How are college campuses becoming more sustainable?
- Using green energy sources
- Encouraging carpooling
- Offering sustainability courses
- Implementing sustainability in different subjects
In the past several years, international colleges in the Philippines and in other parts of the world have focused their efforts to curb the issues of energy consumption, environmental crises, climate change, and natural resource depletion.
College and university campuses have slowly become testing grounds for new ideas about how the natural resources of the planet can be better used, for new initiatives on how to build a more sustainable future, and for new approaches to living. This development has created new opportunities for constructive social networking, opened up new career paths in terms of science, business, and art, and created new ways for interdisciplinary study and research.
The urgency regarding sustainability and the increased concern about environmental issues have resulted in academic institutions coming together in many, important ways. Here are four ways college campuses are becoming more sustainable:
Using Green Energy Sources
Universities and colleges are taking major steps to switch to more sustainable sources of energy, both behind the scenes and sometimes even quite publicly. For older academic institutions, this can mean everything from turning to cleaner natural gas and coal for their power needs or phasing out coal-burning facilities altogether.
Many college campuses are now also integrating solar and wind energy into their power grids. A college in the United States was recently recognized by the EPA through their “Green Power Partnership” program largely because of a contract to purchase electricity generated by burning gases produced in landfills.
In addition, working with renewable energy allows colleges to save on power and not have to fully rely on power companies.
Dedicated fast-lanes for carpoolers are now the norm, especially in large urban areas. For this reason, carpooling has been high on the list of objectives on college campuses for a long time now.
Universities and colleges, especially those with large campuses, have been working hard to cut down the number of students who drive alone to school. They do this by implementing car-sharing programs, by encouraging students to use the shuttle and public transportation services, and other initiatives like bike-share programs that cut down on vehicle use.
In one university, a car-sharing program that was implemented started out as an idea that thought of by one of their students. With the help of a professor, they were able to do the research on it, take the idea to administration, and ultimately implement it.
Offering Sustainability Courses
Universities and international colleges are offering more courses that are related to sustainability in keeping up with the interdisciplinary nature of it.
Classes such as sustainable architecture, sustainability and health, sustainable agriculture and farming, the sociology of sustainability, and the economics of sustainability are becoming more and more common even at the undergraduate level. For instance, the basis of an organic gardening course could be to oversee a sustainable organic garden.
Of course, these courses in sustainability also have guidelines that regulate them. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education or AASHE states that these courses should emphasize the “effects on humans and on the biosphere of human population dynamics; energy production, use and extraction; and other human activities such as agriculture, building, manufacturing, recreation, and transportation.”
These courses should also cover “The relationship of consumption, culture, population, the environment, and social equity,” as well as “Cultural, governmental, social, and legal frameworks for guiding sustainable development and environmental management.
Implementing Sustainability in Different Subjects
Environmental science, in which sustainability is founded on, is in itself an interdisciplinary field. It draws on chemistry, ecology, oceanology, biology, physics, geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences. When it comes to sustainability, however, it goes further and incorporates the methodologies and theories of behavioral science, social science, economic modeling, and other disciplines.
Sustainability affects everything people do in their work and daily lives. Higher-ups in the private sector across different industries are now becoming increasingly interested in hiring people who understand sustainability and how important it is. But, they are also looking for somebody who is trained in a specific skill or academic disciplines like accounting, biology, engineering, or forestry management. In other words, these people want students who can see their area of expertise through the lens of sustainability.
Sustainability, in many ways, is essentially a new, more inclusive term for an idea or a number of similar ideas that have been around for quite some time. However, because of the concerns over the impact of the impact of carbon emissions on the ecology of the earth, the future of humanity in this planet, and oil resources have made this issue become more immediate.
Because of this, the definitions of sustainability and environmentalism in the international colleges in the Philippines have broadened to include almost every aspect of human behavior, from literature and art to mathematics, economics, science, law, and business.