Posts Tagged ‘Macalester College’

If your institution’s president is considering signing the ACUPCC, but is unsure if it’s an appropriate stance to take on behalf of the institution, below is a great line of reasoning from Macalester College’s president Brian Rosenberg.  The following is an excerpt from a 2009 essay titled “What Am I Doing Here” that ran in Inside Higher Ed:

I consider it my civic duty to vote and my right as an individual to contribute from time to time to the campaigns of particular candidates, but I am typically reluctant to make public endorsements. Similarly I do not believe that I should be staking out through my public remarks Macalester’s position on health care reform or cap and trade or military intervention in Afghanistan. These are however precisely the issues that all of you should be studying, arguing about, and taking action on through your lives as students, scholars, and global citizens. My job is to ensure that Macalester provides the environment within which you can do these things, rather than to delineate in each instance the proper “Macalester” stance.

On the other hand, I have spoken out both individually and on behalf of Macalester on issues including the importance of diversity to higher education and the necessity for all of us to practice and model environmental responsibility. For me, these issues are inseparable from and directly relevant to our work as a college and therefore ones that I can and should address. Some might contend that the latter topic is one that falls outside the standards I have defined; my response is that the reality of climate change has passed beyond the point of reasonable debate and has become an essential component of responsible citizenship, whose encouragement, at least at Macalester, lies at the core of our mission.

So we have taken such public actions as signing an amicus brief in the University of Michigan affirmative action case and becoming early signers of the College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. I would be prepared to contend that not to take stands on issues of this kind — stands whose particular form will rightly vary from institution to institution — would actually impair our ability to carry out our educational work and therefore that they are issues to which I should speak, both individually and as a representative of Macalester.

Since President Rosenberg signed the ACUPCC, taking a stand on behalf of the institution, Macalester has reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions by over 10,000 metric tons, and saved an estimated $250,000-$500,000.  See Macalester’s progress report for more details.


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Engaging students in the process of fulfilling the ACUPCC is a great way to get things done – completing greenhouse gas inventories, creating a climate action plan, implementing specific projects, and reporting on progress.  But more importantly, it provides a variety of excellent experiential education opportunities, exposing students processes and systems that will be in growing demand in workplace.

Students can gain marketable technical skills related to carbon accounting, reporting, renewable energy systems, green building, and more. There are also a whole host of relevant disciplines where students can earn valuable experience, such as economics and financing, law and policy, and strategic planning and management.  Maybe most important, it’s a chance to experience firsthand how organizations work, and the exciting challenges of managing complex change.

The Campus Climate Neutral project from the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS) has helped many schools engage students in climate action planning process, including UC Santa Barbara, Tulane, Bard, and the University of Arizona.  The Climate Corps Public Sector program from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is also training students and placing them in internships on campuses to conduct energy audits and make cost-saving recommendations for energy reductions.

There are hundreds of examples of ACUPCC institutions that have engaged students in this exciting process in one way or another.  Here are just a few:

Agnes Scott College: Student interns have been integrally involved in every stage of Agnes Scott’s climate neutrality efforts. A biology student conducted the GHG emissions inventory in 2008 and several students contributed to the CAP and are working on a broader sustainability plan.

Allegheny College: In Spring Semester 2007 students in an Environmental Science junior seminar conducted a preliminary inventory for 2000-2006. Two students from that class continued work during Summer, 2007.

Bergen Community College: Student researchers conducted the emissions inventory under the guidance and review of a sustainability officer.

Cabrillo College: Faculty and students involved in Career Work Experience Education (CWEE) and Energy Academy projects helped complete the GHG inventory. Partnerships among faculty, students, administration and staff greatly strengthened Cabrillo’s ability to conduct an emissions inventory. Highly technical, and creative, faculty-led student projects provided important GHG reduction strategies.

Colby-Sawyer College: During the 2006-2007 academic year a group of third-year students in the Environmental Studies Department’s “Community-Based Research Project” class formed GreenROUTES and recommended that their president sign the ACUPCC. In 2008-2009 another group of students revisited the GreenROUTES project with specific focus on the ACUPCC. These students completed the college’s first GHG Inventory, a comprehensive sustainability analysis using the STARS assessment tool (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) and developed a comprehensive set of policy recommendations to reduce the college’s carbon footprint. Both reports served as a foundation for the Climate Action Plan.

Community College of Denver: Following work done on emissions inventories in a class setting, the Auraria Higher Education Center hired a student from that class to conduct the emissions inventory for the institutions on the Auraria Campus. The student worked directly with AHEC’s Planning Department and Facilities Management to gather data related to the emissions of the campus. The student then analyzed the data and prepared the report. Professor Ramaswami, who leads UC Denver’s Sustainable Infrastructure program, was used as resource for the student in preparing the report.

Macalester College:  Students conducted a greenhouse gas emission inventory, analyzed findings and presented information to the college community and ACUPCC committee. The next year’s Environmental Studies senior seminar class made recommendations for the climate action plan.

Ohio University: Twelve graduate and undergraduate students contributed to compiling a GHG inventory for OU. Their work was the result of OU’s first “environmental studies learning seminar.” The class also created a “solutions team” to examine how possible alternatives to OU’s current facilities could reduce the school’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Portland Community College: A detailed GHG audit was completed by a Rock Creek Student Leadership Team under the guidance of the Sustainability Coordinator and the Director of Physical Plant.

Shoreline Community College: The GHG  inventory was completed as a class project which was supervised by Professor Tim Payne. The students were responsible for gathering copies of the billing statements each month, analyzing and calculating the informaiton needed for the report using the carbon calculator.  Staff then completed subsequent GHG inventories following the process developed by students.

Warren Wilson College: Student researchers are utilized as part of the Warren Wilson College work program, in which all resident students work 15 hours a week for the college in some form. One or more members of the Campus Greening Crew, a part of the Environmental Leadership Center at Warren Wilson, are responsible for compiling the Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the college each year (starting with a 2004-2005 school year report). Data is gathered from other work crews, staff, faculty, and from the natural gas and electricity bills. The process is organized and directed by the sustainability office staff.

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