Saturday, February 25, 2017

Why Is International Climate Action Important To Your Higher Education Institution?

In a recent post, I displayed a letter from over 230 university president heads -- scientists -- who wrote President Trump a letter urging him to support climate action.  The letter was sent to him before he assumed the office of the presidency.  Signing a letter is an act of support for the concerted effort to urge the President to take action on climate change instead of resisting the scientific results.  In order for an institution (or president of an institution) to sign onto a letter like that generated by the scientists, the institutional goals need to be aligned with those stated in the letter. Otherwise, you are just signing a letter to support, but really the situation is analogous to having a foot 'half in the water half out of the water.'

Having an endorsement of a university is a serious deal.  There are laws and restrictions which typically will serve as an obstacle to endorsing an issue.  Since Governor Brown has made renewable energy and climate action serious goals for the state of California, each institution is aligned in endorsing initiatives which further those goals as did his predecessor.  In a recent post, I highlighted a video of Governor Schwarznegger who discussed air pollution and on a broader scale improving the environment and the economy of California simultaneously.

In light of the letter received by the President, I thought that hearing personal answers to a question posed by the organization 'Second Nature' would be interesting to read.  The question is the same as in the title of the blog post:

Why is strong federal and international Climate Action important to your Higher Education Institution?

Below are the answers which were provided by scientists who chose to answer the above question.

Elizabeth Kiss, President, Agnes Scott College

“Our mission at Agnes Scott is to prepare students to think deeply, live honorably, and engage the challenges of their time.  Our willingness to come together as a national and global community and take strong action in the face of the challenge of climate change will determine what kind of world these students inherit from us — and how history will judge our generation.” – 

James Mullen, President, Allegheny College

“Allegheny has a deep and longstanding commitment to addressing the realities of climate change. That commitment is fundamental to our campus ethic and is reflected in both our curricular and co-curricular programs. Both during their time on our campus and in the years after their graduation, it is our hope that our students will bring their own deeply felt commitment to addressing climate change to their responsibilities as citizens of the world.” – 

Thomas Manley, President, Antioch College (OH)

“Leadership on challenging problems means taking action and inspiring action by others. Sometimes leadership literally means going first. The President and the Government of the United States must lead.” – 

Melinda Treadwell, Provost, Antioch University New England

“Our institutional commitment to sustainability and social justice commands that we acknowledge that there is no more significant risk to our society than the expanding impacts of climate change.  We will continue to act and we call upon our country’s leaders to do the same.” – 

Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University

“As a New American University with a charter that includes assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves, Arizona State University believes leadership action on climate change at all levels of society is essential. We have an opportunity to avoid the growing negative impacts of inaction and, instead, practice leadership that will lead to a prosperous and secure future.” – 

Glen LeRoy, President, Boston Architectural College

“As part of our greater institutional mission, we at the Boston Architectural College are proponents of the practices, processes, and materials with which to create a truly sustainable built environment, ranging from green building design to sustainable community planning to policy and advocacy. Now more than ever, the BAC stands firm on its values and commitment to the examination of energy, water, air quality, materials and resources, preservation, construction management, land use, and research methods for the sake of ethical and responsible environmental stewardship.” – 

Timothy White, Chancellor, California State University System

“Effective leadership and federal/state policy must be based in research and education regarding climate and the environment, energy systems,  along with human/social factors and behaviors.” – 

Jane Conoley, President, California State University-Long Beach

“We are located near the Pacific Coast in southern California. This is a vulnerable area across many dimensions of concern, for example, rising sea levels, ocean pollution, estuary preservation, sustainable commercial fishing, and air pollution. Hundreds of our students and faculty are involved in science related to the preservation of our planet.” – 

Dianne Harrison, President, California State University-Northridge

“As a higher education institution that serves the community and the Southern California region, California State University, Northridge has a responsibility to be a leader and educator on issues like climate action to help our students and communities ensure a healthy and sustainable world for everyone and the generations that follow us.” – 

Robert Nelsen, President, California State University-Sacramento

“Institutions of higher education are places where scientific advancements are made and solutions to global problems are realized. Climate change is one of the greatest issues facing our planet, and universities across the nation are prepared to find solutions. Federal support is imperative to this cause.” – 

Brian Murphy, President, De Anza College

“The development of an alternative economy that employs our students and protects our environment from the effects of climate change have to be among the highest goals of the nation.” – 

James Brenneman, President, Goshen College

“Among the highest callings we have as educators in preparing leaders of tomorrow is to help students under our care learn how to better protect and preserve this planet for all future generations. We expect no less from our chosen political leaders, as well.” – 

Jim Minkler, President, Grays Harbor College

“Although we are not able to control very many of the aspects of climate change, through united effort we may be able to mitigate the most damaging effects on humanity.  Education teaches us the importance of taking responsibility for our actions, and it is through collective action that the greatest feats can be accomplished.  It is only when leadership on the federal and international level work together for the collective good that we will have any chance of faring well through the challenges wrought upon us by climate change.” – 

Kimberly Benston, President, Haverford College

“As a responsible member of our local, national, and global communities, and as an institution dedicated to educating the next generations of scientifically informed and ethically attuned citizens, Haverford College is profoundly committed to effective climate action at all levels of civic engagement.” – 

Alison Byerly, President, Lafayette College

“As higher education leaders who are responsible for educating the next generation of citizens and leaders, we recognize that climate change will be the defining challenge of their lifetimes, and we owe it to our students and their future to do all we can to promote unified action to combat this global threat.” – 

 Linda Lujan, President, Lamar Community College

“Rural America has been hard-hit by weather-related events in this century. Our country’s reliance on the farming and ranching industries makes it critically important to ensure we continue to research and act on ways to mitigate that impact and adapt to the effects of global warming. Regardless of your beliefs about the cause, the effects are being felt strongly in rural areas. We are preparing the next generation to lead and strengthen rural America. They need your support. Thank you.” –

Debra Derr, President, Mt. Hood Community College

“‘Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”   -Ancient Indian Proverb. Higher Education is about the future vitality of our nation and our world.  We educate for the future – we have a responsibility to teach why we must “treat the earth well” and be models for our communities.” – 

Patricia Gentile, President, North Shore Community College

“NSCC has been committed to sustainability for more than a decade and has committed to reduce our carbon footprint, created a cross college green team, invested in a zero net energy building, and includes a sustainable future in our Values statement.” – 

Thomas Krise, President, Pacific Lutheran University

“Pacific Lutheran University is committed to the values of Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability.  Our mission statement underscores our commitment to care for the Earth: “We seek to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care–for other people, for their communities, and for the Earth.”‘ – 

David Oxtoby, President, Pomona College

“Global climate change is one of the signature issues of the 21st Century, and Pomona College seeks to educate its students to play a leading role in science and policy to make progress in the future.” – 

Wim Wiewel, President, Portland State University

“Without action on Climate Change, anything else we do will be severely compromised.  Carbon reduction and resilience efforts are our #1 priority.” – 

Carlee Drummer, President, Quinebaug Valley Community College

“Colleges and universities in the United States have a vested interest in being exemplary stewards of the environment, but institutions cannot wage the battle alone. Strong federal and international Climate Action is essential.” – 

Michael McDonough, President, Raritan Valley Community College

“Institutions with a long-term vision like ours have been fighting climate change for years. We have found that reducing energy usage and avoiding climate risk makes financial sense while also addressing our obligations to future generations. Furthermore, the US military recognizes climate change as a national security issue. It is time for our federal government to provide policy support for climate action.” – 

Donald Farish, President, Roger Williams University

“Any action that our country takes that moves us away from greater reliance on renewable energy sources, and back to greater use of carbon-based energy, is incompatible with sustainability, a core principle of our campus.” – 

Susan Hencking, President, Shimer College

“Scientists concur that climate change is a real and significant threat. To move against environmental concerns is inhumane and irresponsible. To ignore science is unacceptable.” – 

Kathleen McCartney, President, Smith College

“By educating the next generation of women leaders about climate change we help ensure a better Smith and a better world.” – 

Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, State University of New York (SUNY)

“Climate change cannot be reversed by a single institution nor a single country. A collective intervention in the multitude of factors that impact climate change is necessary for success. The State University of New York, together with all of higher education must be a driving force in continued examination of climate change and development of opportunities to assure cleaner more secure planet for future generations.” – 

Virginia Horvath, President, State University of New York at Fredonia

“We are doing all we can to educate students about responsible use of resources, to engage with community partners in looking at energy and pollutants, and to ensure that our campus buildings and operations are environmentally friendly. We want to prepare students to be engaged consumers and citizens, and I join colleagues in requesting strong state, federal, and international Climate Action policies and practices.” – 

Quentin Wheeler, President, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

“Climate action is prudent insurance against the uncertainties of continued warming on global environmental change and its implications for human health and well-being as well as the integrity of ecosystems and diversity of life.” – 

George Bridges, President, The Evergreen State College

“As the president of The Evergreen State College, I am pleased to join colleagues from around the nation in signing the Letter from Higher Education Leaders on Climate Action to president-elect Trump and members of Congress. Environmental stewardship and study are interwoven with Evergreen’s commitments to advancing knowledge and pursuing social justice. Together these commitments comprise a core theme for our work, a key tenet of our strategic plan, and an integral element of our educational mission. Evergreen embeds considerations of environmental stewardship and social justice into its curriculum and its operations. We seek to increase awareness of environmental problems, the consequences of individual and collective action, and specifically, the impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Our study and practice of environmental stewardship are deeply linked to our commitment to addressing global concerns about the health and welfare of all communities. Evergreen also assumes that understanding and solving environmental challenges such as climate change or food security requires firm grounding in research in the natural and life sciences. Equally important is understanding the role that social, political and economic forces play in causing these challenges and remedying them fully and effectively. Advancing knowledge about the challenges is critical. As a college committed to interdisciplinary thinking and pedagogy, our academic programs, equity and inclusion efforts, climate action planning, clean energy and sustainable infrastructure initiatives align well with this important call to action for our elected officials. In signing the Letter, I am pleased to join the call on behalf of the entire Evergreen community.” – 

Gene Block, Chancellor, University of California, Los Angeles

“As a University we have a deep commitment to research innovative solutions for tomorrow, to serve the greater public good, and to educate the leaders of future generations. Strong federal and international climate action is critical to this mission.” – 

J. Bruce Harreld, President, University of Iowa

“This is the most important issue facing the next generation. The science is clear.  Now is the time to act … while we still can.” – 

Lendley Black, Chancellor, University of Minnesota-Duluth

“Researchers at UMD are leaders in studying the response of Great Lakes to climate change.  Impacts to the Great Lakes will affect not only human and biological communities, but also industry, shipping, tourism, and other economic interests.” – 

Jacqueline Johnson, Chancellor, University of Minnesota-Morris

“University of Minnesota, Morris was a charter signatory of the ACUPCC climate commitment, and we have continued the commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and operate in an environmentally responsible way to this day. The commitment is important to many of our constituents, including our students, who elect to attend this institution in part because they are able to live in a community that models a different way of living for the future.  We are powered by the wind and the sun and heated and cooled using local biomass resources, thus benefiting not only the region and the environment, but also our campus bottom line.” – 

Rodney Smith, President, University of The Bahamas

“Any and every action taken by the United States will have an affect on the neighboring country of The Bahamas.” – 

Mark Pagano, Chancellor, University of Washington, Tacoma

“As an Urban Serving University, UW Tacoma is committed to serving the South Puget Sound for the common good of our citizens. This certainly includes providing for responsible and thoughtful actions with respect to sustainability as well as providing leadership in areas related to preserving the health of our environment for the future.” – 

Robert Caret, Chancellor, University System of Maryland

“Our future is at risk. We all need to do our part to curtail the dramatic and damaging changes our ecosystem is experiencing.” – 

Scott Miller, President, Virginia Wesleyan College

“As educators, we have a fundamental responsibility to examine environmental issues on an informed and teachable basis. We owe that to our students, giving them the tools they will need to make informed judgments about environmental stewardship. This goes hand in hand with our urgent need to monitor federal policy impacting the environment, especially as we await the new administration in Washington.” – 

Michael Roth, President, Wesleyan University

“Global climate change poses enormous challenges, and we at Wesleyan University are doing what we can to help shape a sustainable society.  Yes, we have built a strong program in Environmental Studies. Yes, the research, teaching and practices of our College of the Environment helps our graduates better contribute to a positive and sustainable future.  Yes, we are trying to practice what we teach by becoming a more sustainable campus.  But all these efforts are themselves sustained by the expectation that this national and global challenge will be met on a national and global scale.  The expectation of strong federal and international Climate Action gives us hope for the future; it energizes our efforts; it gives us confidence that our actions will be meaningful beyond the university.” – 

John Dunn, President, Western Michigan University

“Our basic commitment to all of humanity requires that we do all we can to better understand and protect the environment  for future generations.” – 

Lee Rasch, President, Western Technical College

“Western has received national recognition for our efforts to promote sustainability and our community supports these efforts. As higher education leaders, we believe it is the right thing to do.” – 

Sabah Randhawa, President, Western Washington University

“College and university campuses are critical in helping us to understand the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Given the systemic impact of climate change, it is prudent that our future business owners, teachers, scientists, and other leaders understand the challenges they will face and are prepared to overcome them. Students come to Western Washington University wanting to make difference in the lives of others and living out our motto, “Active minds changing lives”. We need to provide them the best chance for success in the monumental task in front of them; working to insure prosperity, social equity and environmental integrity for all through the next century. International and domestic attention to climate issues will help to open doors for our young leaders in the pursuit of United States innovation and leadership on the global stage in a time of critical need and opportunity.” – 

Dennis Hanno, President, Wheaton College (MA)

“Wheaton College, like other colleges and universities, is focused on preparing students to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Climate issues are not going to go away and our elected officials need to lead the way in helping us to prepare our students to address the critical challenges related to climate change.” – 

Until next time, have a great day!

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