Gettysburg College Sustainability Proposal
This is a joint project created by the 13 members of the Fall 2011 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Class at Gettysburg College. It was presented at Celebration 2012.
In the fall of 2011, the Environmental Studies capstone class led by Professor Rutherford Platt was asked to write Gettysburg College’s first Sustainability Plan. The goal of the plan was to develop specific sustainable practices for the campus that were related to the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental, and how integrating diligent sustainable practices into each of these respected pillars will result in a more conscious campus, community, and future. In 2010, Gettysburg College turned to the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to quantify the institution’s sustainability efforts, providing a self-check mechanism to encourage sustainability applications to all aspects of the College. The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment was signed in 2007 by former Gettysburg College President Katherine Haley Will, declaring that Gettysburg College would become carbon neutral by 2032. Gettysburg College has made large strides in the search for sustainability, and aims to continue its dedication to furthering sustainable practice. The following plan outlines the six priority areas identified by the Capstone class: progress of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Dining Services, campus green space, community outreach, integration of sustainability into the Gettysburg College Curriculum, and the Sustainability Advisory Committee.
The first priority area identified was monitoring and upholding the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Though creating new sustainability initiatives on campus is the driving force towards an increasingly sustainable college and community, it is imperative that these goals be carried out in full to maximize beneficial returns. In order to reach carbon neutrality, Gettysburg College hopes to increase energy efficiency in buildings, incorporate renewable energy sources on campus, and mitigate remaining emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets. To further the College’s progress, it is proposed that Gettysburg College continue its energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy, as well as create a policy to offset all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel for students study abroad. As stated by the ACUPCC, a Sustainability Committee should take responsibility for the updates and progress reports required to meet the goal of carbon neutrality.
The second priority area identified was sustainability in Dining Services. Gettysburg College is home to 2,600 students, all of whom require three full meals a day. Dining Services accounts for a large fraction of Gettysburg College’s sustainability efforts, already implementing sustainability through composting, buying local produce, and using biodegradable products. The proposed on-campus sales cuts of non-reusable to-go items, a change in campus mentality on food waste, and improved composting practices will translate to an increasingly sustainable campus, as well as a well-fed campus body.
The third priority was maintaining green space on campus. Ranked as the 23rd most beautiful campus in the United States by The Best Colleges, Gettysburg College utilizes campus green space to create an atmosphere that is conducive to activity as well as tranquility. The plan proposes that Gettysburg College and its grounds facilities continue their exceptional efforts, focusing on increasing the use of the student garden, creating a new rain garden or social area on campus, and converting unnecessary parking lots into green space. As these additions are completed, they must be introduced to the student body and faculty alike to assure these areas are known and utilized.
The fourth priority was utilizing community outreach to spread awareness of sustainability initiatives on and off campus. To connect the sustainability-geared changes proposed in this plan, community outreach at Gettysburg College is assessed to estimate how well these initiatives are communicated and promoted to both potential and enrolled students, faculty, and other concerned parties. To evaluate the efficiency of communication at Gettysburg College, a quantitative assessment is presented to measure the ease of finding the sustainability webpage, the quality of sustainability-related topics available on the webpage, and quality of webpage design. The webpage is in need of improved text to image ratios, locations of sustainability topics, and data displays. Despite not having a link to the sustainability webpage on the Gettysburg College homepage, sustainability events should be covered and presented on the rotational news feed found on the homepage to maximize outreach to interested parties or simply to add to the definition of Gettysburg College.
The fifth priority was integrating sustainability into the Curriculum to build a culture on campus that values academic rigor, supports students as they cultivate intellectual and civic passions, and promotes the development of healthy social relationships and behaviors. The proposed Sustainability Committee on Sustainability in the Curriculum (SCC) will hold sustainability workshops for faculty with the aim to instill sustainability into all academic disciplines, providing all Gettysburg graduates with a means to approach their professional careers in a fashion that is conscious of sustainability.
The sixth and last priority was the Sustainability Advisory Committee. Established in 2007, the Sustainability Advisory Committee is currently under review, but it is recommended that the committee restructure itself in accordance with the new Sustainability Committee Bylaws. These bylaws aim to define the purposes, membership, governance, and involvement with the college. With a clearly defined set of goals and methodology, the Sustainability Advisory Committee will be able to improve the solidarity of the sustainability movement on campus as a whole.
By following the propositions laid out in the Gettysburg College Sustainability Plan, the student body, faculty, and community alike will become a part of a multi-faceted progression toward a more sustainable future.