Preliminary Project Proposal

Department-by-Department: Engaging the Faculty and Staff in Campus-wide Sustainability Efforts

Project Participant(s): Erika Kazi

Description & overview of project:

Many of the sustainability efforts on campus have been directed towards the group with the largest population, the students.  However, by focusing solely on the group that comes and goes most frequently, many of our sustainability efforts are lost in time.  If we are to create an eco-friendly campus, we must have knowledgeable members at each level along with passionate faculty and staff.

This project is a way to approach groups of faculty and staff in an intimate and educational manner.  By using open ended suggestions and personal visits to departments, I believe that we will be better able to spread sustainability around campus.  This educational campaign would reach a wide range of individuals from the university’s president all the way to the athletic coaches.  Emphasizing a need for turning off lights, using power strips, and other easy behavioral changes would be an excellent first step in sustainability around campus.

A main goal, as outlined in the book “Sustainability on campus: Stories and strategies for change”, would eventually be to incorporate sustainability teachings into the course work across disciplines and levels of the university.  In this project I would like to adhere to “the notion that sustainability represents a broad interdisciplinary paradigm, one that cannot be adequately addressed in one program[, department,] or major” (p 114, Barlett, et al. 2004).  By teaching faculty and staff ways in which they can be sustainable, they can act as the real experts on campus and as mentors to student initiatives.  Encouraging knowledgeable behaviors and efforts on all levels of the Ohio Wesleyan Community, we can share an understanding of what it means to be ‘green’.

The book also raised a question that I find to be important to this project’s goal; “What is environmental literacy, not only for students, but for administrators, faculty, and staff as well?” (Barlett, et al. 2004).  In order for our school to further its sustainability efforts, we must transform the intellectual mission and expand our reach of sustainable efforts to create a campus wide ‘environmental literacy’.  By translating and reaching out to multiple departments, we can better establish this literacy.

In this project, I would take a lot of what is mentioned in the aforementioned book and see what can be done in regards to creating an active faculty and staff network.  By addressing department heads and meeting with departmental full bodies, Sean Kinghorn and I will be able to address individual concerns and issues that may arise and ensure a greater outcome of our efforts.  Instead of two sustainability tyrants addressing the school as a whole, it would be more efficient to have a different and familiar voice speak with each department.  For example, working with the Student Involvement Office, we spoke with Mona Spalsberry and addressed that department’s major sustainability concerns.  Instead of emailing a long list of things that can be done, we walked through their office and pointed out areas of easy adjustment (like turning off computers, monitors, lights, and printers).  This approach will most certainly guarantee a significant impact, and as we meet with more and more departments, raise awareness and efforts, and create a sense of responsibility towards sustainability efforts, we will most certainly see an increase in support for other campus wide initiatives, both student run and not.

As a side aspect of this project, I will be working on creating a ‘green blurb’ in our campus newspaper, The Transcript.  In this blurb, Sean and environmental groups on campus will be able to publicly announce various success stories of sustainability efforts on campus.  For example, promoting numerical data on the solid waste aversion project done in the “May Move Out” project last year and by the “Free Store” this fall.  The more the campus knows about our efforts, the more they will be willing and able to contribute.  Raising awareness and educating is a fundamental aspect of sustainability efforts.

Outline of project:

  • Models of other university successes – Below there is a survey cited that illustrates the obstacles that one may encounter when trying to green a campus.  By taking these into consideration, I will be able to address and deal with potential issues.  Also, by looking at different school’s success stories, I will be able to discover new ideas that we can apply to our campus.
  • Gaining an understanding of departmental differences – By observing and analyzing the electricity use and current sustainability efforts that each department embarks on, we can establish a personalized method of sustainable energy use.  Each and every department is made up of different personalities and devices.  It would be fruitless to administer a generalized list of behavioral changes for individuals to take.  So in order to complete the desired task of educating each department, it is important to understand what makes them different than the other departments.
  • Establishing meetings with departments – This is an important step and one in which caution is advised.  In order to best get the point of this project across, background information is important to acquire.  By having a deep and full understanding of all actions we are planning to ensue, members of the faculty and staff (who are all senior to myself) will be more likely to respect and consider all that is being said during the meeting.  Also, by partnering with Sean in this endeavor, there is an even greater chance for complete communication and understanding for all parties involved.
  • Administering understandable and achievable goals and changes – In order to fully understand the role that our campus plays in the surrounding community and how each individual ties into this equation, it is important to develop guidelines and easily attainable goals for faculty and staff to follow.  The more satisfied and successful an individual feels in their efforts to better themselves sustainably, the more likely they are to continue that behavior (the simple psychology of positive reinforcement).
  • Establishing “Green Ambassadors” – In order to promote easily attainable sustainability efforts, the “green ambassador” role would help to expand the green role from its usual culprits, encouraging the idea that anyone and everyone is able to be eco-friendly.
  • Promoting campus-wide understanding of sustainability success – In order to promote a broad and campus-wide grasp on our efforts to make this campus more sustainable, I propose to have a section in The Transcript in which students, faculty, and staff can remain up to date on “green” initiatives.  Committees, clubs, groups, and individuals all work hard to make this campus eco-friendly.  By acknowledging them we are not only providing a reward for their efforts, but we are encouraging others to participate in this initiative as well.  The more people on campus that we involve and keep informed, the more likely we are to establish a university-wide effort for sustainability.

Annotated bibliography

  1. Barlett, Peggy F. and Geoffrey W. Chase, eds. Sustainability on campus: stories and strategies for change.  2004.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. <– describes many factors for colleges to consider when attempting to create a more sustainable and eco friendly environment for students, faculty and staff
  2. Marianne Dahle, Eric Neumayer, (2001) “Overcoming barriers to campus greening: A survey among higher educational institutions in London, UK”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 2 Iss: 2, pp.139 – 160. <—describes the obstacles one must go over when attempting to ‘green’ a college campus
  3. Lozano, Rodrigo. “Sustainability in Higher Education: What is Happening?”  Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 14, Issues 9–11, 2006, Pages 963–972. <– an insight to university based sustainability guidelines through GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and GASU (the Graphical Assessment of Sustainability in Universities) – to understand the efforts we need to take as a university and the roll of each member of the community.
  4. Koester, Robert, et al.”Sustainability in Higher Education: What is Happening?” Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 14, Issues 9–11, 2006, Pages 769–779. <–the importance of bridging academic content and having all members of the campus acting and participating in the sustainability efforts of the school
  5. Robert Thompson, William Green, (2005) “When sustainability is not a priority: An analysis of trends and strategies”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 6 Iss: 1, pp.7 – 17. <—When executive level leadership and official policy are truly helpful in sustainability efforts – the importance of including administrators and faculty in student initiatives
  6. Shriberg, Michael P. 2002 “SUSTAINABILITY IN U.S. HIGHER EDUCATION: ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS INFLUENCING CAMPUS ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE AND LEADERSHIP” http://promiseofplace.org/research_attachments/Shriberg2002SustainabilityinHigherEdu.pdf. <–organizational factors that influence a college’s sustainability success
  7. Angela Franz-Balsen, Harald Heinrichs, (2007) “Managing sustainability communication on campus: experiences from Lüneburg”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 8 Iss: 4, pp.431 – 445 <— Explores the benefits of communication in regards to campus wide sustainability efforts; differentiates sustainability communication from Public Relations
  8. Clugston, Richard M. and Wynn Calder.  “Critical Dimensions of Sustainability in Higher Education.” Sustainability and University Life. Peter Lang. Walter Leal Filho, ed. 1999. <—discusses the dimensions and conditions for success in college institutions when developing sustainability programs; includes two cases that illustrate these dimensions and conditions; applicable ideas for ‘greening’ our campus
  9. Sean Kinghorn, Sustainability Coordinator. Ohio Wesleyan University. <— providing information and working with multiple departments on how they can become more sustainable and energy efficient
  10. Wesleyan Counsel on Student Affairs.  Student Government. Ohio Wesleyan University. <— Will help in providing a connection between student and faculty

2 Responses to Preliminary Project Proposal

  1. John Krygier says:

    Well, this is all nicely competent and organized. As said, I believe this is the next important step in the process of expanding sustainability on campus, especially given the power the faculty have to influence sustainability on campus. Lets meet and talk about the strategies you will use as you proceed with the project, and maybe start to specify some places to start this semester. Overall excellent start!

    John K.

  2. […] Week 6: 10/3 Preliminary Project Proposal […]

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