Although I have become more familiar with sustainability and permaculture over the last few years, I have not until now understood how colleges and universities can and have made a difference in our pursuit of a sustainable world. I was really impressed with how much online colleges could accomplish in a world of sustainable design. For example, using recycled materials for the new APUS building and placing sand and gravel under porous pavers in the new parking lots to help filter water runoff. Colleges like this that provides bike racks and special parking spaces for hybrid and electric cars will help encourage and promote the idea of a sustainable world (APUS, 2010).
I was surprised at the number of colleges across the world that has adopted sustainable practices. According to Elder and MacGregor, “The greatest gains to date have occurred in campus operations, particularly in energy conservation and renewable energy, sustainable building design, water conservation, purchasing, transportation, and chemicals and waste management (Elder & MacGregor, 2008, p.3).”
Because colleges offer so much in the areas of research and development in sustainable design, the communication of these innovations, and the teaching of future generations, I think it is imperative that these institutions continue to be supported in their sustainable efforts across the world.
Many government grants are given to colleges in the hopes of finding innovative ways of creating sustainable energy and designs. This application of sustainability by colleges is definitely critical to the future of our world.
The success of many colleges and their sustainable programs across the world is demonstrating that progress is being made. Although we are in the initial stages of sustainable practices, we have at least started to incorporate environmental, economic, and social sustainable practices within many colleges throughout the world.
In contrast, Henson, Missimer, and Muzzy argue that most attempts at sustainable practices at colleges across the world have focused only on environmental sustainability (Henson, Missimer, & Muzzy, 2007). These authors report that a more “systems thinking” approach within colleges and across the world, like the one at APUS, is needed in order to include all three aspects of sustainability.
This actually coincides with one of sustainability’s definitions that it is the interconnectedness or relationship between the environment, the economy, and the community (Williams, D., 2007). Although colleges across the world do not teach permaculture, the permaculture movement follows this definition and has begun to influence world colleges in their efforts toward sustainable practices and programs.
The future of colleges and sustainable practices appears to be very good throughout the world. The success of these programs and the increasing number of colleges that are joining the bandwagon are just one indication that we are moving forward within our world with this application of sustainable practices.
Because it is well known that colleges produce innovative solutions to the problems of the world in many aspects, I can only conclude that the future in a sustainable world is favorable and constructive outcomes within colleges and across the world should prevail. If world sustainable practices are to take hold, colleges throughout the world need to be supported in their efforts.
For related topics see
“Save the Environment: Why Government needs to Focus More on Large Population Cities Rather than on Wilderness Areas”
“Is Permaculture the Hope for a Sustainable Future?”
“Water: Our Most Valuable and Vulnerable Resource”
“Advertising and the Consumer Equals Disaster for the Environment”
For other topics by this contributor please see http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/743371/teresa_erwin.html
Authors’ Disclaimer: While every caution has been taken to provide my readers with the most accurate information, please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information in this article.
American Public University System (APUS) (2010). Climate Action Plan. https://online.apus.edu/educator/temp/dq2097/evsp561d001sum10/ReadingFolderWeek2/American
Elder, J., & MacGregor, J., (2008). The Sustainability Movement in Higher Education: An Overview. http://mobilizingstem.wceruw.org/documents/The%20Sustainaiblity%20Movement%20and%20Appendices.pdf
Henson, M., Missimer, M., & Muzzy, S. (2007). The campus sustainability movement: A strategic perspective. School of Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology. Karlskrona, Sweden. http://www.bth.se/fou/cuppsats.nsf/all/b0f8e324039811c4c12572f200781f69/$file/CSMThesis_MH_MM_SM.pdf
Williams, D. (2007). Sustainable design. Ecology, architecture, and planning. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.