A Publication for the faculty, staff, administrators and friends of California State University, Chico
September 9, 2004 Volume 35/Number 1

A monthly commentary by Mark Stemen and Jim Pushnik

CSU, Chico is assuming an environmental leadership role within the CSU, and the goal of those of us at the center of the effort is to engage everyone on campus. Our desire is to make you aware of the many environmental efforts on this campus, and invite you to join in the fun. We are excited about the upcoming semester. We believe this is a breakout year in the “greening of the campus,” and we want to keep everyone involved.

The transformation has begun. A major catalyst was the creation of the Rawlins Endowed Professor of Environmental Literacy. Started with a generous gift from Jack Rawlins, a local businessman, the Rawlins Professor will “attempt to prepare all students of all majors, across all campus disciplines, for dealing with a world environment, which is being continually diminished by the loss of species, disappearance of habitat, and degradation of air, water, and soil.” As a first step, last year the Rawlins Professor oversaw the creation of new General Education course for Area E, ENVL 005: Environmental Literacy. The class is only one sign of a broad shift in focus.

The entire campus is engaged in environmentally friendly efforts. The new Student Services building will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system) building in the CSU. LEED is expected to certify the building at the “Gold” level, another first for California. The Associated Students put together one of the best campus recycling programs in the state, with 400 collection locations on campus. In support of these recycling efforts, Vice President Graham created the Campus Conservation Committee to oversee waste issues. Overall campus diversion is at 47 percent, exceeding state requirements. Now the A.S. is looking into solar power. University Housing jumped in with a new Environmental Ambassador program in the Residence Hall Association Government. The Research Foundation contributed to the effort by creating the Bidwell Environmental Institute. The list goes on and on.

In response to this high level of interest, the university picked an environmental text for the Book in Common program: Lester Brown’s Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. Brown is an award-winning author and founder of the Worldwatch Institute. Plan B is being adopted in about 30 classes. The book provides a wonderful metaphor for discussion. The title comes from the phrase, “Plan A is not working. What is Plan B?” We hope it will stimulate extended dialogue across campus.

To facilitate discussion the Environmental Literacy class will again offer weekly seminars. Last semester in ENVL 005: Environmental Literacy, we had success with an open seminar on Wednesdays where faculty from across campus presented environmental issues from their disciplinary perspective to our students and anyone else who was interested. We called it the Rawlins Environmental Literacy Lecture Series. This semester we are asking faculty to give their disciplinary perspective on Plan B. The seminars are Wednesdays at 10 a.m. in Plumas 205 and are open to the entire campus community. We hope you will join us for one or all of the sessions.
In upcoming columns we will describe the Campus Sustainability Assessment, North State Renewable Energy and the EPA, the Sustainability in Higher Education Conference, Plan B update, and new curriculum reforms across campus. Until then. . . .

Note: Mark Stemen is co-cordinator of the Environmental Studies Program, and Jim Pushnik holds the Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literacy

 

 

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