The sustainability campaigns on American college campuses, which we have covered for about as long as they have existed, may seem more ubiquitous than pledge drives on PBS. Nevertheless, some scholars think they haven’t gone far enough.
“We are currently on track to having the hottest year ever, breaking the record established last year,” Marcus Peter Ford writes on the Academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “We also set records for warmth in 2013 and 2014.”
“And yet, to date, climate change has had little impact on how we understand the purpose of higher education. On university campuses, almost no attention has been given to transitioning our global society into one that is ecologically sustainable and just. In their current manifestations universities emphasize employment, scholarship, research, and personal enrichment as their educational missions. Under different circumstances, these are admirable goals. But in a time of global environmental crisis, they are not sufficient.”
“Institutions of high education ought to serve the greatest needs of the civilization in which they exist. The greatest need of our civilization today is understanding how to live justly and joyously within the bounds of the natural world. In my recent essay in the September–October Academe, ‘Education for the Common Good,’ I argue that we must create a different kind of university.”
Ford, who is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, is trying to do just that. Let’s hope that he doesn’t get snowed in.