sustainable-tourism initiative. And we
have already begun integrating environmental concepts into the larger course
catalog, such as the introduction of
energy- and carbon-footprint analysis
into Community College 101. WCC also
offers weatherization training courses
and sustainability curricula in specific
programs, including its general education and technical courses.
Our students are taking their skills
to the community. One student group
recently completed an energy audit and
lighting upgrade for a local nonprofit,
which resulted in initial savings of more
than $1,000 a month. Other ongoing
programs include Greening Your Business, The Green Entrepreneur, Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Reduction, and
WCC is also part of a cross-state
venture with the North Carolina
Association of Community College Presidents and its Code Green Leadership
Team to integrate principles of sustainability into technical curricula.
Important programs and resources
can also be found at the national level.
AACC recently formed a Sustainability
Task Force of college leaders committed
to greening their campuses and communities. The task force oversees the association’s new Sustainability Education
and Economic Development initiative,
which includes more than 250 colleges
that have pledged to integrate green
jobs training and sustainability principles into their programs. (For more,
The health of our environment must
be preserved because of our economy,
not in spite of it.
While early characterizations of the
sustainability movement focused largely
on green jobs, energy efficiency, and
threats to the natural environment, a
broader view now touches on environmental studies, building science, transportation, psychology, sociology, engineering, and other academic disciplines.
A new integrative discipline is emerging.
Community colleges are at the
crossroads not only of sustainability’s
practical expression—skills, jobs,
buildings, transportation—but also as
stakeholders in its conceptualization and
As leaders, we must become students,
scholars, and shirtsleeve practitioners
of this movement. In doing so, we will
position our institutions to foster
resurgent purpose and awareness among
our faculty, staff, and students for the
important task at hand.
A New Vision
To engage this new vision, we must
do what we have always done when
emergent technologies and new
concepts have manifest: make sense
of the new technology, develop the
curriculum, develop the faculty and
staff, teach its concepts and applications,
and model its acceptance and utility on
We must also seek those teachable
moments that will enable us to embrace
a sustainable future and ensure its
Sustainability is not the latest fad
destined to fade. It cannot be an add-on.
It will require presidents to lead by
empowering the passions of those
already on our campuses.
Consider this a rallying call for
community college leaders to renew our
sense of who we are and from where we
have come and to embrace our colleges
and communities in leadership inspired
by this critical, growing, learning,
developing, and organic new movement.
Rusty stephens is president of Wilson
Community College in Wilson, N.C.
CENTER FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
A New Movement
Make no mistake: We are at the precipice
of a great and important movement in
sustainability, one that will require a
new way of thinking about the relationship between our natural environment
and economy. As Albert Einstein once
said, “The world will not evolve past its
current state of crisis by using the same
thinking that created the situation.”
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