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Sustainability Essays


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Sustainability at Macalester College
Suzanne Savanick Hansen, Macalester College
For the past three decades, Macalester College has been a leader in implementing sustainable practices on campus. In 2008-2009, the newly established Sustainability Office facilitated a campus-wide sustainability strategic planning process. The results of that work, along with Climate Action Plan recommendations by the Environmental Studies senior seminar led to the adoption of Macalester College's first comprehensive Sustainability Plan ( The plan articulates concrete goals and actions for the college including:

Sustainability at Colorado College
Barbara Whitten, Colorado College
Colorado College has a very active sustainability program, which is fully described on our web page ( Because of our location, we traditionally attract students with strong environmental interests, who spend their weekends and block breaks hiking, climbing, kayaking and skiing. We've had an active environmental student group for twenty five years; recently their efforts have shifted from preserving the wilderness (old growth forests, endangered species, etc) to sustainability on campus and in the community. Administration support has also increased; sustainability is a significant effort of President Celeste, who signed the President's Climate Commitment in 2009. In 2008, he created the Sustainability Council, which is composed of administrators, facilities staff, faculty, and students, and oversees all campus sustainability initiatives. Administrative support has enabled us to increase the level of support for sustainability, but many of the initiatives continue to be student-driven.

Sustainability at Luther
Steve Holland, Luther College
There are several reasons for my interest in sustainability education. Sustainability education complements the goals of a liberal education and the mission of Luther College in many ways. First, sustainability education emphasizes an interdisciplinary, systems approach to thinking about problems. It promotes an understanding of social and ecological systems, an awareness of their interdependence, and an appreciation for the complexity of our world. Second, sustainability education demands attention to the importance of place and community while simultaneously increasing students' awareness of cross-cultural perspectives and global interconnectedness. Finally, sustainability education helps students become informed, ethical citizens. The ability to assess empirical claims, think critically about alternative viewpoints, engage in political discourse, advocate change, and commit to action leads students toward a life of service and learning. As a teacher in a liberal arts college, I think it is essential to introduce sustainability concepts wherever appropriate.

Making Sustainability Visible
Thomas Beery, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Thomas Beery, Center for Environmental Education, University of Minnesota-Duluth Sustainability is about people and the choices they make, ultimately it is a question of human behavior. A deliberate effort to ...

Sustainability at Beloit - Biology
Yaffa Grossman, Beloit College Download essay as PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 20kB Jun2 10) My interests in sustainability date to the late 1980s, when I worked in the Public Affairs Office of the Ecological Society of ...

Sustainability and Understanding Time
Mary Savina, Carleton College
Mary Savina, Geology, Carleton College When I'm talking with students in geology courses about sustainability, I don't use the word much. As one of my colleagues, Aaron Swoboda, puts it, we know ...

Sustainability at Monmouth - Ecology
Tim Tibbetts, Monmouth College
As a plant ecologist I look at sustainability through biodiversity lenses. How many corn and bean fields will be planted where native forests and prairies were cleared? How many invasive plants will threaten the remaining fragments? How will these fragments be used, preserved, protected? How will we deal with soil erosion, loss of soil fertility, increased fertilizer demands, run off and eutrophication of our waters? And still feed a growing population?

Sustainability at Ripon - Economics
Dmytro Zhosan, Ripon College
While in general sustainability seems to be becoming more and more popular as a topic these days, one thing that needs to be understood is what kind of sustainability we are talking about. There is no secret that the definition itself varies among people and among institutions. Some prefer to focus on small issues – like switching to local-grown food and going "trayless" in the commons, some decide to "go bigger" and replace grass on athletic fields with artificial turf made of recycled tires or turn to alternative energy sources for different campus needs. Regardless of which particular actions we are talking about, the end goal seems to be the same for all – minimizing the environmental impact of human activity.

Sustainability at Monmouth - Chemistry
Bradley Sturgeon, Monmouth College
I am a chemist/scientist; not a traditional chemist of years past, but one who approaches his work with an interdisciplinary attitude. As a scientist, all good ideas fall inside of my academic boundaries. In my traditional chemistry-related research, I explore enzyme-related science. In particular, I study enzyme generated free radicals and attempt to uncover the role (good and bad) of free radicals in biological systems. Chemistry, in general, has been a discipline that has provided technologies that has enabled civilizations to be non-sustainable. In the recent years chemist have provided technology that have enabled civilizations to be more aware of the need to engage in sustainable practices. As with the fore mentioned free radials, technology has a good and bad side that is not so evident at the time of development. In my traditional role as a chemistry instructor, I focus on foundational principles, the scientific method, and logic. I feel that these skills will allow our graduates to make sustainable decisions/choices and be productive citizens of our world. I introduce "green" or sustainability ideas/concepts whenever possible, although this is done as a secondary part of the educational process; I think I can approve in this area. I direct student-initiated projects dealing with solar panels, LED lighting, rain gardens, rain barrels, native plants, and soft drink design, all of which have "green" underlying concepts. I have an interest in thermal imaging as a means of promoting energy conservation, although I know very little on the topic.

Sustainability in Mining Activity
Stephen Kissin, Lakehead University
Stephen Kissin, Geology, Lakehead University Northwestern Ontario is a vast area underlain by the Canadian Shield that has experienced mining activity for the past century and a half. The area, particularly the ...

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