its net emissions of greenhouse gases and be climate neutral by 2020. Second Nature also singled out Dickinson for its three-year project to train faculty from Dickinson and 10 other colleges and universities to teach about climate change.
Neil Leary, director for the Center for Sustainability Education (CSE) at Dickinson, accepted the award on behalf of the college at an Oct. 12 ceremony in Denver. Dickinson was one of two colleges in the private baccalaureate categoryto receive the award; Warren Wilson College was the other recipient.
Second Nature, a Boston-based national nonprofit organization, works with colleges and universities to create a healthy world now and in the future and is the primary supporting organization of the ACUPCC. The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.
In addition to excellent climate action at the institution, Dickinson is contributing to national climate leadership by the higher education sector as a whole through its participation in the ACUPCC. By joining more than 670 other colleges and universities nationwide in pledging to pursue net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, while preparing students to help the rest of society to do the same, Dickinson serves as a role model and provides leadership by example for other sectors.
Dickinson’s efforts to become climate neutral include the conversion of the central energy plant boilers to burn “Viesel,” a net-zero carbon biofuel made from filtered waste vegetable oil. The college purchases renewable wind energy credits equivalent to 100 percent of annual electricity consumption and has installed 114 kilowatts of solar photovoltaics with student assistance and produces 50 to 100 gallons of biodiesel a week from waste vegetable oil in the student-run biodiesel shop.
In 2009, Dickinson was awarded a grant from NASA to lead a three-year project that will assist faculty from Dickinson and four of its community college partners to develop courses and teaching materials on climate change causes, consequences and policy responses. The project is part of a broader initiative to integrate sustainability throughout the Dickinson curriculum, facilitated by the CSE. The center also participates in a national project of the National Council for Science and the Environment that is developing materials for teaching about climate change and in a Pennsylvania working group to plan for climate change adaptation.
Dickinson offers courses on climate change and has hosted numerous climate-change events, including Focus the Nation, 350.org Day of Action, Climate Conversations Week, and COP15 at Dickinson. Fifteen students attended COP15, a United Nations climate change conference, as part of a yearlong course “From Kyoto to Copenhagen,” where they interviewed conference delegates for a research project. The students shared their work and experience through organized campus and community events, presented a paper at a Penn State University conference, and participated in a national webinar hosted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Launched in early 2007, the ACUPCC is comprised of 674 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing nearly six million students and about one third of the U.S. higher education student population.