The Path Towards a Sustainable Campus?

Higher Education’s Sustainability Imperative: How to Practically Respond?

Kevin J. Krizek, Dave Newport, James White, Alan R. Townsend in International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

 

What is the path for achieving a sustainable campus? The authors proposes that institutes of higher education go through four generalized phases on the path towards sustainability. They flesh out these four phases and provides scope as to what challenges institutions commonly face and the authors offer their perspectives based upon their experiences. The authors first note that the larger and more complex the organization, the greater the challenge in conceptualizing and implementing sustainability into the daily operations; highlighting that educational institutions differ greatly to corporate organizations due to difference in organizational structure, and a tradition steeped in hierarchy. They note that the challenges educational institutions face are as follows. First, the goals of an institute, which are predominantly, research and service, and a typical philosophy protecting tradition and academic freedom which hinders sweeping change. Second, competing interest groups within the institution that each have their own views, namely students, faculty, staff and alumni. Third, sprawling support services that promote horizontal organization, and is not aided by ‘cost cutting’ being a policy norm. The paper then presents the four phases observed. First, the grassroots phase, where campus leadership resists or is minimally responsive towards sustainability measures. This phase is exemplified by student interest groups and campus committees dedicated to address issues of sustainability from a bottom up approach. Second, the Executive Acceptance of the Business case for Sustainability. During this phase, campus leadership sees the positives that emerge from efficiency programs and possible campus name reputation improvement. Overall, this phase is beaten down by leadership which are less supportive of broad-based stakeholder inclusion that requires broader life cycle and full cost evaluations. Third, the Visionary Campus Leader. This phase is summed up by leadership using sustainability as a platform, who prioritizes sustainability efforts and is supportive of stakeholder engagement, using political power to maneuver through the multiple rigid structures within the institution, to achieve their goal. Fourth, a Fully Self-Actualized and Integrated Campus Community. The authors acknowledge that they have no experience with this phase but posit that in this phase, systems-thinking and interdisciplinary cooperation would be the central mission of all campus departments. They believe that universities such as, Leuphana University of Germany and the Gothenburg University of Sweden display traits of the fourth phase. The authors acknowledge that sustainability is an unavoidable mega-trend in institutes of higher learning, an almost physical arms race for status and prestige. Ultimately posing the question of how can institutes get the most out of this ongoing trend.

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Social Capital and Responses to Climate Change and Variability in Sub-Saharan Africa: Environmental Brown Bag 11/16/12

This Friday, on the 11/16/12, the Environmental Studies Program will have yet another Environmental Brown Bag Session.

As usual, it will take place in Morgan 309 at 12.00 noon.

 

The talk will be presented by Professor Camille Washington-Ottombre from Oberlin College, and she will be talking about Social Capital and Responses to Climate Change and Variability in Sub-Saharan Africa, as quoted from an abstract provided by her:

“Sub-Saharan Africans are often judged to be the “double losers” of climate change. They will first lose because they will deeply suffer from the consequences of an anthropogenic climate change without having emitted much greenhouse gases. According to most scientists, they will also lose because their limited access to physical and financial capital will not allow them to develop the technologies needed to adapt to climate change.

Instead of analyzing how doomed Sub-Saharan Africans are, I will argue in this talk that local communities all over Sub-Saharan Africa can mobilize their social capital to successfully respond to climate change and variability. Drawing from research in Kenya and Zambia, I will show how local communities build on a multi-layered social capital to cope and adapt to climate change and variability.”

 

 

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From Sb’s Desk: Food… Again?

Coming up this week:
Tuesday, Nov 6: GreenHouse is playing “Crude” in Mateer Auditorium to kick off the ‘Fuel’ film series, Tuesdays at 7pm.
(It’s 105 minutes, don’t worry too much about missing the election coverage)

Saturday, Nov 10 at 1pm: Bike Club will be playing Bike Polo in Taylor Parking Lot. Players should bring bikes and closed-toed shoes. Spectators are welcome. We will have chai tea, hot chocolate and popcorn with caramel sauce and spices for all.

 

Meat-Conscious Week is next week, Nov 12-16

Monday: Personal Meatless Monday. Table tens will be provided in Lowry about the global and personal benefits of eating less meat.

Tuesday: Film showing “American Meat” in Mateer Auditorium at 7pm. Sponsored by Chipotle, they will have some give-aways.

Wednesday: GreenHouse Mixer in Lowry 119 @9pm. A social event, with vegan snacks provided. All are welcome.

Thursday: Westminster Vegan Potluck in Mackey Hall. Come cook a vegan dish with Natalie from Local Roots at 4pm. The meal will start at 6pm. RSVP http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090E49AFAF23A13-november1 or email Beth Coetzee.

Friday: Eat Less Meat 101 is an open discussion in Lowry Pit at 4pm. We’ll be discussing the challenges and the easy parts of going vegetarian and vegan. Some experienced veg*s will be there to share their tips about getting started, and then making the commitment.

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Pinkwashing: The Environmental Side of “Think Pink”

With the recent efforts by the college to promote awareness of breast cancer through the “Think Pink” campaign, it would only be right to present the darker side of the link between pink and breast cancer; emphatically, summed up as Pinkwashing. “Pinkwashing is the co-optation of breast cancer symbolism by corporate actors who stand to profit from the use of breast cancer awareness imagery, including pink ribbons or simply the pastel pink which have become synonymous with breast cancer ‘‘awareness,’’ ‘‘the search for a cure,’’ or the ‘‘fight against breast cancer’’ in the United States” (Lubitow and Davis:2010). The authors through the article intend to highlight how; 1) coporerations control the public experience of breast cancer, with the intent of increasing profits and indirectly increasing the rates of breast cancer; 2) shifts the public focus away from the environmental factors that increase breast cancer incidence; 3) reimagine a women’s experience with breast cancer through a narrowly structured narrative. Below, I shall briefly summarize but I highly recommend you to read the article: Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit

Pinkwashing simply sums up cooperate efforts to position their goods and services as helpful towards the solving of breast cancer, where these “pink” goods and services in actuality consist of environmentally damaging chemicals which in turn affect the human person. Research indicates that a person’s immediate environment and the articles said person interact with have a huge impact on cancer incidence. In fact, many goods marketed as “pink” may contain chemicals linked with breast cancer. The authors argue that Pinkwashing refocuses societal discourse onto “the cure” for breast cancer rather than the causes, shifting probing eyes away from their products. The author’s also argue for the public experience of breast cancer, in the sense of Pink events following a certain narrative and idea, portraying women as strong women who fight against cancer. Whereby the experience of suffering from breast cancer lacks the personal element for the experience of suffering gets shaped by public discourse on how cancer suffers should behave, stemming from the continued existence of Pink events. Significantly, by linking consumerism with the “fight” against breast cancer, people are streamed into purchasing products in support of breast cancer suffers and research, under the false pretense that what these consumerist behaviors are sufficient in the engagement of the topic of breast cancer.

Thus, Pinkwashing shapes how we as people see breast cancer, with displaying our support through consuming Pink goods as playing our role as concerned members of society without actually discussing the root causes, mainly environmental in nature, that lead to breast cancer.

“Pink” in itself has pervaded all facets of societal life, like our little own campaign in Wooster, How effective was it in shaping consumption decisions of the students, faculty and staff of the college to purchase “pink” goods and think of breast cancer suffers in the proper “pink” vein?

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From Sb’s Desk: Wrapping up

What a great and productive week. Events of every shape and size were both exciting and informative. Tabling distributed a huge variety of information. If you would like to follow up about anything you’ve learned or want more information, please contact me.

The recycling competition has been postponed due to some miscommunication with custodial, but the prize for the winning dorm is still a pizza party with Donatos. There has been a great effort in increase awareness of recycling, thanks to the ‘memes’ from the Political Rhetoric communications class and their distribution of Gus Fuguitt’s new, easy to read recycling sign.

The new display case over the bulletin boards in front of Lowry is for our new WHT bus schedule and the bike club’s garage hours. Matt Policastro based his design of the bus schedule on the New York Metro’s style. It looks really great, check it out. We’ll be working on getting it posted online as well. The WHT bus is free with any COW card.
The new bike club garage is still looking for a few more managers before it can set daily hours of operation, so if you are interested please contact Anna Mudd.

 

This past Saturday was the Vegan Co-Op and the final event of Reduce Reuse Recycle week. Congratulations to the winners of the found-object art competition:

In second place: Celeste Tannenbaum won $25 to Pat Catan’s for her plastic flowers.

And in first place: Colin Bauman won $75 to Amazon.com for his trinket robot.

Lastly, the winner of the people’s choice, she got the most of the 85 votes cast on Sunday: Maria Janasz won a variety pack of cupcakes from Faithful Little Cupcake for her painting on compressed particle board.

 

Thank you to everyone who submitted an art piece, Amanda Priest for taking these lovely pictures, Campus Sustainability Committee for sponsoring this event, Susan Clayton for supplying the awards, and everyone who participated in this jam-packed week.

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Scot Center reception

As part of RRR week, we had a reception in the Scot Center featuring local food prepared by Campus Dining. The reception honored the winners of an environmental studies scholarship funded by ESG: seniors Erin Plews-Ogan and Erika Takeo, and juniors Rita Frost and Andrea Steiger. Congratulations to the winners, whose academic record and engagement with environmental issues got them $2500 each.

We also asked for suggestions about how to make Wooster more sustainable. Here’s what you said:
PLEASE eliminate plastic water bottles! (More refill stations)
More compost bins on campus
More local food in the dining halls (especially meat)
Reusable to-go boxes in Lowry
Bulk foods (no packaging)
Student food co-ops
Ability to use Flex dollars at the market for fresh, local produce

Hmmm, a definite “food” theme. Good suggestions. If you’re interested in what we’re already doing to promote sustainable dining, check out the dining services website.

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Reduce Reuse Recycle Week

Schedule of Events
Sunday, Oct 21
1-3:30pm: Walk in the Park, meet outside Lowry and walk to Christmas Run Park together and spend the afternoon enjoying the outdoors.
4-8pm: Kick-Off Art-Off, a found-object art competition sponsored by Campus Sustainability Committee. Gift card prizes for 1st and 2nd place. Submissions due by 4pm in Lowry Pit and will be on display till 8pm.
Monday, Oct 22: Reduce
Res.Hall Recycling Competition Begins
Lunch and dinner tabling in Lowry lobby to introduce the dorm recycling competition, the personal trash collection exercise, and clothing drive (donations accepted). A communications class will have a trash/recycling sculpture in the pit this afternoon.
7pm: Wooster Democratic Socialists are playing the film ‘Flow’ in Kauke Tower
7:30pm: Dr. John Stolz will be speaking on the ‘Impacts of Unconventional Shale Gas Drilling’ in Mateer Auditorium.
Tuesday, Oct 23: Reduce
Lunch and dinner tabling in Lowry lobby to encourage alternative forms of transportation. Bike club will be present to talk about rental policies, personal bike registration (bring your bike), and recruiting for garage managers. The WHT bus schedule, GreenHouse’s ride share website and Hertz rent-a-car will also be on display.
5-7:30pm: Lowry dinner will have local cheeses and bread.
Wednesday, Oct 24: Reuse, Campus Sustainability Day
Lunch and dinner tabling in Lowry lobby will have upcycling ideas, like turning old t-shirts into bags (bring your old Tshirts) and plastic bags into yarn. Clothing donations continue.
2-3:30pm: The keynote webinar for Campus Sustainability Day ‘Preparing Students for a Changing Climate’ will be played in the CORE in Andrews Library.
7pm: ESG environmental scholarship reception in Scot Center Lobby. Locally-sourced refreshments will be provided.
Thursday, Oct 25: Reuse
Res.Hall Recycling Competition Ends
2-5:30pm: Sustainability Crafts Day and Clothing Swap will be in Lowry Pit. Craft materials will be available to decorate water bottles, mugs, bags, and anything reusable. The donated clothing will be available for free to anyone.
Friday, Oct 26: Recycle
10am-4pm: Recycling Extravaganza on the Lowry front patio. We will have the waste-sorting challenge, a collection for plastic bag recycling, electronics recycling, odd-item and re-use awareness, and someone setting laptops to default double-sided printing.
Saturday, Oct 27: Recycle
6pm: Vegan CoOp is a bi-weekly free dinner for anyone, funded by GreenHouse. Help cooking (with Chef Rick) and cleaning is appreciated. Bring your own bowl. RSVP’s are expected on facebook or by emailing mcreach15@wooster.edu
Art competition and recycling competition winners will be announced at the dinner.
All of this can be found on the facebook page, www.facebook.com/rrrweek
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Towards Sustainability: The Role of Knowledge Generation

Transforming Knowledge for Sustainability: Towards Adaptive Academic Institutions

Thaddeus R. Miller, Tischa Muñoz-Erickson, Charles L. Redman in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

 

Some people believe that there is a gap in between the generation of knowledge by academia and the utilization of said knowledge by society. Miller argues this, where the methods by which academic institutions produce knowledge are currently insufficient in tackling a transition to sustainability. He states that the ability of academic institutions producing knowledge and or predictions about the future have a limited ability to adapt to changing societal conditions or lack the ability to frame problems which address the normative nature of sustainability issues. He challenges the current paradigm for the construction of knowledge through his redefinition of sustainability knowledge as such, it recognizes the complexity of system dynamics, is socially robust, acknowledge by multiple epistemic cultures, and incorporates normative criteria. Miller posits that current knowledge is too static to address the complexities of sustainability issues, and the focus should be on knowledge processing rather than knowledge transfer. An example he proposes is the question on “why do we care about climate change?” rather than addressing the dynamics that lead to climate change; he believes that such a question will lead to academics engaging in research that will allow populations to adapt to both climate change and vulnerability to current weather systems. Through the work he has engaged in, he theorizes five principles to generate knowledge around, namely, “awareness” of the problem and implications of alternate solutions, “stewardship” towards limited natural resources, “creativity” to discover technological solutions and new patterns of behavior, promote “institutions” that encourage learning and adaptation towards changing circumstances, and a sense of “justice” to maximize benefit for the widest range of citizens. To meet this aim, he proposes an adaptive cycle towards the production of sustainability knowledge in which reflexivity and epistemological pluralism are critical conditions that need to be met. The fleshes out this cycle and explains it to significant depth which is worth a look. To end, Miller implores academic institutions to break away from traditional, disciplinary structure of knowledge production and replace it with one that is adaptive towards societal needs and able to co-produce with society knowledge for sustainability.

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From Sb’s Desk: Recycling

Our recycling system is as easy as it can get, in my opinion. Blue bins are all over campus, you can request more from custodial, and everything goes in one bin. Let me give you a quick run-down, clear up any confusion, and make it easy to spread the word.

Our WM recycling facility takes on 5 types of materials: plastic, paper, cardboard, glass and metal. They sort this material into each category on site.
Food that damages the integrity of the material makes it NOT recyclable (like massive oil-stains). Liquids don’t destroy a material’s recyclability, and a little food residue is ok. Basically, you don’t have to wash it, but at least dump it out.

  • Plastics need to have the recycling logo somewhere and be numbered 1-7. Unnumbered plastics are not recyclable, like straws, grocery and ziplock bags, seals, banding. Lids, numbered or not, can be left on numbered vessels.
  • Sturdy paper and cardboard are all recyclable. Envelopes with plastic panes, waxed magazines and sealed cardboard are all acceptable. Tissues, tissue paper, paper towels and toilet paper are not.
  • Metal and glass can also have lids on them. Aluminum and tin cans are recyclable, as well as aluminum foil sheets and pie pans. Scrap metal isn’t, and can be brought to the service center. Glass vessels are recyclable; mirrors, light bulbs and glasses aren’t. You should donate your glasses anyway. Light bulbs can be given to custodians or brought to the service center for responsible disposal.

Styrofoam, even if numbered, is simply not recycled at our facilities. Plastic bags are not acceptable because they get caught in the sorting apparatus, but they can be recycled at the service center or Beuhler’s uptown. Any organic materials, cornstarch plastic or unrecyclable paper/cardboard can always be put in our compost bins outside of Lowry.

If given the choice, it is better to recycle than it is to compost because it is less expensive for the school. That does not mean you should ever put food in the recycling, but clean cornstarch ‘plastic’ clamshells, paper and cardboard is better disposed in recycling.

Now, I’ve mentioned scrap metal and plastic recycling in the Service center, but one step above recycle is reuse.
Few know that in the Copy Center, Joyce collects single-sided blank paper and turns them into free notepads. She is always collecting paper, and there is always a box of free notepads in front of her desk. Stop by anytime they are open.
For anyone who has taken ceramics, you know the importance of large plastic used to seal the moisture in to ceramics pieces. Walter Zurko is always collecting dry-cleaner plastic sheets for use in the ceramics studio.
Other items that are still usable and clean can always be donated to GoodWill (including tires) or posted on Tartan Traders, FreeCycle or Craig’s List.

Electronics and batteries should NEVER be thrown away. They always have some bad metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium) that can contaminate groundwater. They also always have some good stuff (copper, gold, plastic, glass, circuit chips) that can be reused or recycled.
E-Cycling bins are in every dorm and the Wired Scot, but can also be brought to Ken Fletcher at the Service Center. These brown bins take common items like cell phones, laptops, DVDs, tablets, calculators, GPS’s and video games. All other electronics can be brought to I.T. on the 4th floor of Morgan. They accept all electronics and recycle them responsibly.
Battery recycling should be in every laundry room on campus. Let your R.A. know if it’s not.

 

Get ready for RRR week after fall break! (Oct 21-27) I will post a schedule when it gets a little closer.

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Tree Campus

I was going to post about Wooster’s designation as a tree campus, but the Geology Department beat me to it. A good reminder that this designation is something the whole campus should appreciate.

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