Whether you are observing energy efficient lighting in the library, an inundation of bikers on the sidewalk, or recycle bins multiplying across campus, one thing is certain: HWS are getting greener by the second!
On April 2, the Colleges launched new green initiatives, celebrated their ongoing commitment to the environmental movement and concluded the festivities with President Forum Series guest Dr. Anthony Cortese addressing the community about “Creating a Just and Sustainable Society: A 21st Century Opportunity.”
“It is about doing things that go beyond yourself and committing yourself to public service,” said Cortese, co-director of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, during a speech about the importance of environmentally conscious action and policy in higher education.
“You have taken on the responsibility to create a better life for everybody. This is an incredible leadership step,” stated Cortes, acknowledging the Colleges’ endorsement of the Climate Commitment in September.
After recognizing the strides already made by HWS, Cortese spoke about issues on a larger scale such as the inability to predict changes in the climate, the importance of living off nature’s income and the effects of global warming. He argued that we must maintain habitability so that humanity survives. After providing evidence to support that global resources are declining while the consumption of life-supporting resources is escalating, he stressed the detrimental results that would occur if trends continue.
“Oftentimes, we react if something is going to happen immediately, but not if the outcome is slowly occurring,” said Cortese. “Revising global warming is a defining challenge of the 21st century that we must address.”
After drawing attention to the issue at hand, Cortese outlined what must be done to halt adverse effects and the critical role that higher education must play in order for positive outcomes to ensue. He urged those on college and university campuses to create a national movement that would drive the rest of society. He identified transportation, energy, buildings and food as some of the key focus areas in which campuses can deal with emission and emphasized the need to alter the educational experience so that it includes sustainability.
“We need to look at sustainability as a goal of higher education and use campuses as a model for the rest of society,” Cortese stated. “No matter what your future occupation may be, you need to think about the consequences that others may encounter over time. We must train you, the learners, future leaders and global citizens, to obtain a thriving society. This is our civilizational challenge.”