By Second Nature
In the February 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer, Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development at Second Nature, discusses efforts to "level the playing field by bridging the resource gap between wealthy and under-resourced institutions." Second Nature has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) on the UNCF Building Green at Minority-Serving Institutions Initiative. In the past two years, Second Nature has provided guidance on UNCF's efforts towards engaging minority serving institutions in the sustainability movement...To view the complete article, please click here.
This is a re-blog of a post by The American Meteorological Society. See the original post here.
The AMS Education Program has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to implement the AMS Climate Studies course at 100 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) over a five-year period. The project will focus on introducing and enhancing geoscience coursework at MSIs nationwide, especially those that are signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and/or members of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation. AMS is partnering with Second Nature, the non-profit organization administering the ACUPCC.
“This national network involves more than 670 colleges and universities who are committed to eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by promoting the education and research needed for the rest of society to do the same,” explains Jim Brey, director of the AMS Education Program. “AMS and Second Nature will work together to demonstrate to current and potential MSI signatories how AMS Climate Studies introduces or enhances sustainability-focused curricula.”
In the first four years of the project, AMS will hold a weeklong AMS Climate Studies course implementation workshops for about 25 MSI faculty members. The annual workshops will feature scientists from NOAA, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Maryland, Howard University, George Mason University, and other Washington, DC area institutions. Faculty will initially offer AMS Climate Studies in the year following workshop attendance and colleges that successfully implement AMS Climate Studies will be encouraged to build a focused geoscience curricula area by also offering AMS Weather Studies and AMS Ocean Studies.
“The major outcomes of this project will be a large network of faculty trained as change agents in their institutions, sustained offering of AMS undergraduate courses within MSIs, and the introduction of thousands of MSI students to the geosciences,” comments Brey. He notes that this project builds on the success of similar NSF-supported programs for MSI faculty implementing the AMS Weather Studies and AMS Ocean Studies courses, which together have reached 200 MSIs and over 18,000 MSI students. “We’re looking forward to working with Second Nature to continue to expand the climate course and the education that it represents.”
This is a re-blog of a post by Rosa González, Education Director, Green For All. See the original post here.
I can confidently say the green movement is fully underway at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)! This is a big deal because most HBCUs are located in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and poverty. And in the past, HBCU students have been under-informed about these issues and have not been significantly engaged around developing solutions to economic and environmental crises. Today, HBCU students from all around the country are building a student-led movement to ensure their communities do not remain on the margins of the sustainability movement.
On August 19th through August 21st, Green For All brought 30 student leaders from 15 Historically Black Colleges and Universities together in Washington, D.C. for the 2nd Green For All College Ambassador training.
The program kicked off with a keynote address by award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator, Jeff Johnson, who engaged the Ambassadors in a strategic thinking around campus organizing. The rest of the program included a dynamic combination of team building activities, environmental literacy training (using the Roots of Success curriculum), student organizing workshops, and opportunities for deep dialogue and planning. Ambassadors shared songs, poetry, and testimonies at a celebratory dinner, proving this multi-talented cohort is unstoppable!
The potential of HBCU students may be overlooked by many and understood by few in the green movement, but these students are determined to shape the local, state and national discourse on the needs and benefits of an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.
Green For All launched the College Ambassador program in September of 2010 to invest in student organizers to champion the green-economy within communities most impacted by climate change and poverty. The program follows the academic calendar and runs on fifteen historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Ambassadorship consists of expert trainings, a mentorship program in partnership with Green For All Academy Fellows, student-led green education workshops, and a semester long campus sustainability initiatives created and carried out by the Ambassadors with support from students, faculty and Green For All.
Through the Green For All Ambassador program, we hope to provide the tools and support that will allow students to step up to new levels of leadership. Through their leadership we are expanding the base of students calling for sustainable economic development, and creating real change throughout the HBCU system.
The students who have successfully finished serving their Ambassadorships can be found on the College Ambassador Alumni page.
By Adrien Tofighi, on behalf of Second Nature team
“Sustainability” has, for a while now, become the new hit word from the supermarket to the classroom. Throwing it around has never been easier, and with so little knowledge in mainstream culture about what it actually means, it has slowly been engulfed under a pile of distorted definitions. Sustainability is simple. There is no need for speedy delivery pizza and oversized trash bag boxes from Costco, but it is “convenient”. There is no need for paper plates and plastic cups from Dunkin Donuts, but that is “convenient” too. As EF Schumacher titled his book, small is beautiful, and to add to the movement, slow is beautiful too! The only way to understand the true value of this is by changing the face of convenience, so how do we do so?
Convenience: [noun] a thing that contributes to an easy and effortless way of life1.
Every morning I see escalators in the subway station, in Boston these run for about 20 hours a day, seven days a week, with several of them in more than 30 stations. Although I don’t know everyone’s physical condition, I know for sure that more than half of the individuals who take an escalator can also easily walk up a flight a stairs. But, it is convenient, right? The problem with convenience is that it has no limits, no restrictions, and most of all, there is rarely any incentive not to use something that is convenient. Yet this word seems to have brought about many of our current environmental problems. On-demand escalators run in few places around the world, and can cut up to 52% of energy use2. Furthermore, if individuals really needed to use an escalator instead of stairs, wouldn’t it be fair to offer them on-demand individual seating, similar to that of a ski lift? Keeping these at regular escalator speed, or even slower, we’ve already created two incentives not to take the escalator; not only would I, as a 21 year old male, look lazy on it, but I would see the others flying by me on the staircase as I remain seated!
So, how did convenience ever shift from “easy to use” to “easy to use regardless of the consequences”? Where are the restrictions on plastic cups from Starbucks, and most of all, where are the incentives to bring your own mug from home (which you already bought)? This is not a revolutionary concept, in fact it’s not even a new concept, but we’ve thrown a new word on it. Yes it is “sustainable” to bring your own mug to the coffee shop, but it is also common sense. So where did our notion of common sense go?
I was reading a story about a cashier telling an old woman at a store that plastic bags weren’t good for the environment, she apologized and said “We didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in my day”. The story continues with examples on how it was, “back in the day”; milk and coke bottles were returned to stores, everyone used stairs, baby nappies were washable and re-usable (as opposed to the throw-away ones), solar and wind energy dried your clothes on a clothesline, you could refill your pen with ink or replace your razor blade, instead of buying a whole new one, and exercising was a product of all this work, not something to pay for at the health club you drive to, but as the story goes, “she’s right, they didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in her day”3. Yet much of this lifestyle is not that far “back in the day”, it has only vanished in the regions where “sustainability” and “green” have become big hit words (picture a gradient interactive map of the world showing what regions use these words the most, and where this “back in the day” lifestyle still remains, the contrast will then be obvious). People from the other regions of the world (from Wyoming to Malaysia) may scratch their head after hearing the word “sustainable”, and yet they will be the first in line at the shoe-repair shop.
Sure, the scenario above is not that surprising, what we need to take into account however is where education lies in all of this. More specifically, where is higher education, literally, and where is it taking us? Out of the first 30 schools ranked in the World’s Best Universities from U.S News & World Report, three are in suburb settings and two are in rural settings, while the rest remain in major cities4.
How can we be preparing students to better the world in an environment that has lost much common sense in the name of convenience? Of course, these schools are amazing knowledge hubs, with vast resources, and brilliant students – but not many classes will teach you why you should be taking the stairs instead of the escalator. Educating our students for sustainability means providing them with a sense of wonder for what is simple, slow, small, and efficient. Educating our students about sustainability means refining their wisdom (or, common sense) as well as their knowledge. Such education is the foundation for holistic thinking, and thus holistic solutions. There are too many aspects of humanity which cannot be measured by the calculator or the ruler, but only by the mind and sometimes a mere sense of logic, and if our parents cannot teach us how to put value on these aspects, than it is the role of higher education to do so, especially if it claims to fully prepare students for the world.
***(I suggest you to perform a study, asking 50 healthy [no lower body or cardiac problems] escalator-riders ages 15-40 if they hold a gym membership, and please respond with your result).
By Van H. Du, on behalf of Second Nature team
The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) released its 2010 Annual Report, unveiling the progress on sustainability efforts made by many ACUPCC signatories over the last year.
While the U.S. government continues lagging in its establishment of regulations on climate issues, colleges and universities of the ACUPCC network are taking on the leadership role and setting great examples to other sectors in teaching and practicing the concepts of sustainability. Established programs such as the Alamo Community College District’s 400 kW solar project, Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory, and George Washington’s Institute for Sustainability are just a few examples of the activities many ACUPCC institutions are engaging in to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and promote education for sustainability on their campuses. Furthermore, local and regional networks, such as the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative in New York and the Illinois Green Economy Network, exemplify ACUPCC signatories working with each other, as well as with other sectors, local governments and communities for more effective responses to the challenge of climate neutrality. Overall, highlights of institutions in the Annual Report show that through innovating, networking and collaborating, many ACUPCC signatories are making great progress in addressing sustainability and climate issues at their institutions and in society as a whole. The annual report also states that about 40% of the institutions that have submitted their climate action plans are aiming to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.
The ACUPCC also exhibits a network of diversity; among the eighty-seven minority-serving institutions (including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-serving Institutions) that signed the climate commitment, many show great progress in the climate actions on their campuses, despite specific challenges these institutions face. For example, with its second LEED-certified building underway, Spelman College recently established a policy that requires all new construction and renovation projects on campus to achieve at the minimum LEED-Silver standards. Meanwhile, at Delaware State University, students are actively involved in campus sustainability initiatives; as a result, the students have been recognized with awards such the 2010 AASHE Student Sustainability Leadership Award and the EPA OnCampus Ambassadors. The report captures the progress and creative thinking of ACUPCC signatories in the face of many challenges in addressing sustainability and climate action on campus. With the ACUPCC providing the needed framework and assistance, according to the report, 549 out of 676 signatories have completed inventories on greenhouse gas emissions, and 361 signatories have also created climate action plans to eliminate those emissions. More significantly, progress updates from institutions indicate an estimate net reduction of more than 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. All reports are publicly available through the ACUPCC Reporting System.
As a way to emphasize the importance of the higher education community and its participation in addressing sustainability and climate issues and to further strengthen the framework and benefits of the ACUPCC, Second Nature recently launched the Education for Sustainability (EfS) Innovation Project. The EfS Innovation Project signifies a new phase of Second Nature’s capacity building work to promote innovation and leadership among financially strained and minority-serving institutions. Through this program, Second Nature hopes to enable more institutions to take advantage of the benefits of joining the ACUPCC in addressing campus sustainability and climate issues. Please visit the EfS Innovation Project page for more information.