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Eco-Rep peer education programs are becoming increasing popular at universities around the country. Usually, the goal of these programs is to teach students who live on campus about various issues related to sustainability and encourage them to adopt more sustainable living behaviors. This is accomplished by teaching the Eco-Reps about the various topics and training them to be effective communicators so that they can share the information they learn with their friends and neighbors in their residence hall and encourage behavior change.
The Eco-Rep program at NAU is modeled after some of the most successful and popular programs, such as the one at the University of Vermont. Most of the Eco-Reps at NAU do not have sustainability as a focus in their professional goals, but they have gained other valuable skills they know will help them in the future. The students who participate as Eco-Reps report they develop leadership and communication skills and learn a lot about sustainability and environmental issues. They have fun interacting with their peers and sharing their knowledge, and they like knowing they are making a difference.
We would love to have you join our team and help us make a difference, too! We are currently recruiting Eco-Reps for the 2013-14 year. The only requirement is that you must live in a residence hall as you must have access to the hall to complete the program requirements. Although applicants will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis, the priority deadline is September 18 so that participants don’t miss out on important trainings. Go to www.nau.edu/ecorep for additional information and the application.
Northern Arizona University’s Housing and Residence Life’s partnership with Mac-Gray Campus Solutions has resulted in NAU becoming become one of the first colleges in the state of Arizona and in the Southwest to have a carbon neutral laundry program. NAU is one of about 47 colleges and universities in 17 states that are participating in The “Lighten Our Load” initiative which provides for the installation of water and energy efficient laundry machines and a 100% offset of the calculated 787,655 pounds of carbon dioxide annually produced by NAU residents.
Mac-Gray Campus Solutions partners with Carbonfund.org for their offset projects using the guidelines set forth by the November 2008 ACUPCC Voluntary Carbon Offsets Protocol. To ensure compatibility with ACUPCC protocols, only projects that represent absolute and immediate GHG reductions are chosen for funding.
Housing and Residence Life has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability with ongoing facilities upgrades and retrofits and by providing residential programs that include the Eco-House Learning Community and Eco-Rep peer educators. “We have adopted sustainability as a department-wide value and are looking through that lens in everything that Housing and Residence Life does. Implementing a carbon neutral laundry program is yet another innovative strategy for us in our endeavor to make all of our practices more sustainable,” Scott Perelstein, Associate Director for Facilities.
“Northern Arizona University’s rating improved to STARS Gold after its second report was submitted in October 2012. Areas of strength in the latest report included the Co-Curricular
Education and Purchasing subcategories:
- The Community-Based Action Research Teams bring first-year students together with graduate students, faculty, and community partners to work on issues of sustainability and community organizing (ER 1)
- Since 2011, a new purchasing policy was adopted requiring that computers be purchased at EPEAT Gold or higher. A new vendor code of conduct was also adopted (OP 10, OP 13).”
Housing and Residence Life is still accepting applications for Eco-Reps with the priority deadline being THIS Friday, September 7 at 5 pm. We are looking for students who live on campus that want to make living sustainably a priority for themselves and others. As an Eco-Rep, you will receive ongoing training and education on a variety of environmental topics along with techniques on how to communicate effectively with your friends and neighbors in order to convince them to make changes in their attitudes and lifestyles. If you are looking for a rewarding student leadership position and plan to work in an environmentally focused field after graduation, don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to make a difference at NAU and develop skills that will make you stand out in today’s competitive job market! For more information on the position and how to apply, please go to www.nau.edu/ecorep.
NAU and Sustainability
Rod Parnell, SESES and Environmental Caucus
How are we doing compared to other institutions?
What could we be learning from other institutions?
A fall, 2010 sabbatical leave exploration of sustainability practices at selected peer institutions and national leaders in sustainability education and practice and its application to NAU
Objectives: discover effective practices by examining other campus’ sustainability
There aren’t a whole lot of other peer institutions because we are already doing many of the things that other universities are doing
NAU is one of the more highly regarded institutions in sustainability but we need to continue to move forward in that regardInstitutional support for highly regarded mixed environmental sciences/studies
How do we move from a problem-based environmental studies curriculum to a solutions-based curriculum?
We need solutions, adaptation, mitigation, rather than just identifying problems.
Development of comprehensive sustainability (education, scholarly activities, facilities management, etc.)
Campus as a living laboratory
Effective institutional structures that make these possible
How does a campus lead these activities to address these ideas?
Rod conducted campus visits at peer institutions, aspirant institutions and phone interviews
AESS, AASHE, NCSE, CEDD Meetings, Summer 2010 – Summer 2011
Components of successful university sustainability:
Infrastructure – how we walk the walk – pervasive institutional practices
Leadership – how the university promotes sustainability
Academics/Curriculum – how to they try to involve the students
Food, energy systems, waste streams, etc
Biomass – Biomass gasification plants
Plant at Middlebury College – uses woodchips (we have tons of these in N.AZ)
1) Biomass plant is in the direct center of campus
2) Met commitment of climate neutrality itself
They have a very active web presence for all of their activities
Well, we are doing all of these things, but we are not really pushing them and telling people what we are up to
Concept originated in environmental studies capstone course, then presented their proposal to their Board of Trustees (Board of Regents)
Economic argument – you will get a better return on your investment in generating your own energy than you will in the stock market – very powerful
It is amazingly productive to listen to what students have to say.
NAU doesn’t have a multi-billion $ endowment to make this possible.
Organic Farms are on the rise – at a much bigger scale than our SSLUG garden
LEED construction through a true attempt to recycle and reuse
Renovated buildings with specialized space added onto them – reuse and repurpose old buildings rather than knocking them down and replacing
Similar project, larger scale – one of our peer institutions
Renovating and repurposing existing buildings for LEED Platinum
Include the student knowledge and expertise that you have on campus
Lehigh University – $85 million LEED Gold building
Interdisciplinary learning collaborative spaces
Learning communities based around lab facilities
How does the administration move forward with concepts in sustainability?
Putting sustainability action into your long-term plans – how do we do that?
How are we going to reach climate neutrality by 2020?
• Engage students, faculty and staff in planning and decision-making process
o Student controlled sustainability fund
o Funding for student research
• Integration of separate sustainability efforts in operations/facilities with academic affairs and community
• Promoting faculty and student research and scholarly activity associated with sustainability
Mechanisms for sustainability leadership
Campus climate commitment and/or energy efficiency
Widely recognized campus point person (dean, director, or czarina of sustainability
Engagement of student, faculty, and staff in planning and decision-making
Office of Sustainability (usually coordinator level)
Programmatic initiatives (eg. general education or new degree programs)
**Global Learning Initiative – rolls through all levels of curriculum
Sustainability Leadership components – pyramid
Top: President / Provost
Sustainability Dean/Director/Czarina (we don’t have this)
Middle: Sustainability Council/Committee (our new “CoCoSus”)
à Environmental Caucus – no other campus in North America has one
Bottom: staff – faculty – students
So we see a grassroots effort where concepts from faculty, staff, students are voiced and vetted in Environmental Caucus, make recommendations for action to the Sustainability Committee and ideas make their way to the top
At NAU, our Provost is the Chair of the Sustainability Council, so there is a direct line of reporting to the President there.
Institutional Leadership Styles
Top-down authoritative style where changes are mandated
For example, Green Mountain College, ASU
Council-focused consensus building (representation)
From multiple academic nodes
For example, UVM and U. Montana
From a single academic node
For example, W. Washington U, Lehigh U, USU
On your own
For example, Brown University
Integrating all components: Middlebury College
NAU’s state of sustainability leadership
Office of sustainability
Strong academic programs with connections to sustainability
Components are important but interaction and effectiveness between them is more important
Student empowerment w/r to campus decision-making
Integration and cooperation of academic programs and leadership
Academics – Curriculum
Sustainability woven through student experience
Student access to decision-makers and decision-making
Promotion of faculty involvement sustainability
How can faculty enhance the student experience and networking?
Improving student curricular and co-curricular experience
The disciplines involve protecting the earth’s life support systems (hydrosphere, lithosphere, etc.) while promoting human well-being
Do we really want to be focusing GDP or are there other indices of societal success? Happiness!? Thomas Jefferson promoted the institute of happiness.
US is 42nd in happiness out of 180 countries – we are not a leader
Recognizing and understanding the complexities of human/environmental interactions
Providing solutions to grand challenges
Solutions-based more than problem-based
Approach through a deeper understanding of these components:
Environmental natural and social sciences, humanities
Convergence science – T shaped students – strong base and can reach across effectively in other areas
Sustainability studies as a form of convergence science
Feasible – natural and social sciences
Viable – engineering economics
What can those disciplines tell us about the desirability of the viability of these systems?
Feasibility: what can our natural systems handle?
Grand Challenges in Environmental Science by National Research Council 2001
1 – 8
Additional related challenges in engineering, social sciences, and humanities
Growth in academic programs in sustainability
National Council for Science and the Environment
2011 – 37 undergrad, 32 Masters (ex. MA in Sustainable Communities), 8 doctoral programs
How are theses programs being developed in challenging fiscal times?
To what degree are these new programs vs. rebranded programs?
Is evolution or a revolution going on?
Is environmental science evolving toward sustainability science?
It is a continuum – new curriculum – existing programs focusing anew – adding sustainability concepts to environmental science programs
Huntzinger et al 2007 – International Journal of Engineering Education
“Building In” – NAU’s level of sustainability curriculum reform – we are just below a level with a “Rebuild” or “Redesign” method where sustainability is wholly integrated and inherent in the curriculum
We are building it in, adapting our curriculum, not adding degree programs
How did we get here?
We have well established environmental programs and newer or revised sustainability programs
Why change the status quo at NAU?
Curricular need – the demand is out there for sustainability and environmental expertise
We are seeing a loss of faculty who are connected to this and focusing more on lecturers who are involved with this
Bunker Mentality developed through budget cuts
Less sharing of faculty across traditional academic units
Remapping our curriculum
Understanding and knowledge outcomes
Defined as characteristics for students to internalize
Develop ideas of personal place
Students work toward these goals, engage citizenship and stewardship
Broader focus on sustainability achieving societal needs:
Just and sustainable bicultural systems
Rebuild course syllabi with new learning outcomes, new techniques for assessment
Continue communicating and integration with other units undergoing curricular change
Student feedback and program assessment
Refine differentiation between science and studies
Co-curricular activities – tremendous range of opportunities to participate in these beyond the classroom
Other sponsors in community
Including national parks service
Seeking opportunities through academic recruitment
For further consideration
Think about institutional leadership with respect to effective integration
How to best utilize the interface between levels
Marketing and PR – faculty and staff publications
Academics – where do we house these programs?
Do we want to pursue sustainability studies degree program?
Facilities and operations
Trash and travel – biggest problem for us
Is it a good idea to take NAU foundation funds and looking at better infrastructure to provide major overhaul for carbon emissions
We need a demonstration facility for sustainable practices
*LEED platinum Center for SESES!
Where do you locate these interdisciplinary centers? It is not very integrated at any university in the country.