- Experts think that American schools and universities need to do more to combat climate change.
- Climate, sustainability, and the environment are now the focus of several colleges and universities.
- A poll found that 75% of respondents claimed their dedication to sustainability was a factor in their choice to apply.
Universities and colleges play an increasingly crucial role in the worldwide effort to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases.
Endowment and employment levels, as well as significant real estate holdings and energy usage, are among the reasons why these institutions must lead the way in sustainability.
There are climate-action groups like the International Universities Climate Alliance and Second Nature. They want colleges and universities to help facilitate more solutions by sharing their knowledge and enabling innovation through advocacy efforts and better research in climate science and related fields. Students are also calling for a greater focus on environmental issues.
Annually universities and colleges spend billions of dollars on facility improvements and upkeep as well as for food transportation and research. Then there are investments made on behalf of endowments by institutions.
Colleges and universities may exert even more financial, cultural, and social impact in communities where they are the biggest employer, such as Arizona State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Pennsylvania State University.
More extensive sustainability plans have been established after more than 650 universities and colleges vowed to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by early 2018. These efforts go well beyond putting bike racks or vegetarian options in dining halls. Some of these expenditures include renovations to minimize the use of water and energy, improvements in recycling and composting, purchases of electric cars, and the sale of fossil-fuel assets.
Experts, however, argue that colleges and universities throughout the nation, not just the most prosperous and well-known institutions, should be more involved in climate research and action, leading to the speedier implementation of discovered solutions.
“Greenest colleges” website BestColleges recommends developing academic programs and possibilities, such as urban planning and environmental science, to improve the emphasis on sustainability on campus.
Arizona State University established a department of sustainability. Many other universities and colleges have lately developed departments devoted to studying climate change, sustainability, and the environment.
Recruiting may be significantly impacted by a college or university’s commitment to environmental stewardship. It was observed that 75% of the 2021 poll respondents (up from 66% the previous year) said that “knowledge regarding a college’s commitment to the environment would influence their choice about applying or attending the institution.”
The growing expense of tuition, student life, and whether or not students will submit their essays on time and graduate may still dominate discussions at universities and colleges. Many administrators, students, professors, and staff understand that sustainability has to be a much greater concern that requires long-term commitment and attention. If the world becomes uninhabitable for human existence, there will be no classrooms, laboratories, or future for the higher education industry.
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