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
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