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Foundations of Sustainability: Staff, Students & Faculty in Dialogue

By Sustainability Office on August 7, 2017
-Annaliese Clauze ’20
Summer 2017 Foundations of Sustainability Participants.

Summer 2017 Foundations of Sustainability Participants.

As the summer draws to the end, so too does the third annual summer session of Foundations of Sustainability, organized and led by the Office of Sustainability.

During the six-week discussion-based course, twenty staff, faculty, and students from departments across campus came together each week over a sustainably-sourced lunch to facilitate an open discussion about personal, university, and national sustainability practices and policies.

Each week of the course focused on a different theme of sustainability, from ecological limits to food and food systems to Colgate’s own sustainable policies and goals, and presented literature relevant to the topic to the participants. The resulting discussions hoped to start an interdepartmental conversation on campus regarding personal and institutional responsibility for one’s actions and resource consumption. These discussions ventured not only into the impact of human consumption on the planet and the environment, but also to the long-term consequences of the current, continued trajectory for humanity itself.

Many graduates of the course found the discussions and contributions from varied perspectives to be an illuminating experience.

This course is invaluable on many levels.  It brought employees and students together and provided a means to meet others and share and learn in a comfortable environment.  It supports sustainability on-campus.  It was just an amazing opportunity,” one participant responded in a follow-up assessment.

Others noted that the course brought to their attention areas for personal change and growth and inspired additional conscientiousness on their parts. For example, one participant mentioned, “sustainability in everyday life is possible. With all the information I have learned, I have definitely been thinking twice before making purchases. The whole cycle of consumerism was very eye-opening and really made me look at myself and how I had been contributing to that.”

It is just these types of self-reflections and behavior changes that Foundations of Sustainability works to inspire.

Foundations of Sustainability and other sustainability-oriented classes will be offered to staff and faculty in the upcoming year as a part of a new Sustainability Passport Program. Stay tuned throughout the fall semester to find out more as information becomes available!

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