Monday, July 30, 2007

Sustainability in Education

Sustainability as a topic of conversation in the world of education--in both programs and operations--is moving from the fringes to center stage. I recently attended the Bay Area Regional Workforce Development Consortia’s summer meeting in Burlingame (CA) where explorations of sustainability, renewable energy, and alternative fuels drove the dialogue. David Esmaili from West Valley College gave a compelling presentation about their curriculum efforts and operational initiatives. Check out their Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy page to get a good overview of their efforts.

Of course they are not alone. Many K-12 school districts, community colleges, and universities nationally and internationally are taking on efforts to help students explore sustainability, prepare for careers that enable sustainability, and learn in environments that leverage sustainable energy strategies. Examples include and can be found in the projects of the Partnership for Environment Technology Education, the Center for Sustainable Energy, and the National Renewable Energy Lab (I particularly like their student resources). Of course the US Department of Energy has a good resource page – particularly for those interested in outfitting their campus to be more energy efficient.

The benefits are clear: (1) good careers for students, (2) clean and sustainable campuses for our faculty, staff, and administrators, and (3) increased competitiveness for our communities, states, and nations. The question is: have you catalyzed the conversation on sustainability—on both the programmatic and operational levels—at your institution?