INSIDE Chico State
0 April 18, 2002
Volume 32 Number 14
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
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Inside

STORIES

Calendar of Events

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Commentary

CSU, Chico: An environmental campus



Roger Lederer and Mark Stemen hope to make environmental literacy a required course.

Photo by Lisa Kirk

CSU, Chico, like many other universities, does not have a singular identity. We are known for some of our strong programs, our commitment to teaching, distance education, attractive campus, welcoming and supportive atmosphere, and, unfortunately, for things such as St. Patrick’s and Halloween celebrations and the party school appellation. But we have been moving in a direction that might distinguish us positively as well as make positive contributions to the world.

In the past several years, the university, from various quarters, has moved into the environmental realm. We have created bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental science and a minor in environmental studies, hired environmental scientists and educators, and oversee more than 4,000 acres of land in three entities: Butte Creek Ecological Reserve, Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, and the Eagle Lake Field Station. Many faculty are involved in environmentally related projects, bringing in substantial sums to the Research Foundation. A large endowment enabled us to establish the Rawlins Endowed Professorship in Environmental Literacy, which will eventually support a full-time faculty position. The Bidwell Environmental Institute was created to oversee and coordinate the research, reserves, and educational efforts in the environmental realm across the university (see http://www.csuchico.edu/bei).

The Associated Students Environmental Affairs Council is an active group of students who, among other accomplishments, created an environmental library and will be sponsoring an environmental film series and an environmental job fair this year. And, of course, you have seen the A.S. recycling efforts—a half million pounds last year.

But it is not only the academic side of the house that is interested in the environment. Facilities Management and Services has made considerable efforts to make energy usage more efficient on campus and reduce the use of toxic chemicals on campus. And University Housing collects items left after students move out, donating the reusable goods to local charities.

Environmental issues have been seriously considered by the public mind for more than 30 years, and they will continue to be. Global warming, water and air pollution, energy shortages, and many other issues will not be solved soon. The environment is being continually degraded, and, if this continues, the environment will be the issue as our very survival depends on it. The answer is education—the education not only of students interested in environmental science and studies, but all students, as they will make the future decisions that will affect our environment. And not just students, but faculty and staff as well, as they need to set personal and professional examples for our students.

There are many efforts on this campus we can point to that indicate we are indeed an environmental campus. Not just in attitude, but in action. We need to sustain that effort and let others know what we are doing. We need to give our actions more exposure, and we need to take steps to officially recognize those and encourage more. Mathematics, English, and computer literacy are understandably required as is knowledge of ethnic and non-Western cultures and the workings of our government. Environmental literacy is at least as important.

On this year’s Associated Students election ballot there will be an advisory initiative to establish a required general education environmental literacy class; 1,300 student signatures were gathered to put the initiative on the ballot. We are in the process of designing such a class and hope that environmental literacy will become one of the fundamental cores of knowledge on this campus—an increasingly green campus.

Roger Lederer, endowed professor of environmental literacy Mark Stemen, Environmental Action and Resource Center

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