Sustainability News

Ashley Thorne

This edition of news on sustainability and higher education includes the following:

  • Researchers determine that sustainability is now a science
  • Occupy Wall Street's sustainability committee plays house
  • Harvard looks to hire someone who can "cultivate an understanding of food" in the community
  • NAS's Ashley Thorne debates AASHE's Paul Rowland on whether the campus sustainability movement detracts from the better purposes of higher education

​To read NAS’s official position on the sustainability movement, see “Fixing Sustainability and Sustaining Liberal Education.” 

Is Sustainability a Science?

After 25 Years, Sustainability is a Growing Science That's Here to Stay, Research from Los Alamos, IU Shows, Indiana University
Researchers analyze sustainability’s reach in terms of publications, authors, collaboration, and “footprint” in traditional scientific disciplines. The authors published their findings in an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Is Sustainability Science Really a Science? Los Alamos and Indiana University Researchers Say Yes, Los Alamos National Laboratory
A new science has been created “out of thin air,” to meet “the need for informed global social practice and policy.”

Call for Sustainability Science Papers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
The journal of the National Academy of Science has launched a new section devoted to sustainability science.

Is Sustainability Science Really a Science?
Steve Milloy, author of Green Hell, says no. “‘Sustainability’ is not a science; it’s an excuse not to growth [sic] and develop,” he writes.

Occupy Wall Street

Sustainability = Survival at ‘Occupy’ Protest, Bloomberg
Occupy Wall Street protesters had a “sustainability” section in Zuccotti Park and held sustainability meetings about recycling, composting, stationary bike generators, and whether to accept a gift of rabbit meat from a charitable butcher.

Is the Occupy Wall Street Movement Sustainable? Triple Pundit
An inventor asserts that “democratization of energy” coincides with the spirit of the Occupy movement.

Follow the Money

College Students Awarded Grants to Design Sustainable Technologies, ThomasNet
45 teams of students have received $15,000 each in grants from the EPA for projects on subjects such as cleaner burning cookstoves, worm composting, and wind energy in Haiti.


Sustainability Classes You Can Take! Pitt Environmental
A blogger recommends three sustainability-related engineering courses for students registering for the spring 2012 semester at the University of Pittsburgh.

STARS Factoids and Best Practices: Curriculum and Innovation Credits, AASHE
Colleges are tallying up “sustainability learning outcomes” and earning credits for the sustainability ranking system STARS.

Green Jobs in the Ivory Tower

UNC Sustainability News and Updates
This blog provides information about higher education job openings in sustainability. On the first page alone (October 26-December 6, 2011), 28 colleges and universities are listed with 33 titles to fill. They include a “food literacy project coordinator” at Harvard, post-doctoral fellowships at Williams, and a “professor in environmental ethics and policy with possible additional teaching duties in feminism and race studies.”

Measuring Sustainability Performance at the University of Maryland, ACUPCC Implementer
The University of Maryland has added to its sustainability bureaucracy, hiring a Measurement Coordinator for its Office of Sustainability in order to fulfill “climate action plan” goals. 

Operations and Approaches

Through Program, More Campus Offices Go Green, Diamondback Online
The University of Maryland introduces “Green Office,” a new incentive program to encourage campus offices to be sustainable. “To receive green office certification, each office must take five steps, including signing a green office pledge, performing an environmental audit before entering the program and identifying a green office representative to oversee sustainability efforts.”

Bowdoin Announces Update to Carbon Neutrality Plan, Bowdoin Campus News
Bowdoin College president Barry Mills urges students to make sustainable choices and take a cue from this student video.

“Mission-Based Sustainability”: A New Resource for Catholic Higher Education Institutions, AASHE
A Catholic group has published a document intended as a toolkit to help Catholic colleges integrate their missions with the sustainability movement.

Leadership by Example: Campus-Community Collaboration on Climate Protection, ACUPCC Implementer
A New York county seeks to start moving to a “clean energy economy.” This is what all counties should be doing, writes the author – because “Campuses can only truly become sustainable if the communities around them are sustainable.”

2011 ACUPCC Northeast Regional Collaborative Symposium Summary, Second Nature
127 participants convened at the first regional symposium hosted by the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.


The Campus Sustainability Movement Should Drop Out, Bloomberg Businessweek
NAS’s Ashley Thorne and AASHE’s Paul Rowland debate: The campus sustainability movement subtracts from the better purposes of higher education. Pro or con?

Another Kind of Higher Education Sustainability

Strategies for Financial Sustainability in HE: Live Chat, Guardian
The Guardian hosts a discussion of how higher education institutions can cut costs without cutting quality. 

*Photo at top courtesy of Indiana University

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