Celebrating Sustainability Successes

Picture of students preparing for pumpkin carving

CSD brings fun fall activities to campus and kudos from national organization

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Building a foundation for a more sustainable world is a critical mission at Dickinson, where sustainable practices and education are infused into all aspects of campus life. And on Oct. 24, we'll pause to celebrate the fruits of our labors with special events on campus (see sidebar, below) and a national Webcast by one of Dickinson's own.

It's all part of Campus Sustainability Day, an annual event organized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recognizing the work of environmentally minded American students, faculty and staff. This year's celebration focuses on educating students for a changing climate; Provost and Dean Neil Weissman will help lead the conversation, which will be Webcast live on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. Those with Google+ or gmail accounts can take part in the conversation via a Google Hangout event; you also can view it live over the Internet or at an on-campus viewing party (details in sidebar).

Training tomorrow's sustainability leaders

Weissman was asked by the AASHE to speak about the need to educate for sustainability and the ways in which Dickinson has emerged, in recent years, as a recognized leader in sustainability education.

One of only five colleges in the country to achieve three designations as a leader in the field, Dickinson was given the highest possible score on The Princeton Review's Green Honor Roll, was awarded a gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), was recognized as an Overall College Sustainability Leader in the 2010 Green Report Car and was designated as a "Cool School" by Sierra magazine. The college also was named one of America's greenest colleges in Sierra's "Comprehensive Guide to the Most Eco-Enlightened U.S. Colleges."

These accolades reflect not only Dickinson's commitment to sustainable operations, but also the innovative ways that the college weaves sustainability education into a host of unique learning experiences, Weissman stresses.

"One leading scholar has decried the common phenomenon among American colleges and universities as 'green operations, brown curriculum.' We aspire to be a model of green operations, green curriculum," he explains, adding that the interrelationships between the issue's scientific, policy and values dimensions lend themselves well to the liberal-arts curriculum, with its emphasis on critical thinking and integrative learning and problem-solving.

"The Center for Sustainability Education, the Dickinson College Farm, the Treehouse, ALLARM and LEED-standard building are only a few examples of what we do to weave sustainability into every aspect of on-campus life."

With so much good work afoot, it's important for students to take time to reflect on how far we've come and how far we'll go, says CSE intern Maggie Rees '13, an environmental-studies major who helped organize the campus' Oct. 24 celebrations.

Campus Sustainability Day gives Dickinson the opportunity to showcase the many sustainability efforts on campus and help students learn how to become involved, she says, adding: "We also get a chance to directly support our own Provost Weissman by tuning in to his keynote broadcast."

Published October 23, 2012