Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event every October 15 when bloggers around the world unite in writing about the same issue on the same day. This year’s topic is climate change. We are pleased to join with more than 7,000 other blogs in 136 nations in writing about this very important issue from the university perspective.
When the Princeton Review develops a new rating system for its college guide, it’s a sure sign that the issue is important to students (and their parents) who are making decisions about where to apply for college. In 2007, the Green Rating criteria made its debut. It covers three broad areas: 1) whether a school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable 2) how well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges, and 3) the school’s overall commitment to environmental issues. This year, 15 colleges made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll, which means they received the highest possible score of 99.
But the Princeton Review is not the only organization looking at universities’ environmental practices. Peterson’s recently issued its Green Guide to Colleges, which it calls the “ultimate guide to colleges’ sustainability efforts.” The new guide features 600 colleges and universities that it says are leading the way in defining sustainability solutions on their campuses and, in turn, providing ideas and resources for communities around the nation.
Now the commitment to sustainability has reached the very top echelons of higher education. The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is an effort to address climate change by encouraging schools to go climate neutral and step up research aimed at finding solutions to global warming. The program already has 650 signatory schools, but it reached a new milestone last month when 87 colleges and universities announced their Climate Action Plans. This reportedly was the largest group to simultaneously make a commitment to specific activities that address global warming.
The University of North Carolina was among those submitting its Climate Action Plan outlining a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, and plans a 2009 Campus Sustainability Day to showcase its efforts on October 27. Wake Forest University also is taking action and established its own Office of Sustainability earlier this year.
It is fitting that universities should lead the way not only in researching solutions to climate change, but also in taking measures to address sustainability on their own campuses. And as the new college guides show, prospective students and their parents are taking the issue very seriously too.