Initial Publication Date: October 16, 2017

Developing & Activating Sustainable Practices at FAMU

John Thomas Warford, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

In practical terms, how should sustainability inform the development of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), and its impact on students, faculty, staff, and the local community? Here at FAMU, my colleagues and I have been asked to address this question. My answer is a short, one sentence response, to be followed by an explanation.

In practical terms, Sustainability should inform my home institution and the local community through a combination of understanding, motivation, and practice.

Why? Because an approach that is founded on the combination of these three things corresponds perfectly to the three interdependent levels of being within and reflected by human beings. Thesw levels of being are – thought, desire, and action. Thoughts should lead to better understanding. Desires should lead to proper motivation. Actions should reflect best practice.

So in the work of establishing sustainable conditions, we must accept the mission of engaging people with the purpose of helping them do several things. We must design and implement techniques and strategies that positively impact people's individual value systems. We do this in order to create a cohesive collective value system regarding our stability and advancement. Value system formation (in the very young) and value system transformation (in all others), where needed. Value system reinforcement must be a constant within our academic institution and in the broader community. It is also important to use affirmations and visualization of the conditions and outcomes we want and expect regarding sustainability in action.

A second question also given to us: Given our history, student / community demographic, campus culture, and geographic location, what specific strategies should be used to develop Sustainability praxis at FAMU? I would start by asking the reader to see the four questions I posed in the other essay submitted for this workshop. The four questions offered to possibly serve as some guiding principles for specific strategies.

In addition, I offer the following as a list of some strategies that I've placed into one of two categories. A few of the points with be found in both categories. The first category are strategies that need to be increased, supported, or implemented. The second category represents issues and conditions that need to be addressed and kept front and center. This list not written by priority.

Support, Increase, and Implement

  • Climate Change Research, Activism, and Education
  • Collaborative Efforts and Social Equity
  • Shared Responsibility and Shared Rewards
  • Economic Feasibility and Efficiency
  • Superior Facilities Management and Design
  • Best Practices and Creative Incentives
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches and Methods
  • Local, Urban and Community Farming
  • Urban Gardening
  • Service Learning and Innovative Instruction
  • Beatification Projects & Functional Spaces Creation
  • Social Media Marketing Campaigns
  • Social Networking Enhancement and Education
  • Recycling System Expansion and Incentives
  • Renewable Energy Usage
  • Continuous Engagement and Expectations
  • Assessment Improvements and Accountability
  • Public Policy Engagement and Formation
  • Public and Environmental History Education
  • Community Environmental Profiles
  • Arts Education and the Environment

Address, and Keep Front and Center

  • Respect for Leadership and Followship
  • Building Our Own Sustainability Corps
  • Finding and Working with Allies
  • Raising our Institutional Profile Internationally
  • Collaborative Efforts and Social Equity
  • Shared Responsibility and Shared Rewards
  • Economic Feasibility and Efficiency
  • Conservation and Human Ecology
  • Environmental Justice and Climate Justice

This list of strategies and issues can be seen as unwieldy and overwhelming to some, but we should remember we could never take all of this on at once. We should also remember that it is unwise to force or demand that people accept and understand the grand picture. There are some folks who will get it, but that is not our true measure for success. After assessing our needs and resources, we should determine and implement the next steps. By getting people to the next step, the one they are capable of, we will have a positive impact. Whatever that step looks like for them, help them get to it. Then we take the next ones. That is making a positive moves toward sustainablitity.

(This essay is from an unpublished paper I wrote in February 2015, entitled: Sustainability: Answering Three Questions.)

Downloadable version of this essay

developing & implementing sustainable practices (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 18kB Oct9 17)