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By Carlos Ochoa, Interim Director, University of Arkansas Office for Campus Sustainability
(This article appears in the April, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The University of Arkansas Office for Campus Sustainability is changing.  We have new members on board including an interim-director, five interns, and newly appointed executive director for Campus Sustainability, who will report directly to the provost.  Via Dave Newport’s blog on the Death of Campus Sustainability, we see a changing tide of sustainability in higher education across the nation.  Technologically, we’re seeing new social media platforms rising (think Klout, Kred, Pinterest, and Google+).  Change is scary but our office is using it to our advantage.

In March, our office held our first Google Hangout via Google+ to discuss Earth Day 2012 on college campuses across the US.  We openly invited people from every listserv and outlet we know to participate in a free videoconference on Google+.  Several sustainability folks in higher education participated in the event.  Emily Cumbie-Drake from Emory, Chris Remley from Carleton College, Steve Muzzy from Second Nature, Shannon Remley from the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center, and a RecycleMania intern and I represented the UA Office for Campus Sustainability.  There’s a slight learning curve that prevented several people from participating and that’s okay because there’s more to this story than new technological innovations.

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While the US government and the global community have been slow to address severe climate disruption, colleges and universities are stepping in to boldly slash their carbon emissions, research and develop new technologies, and prepare students to create a safer, clean energy economy.

According to a new annual report (PDF) released today by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the participating schools are working to cut a combined estimated 33+ million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.  The ACUPCC, launched in early 2007, is currently comprised of 677 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia – representing nearly six million students and about one third of the US higher education student population.

David Shi, President of Furman University and Co-Chair of the ACUPCC, noted, “Sustainability is one of the few enterprises that fosters collaboration among institutions.  That so many schools have embraced the climate commitment is unprecedented.  Such bold action on such a broad scale provides a model for the rest of society to emulate.”

Recently, more than 300,000 individuals called their Senators as part of a coordinated effort promoted by dozens of advocacy groups urging the US government to pass comprehensive climate legislation.  But the higher education sector is not waiting for uncertain government action.

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