In 1970 it was not called "sustainability." On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day, the nice word for what we were doing was "environmentalism." Maybe we planted some trees. We did not hug any.
Enter "sustainability." The Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as meeting the "triple bottom line"—social, economic, and environmental—needs of present and future generations. Since that report, the concept of "sustainability" has come into wide use, helped by the fact that the concept easily morphs a little with each sector to which it is applied. For example, the triple bottom line was relatively easy to apply to higher education—we were teaching future generations, doing some cost containment, and saving the planet. And now we have a whole book devoted to answering the question, has sustainability run its course? Can sustainability be more than a cost center for higher education?
Sustainability has much to offer higher education. In its environmental aspect, as our society recognizes the urgency of global warming, there is much that our institutions can do in partnership with other community members to achieve a smaller carbon footprint.
But perhaps the most important implication of sustainability now for higher education is that it may help in the survivability of higher education itself. As we save the planet, we may be saving ourselves as an enterprise.
In her Chapter, Dr. Kalikow offers a path for higher education to navigate the next twenty years by engaging active learning and repeatable examples of sustainability efforts from which all can benefit.
- The Imperative: Ensuring a Sustainability Goal in the University's Strategic Plan
Dr. Harry L. WilliamsPresident, Delaware State University
- The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment: Not the End but Rather a New Way of Thinking
Dr. Jonathan GibralterPresident, Frostburg State University
- Preparing Students for the Sustainable Future
Dr. Gloria Larson, JDPresident, Bentley University