Sustainability and green construction are innovative recent trends that have taken off so vigorously they now are almost commonplace. When the faculty and staff at Colorado Mountain College brought the idea for an eco-friendly curriculum and sustainability efforts to campus last year, I thought this would put CMC on the cutting edge of innovation. Although it is meritorious that we move in this direction and become a leader among institutions of higher education, the fact is that sustainability efforts are becoming a necessity. If institutions don't move in this direction, they soon will be out of line with the rest of the country.
In looking at environmental issues, sustainability efforts, and the whole idea of "going green," educational institutions must not only address the sustainability efforts for the physical plant, but also must give consideration to re-aligning the curriculum. At the root of sustainability issues in the curriculum is the importance of educating our students in problem-solving based on morals, ethics and values.
Living in a sustainable and environmentally friendly world has profound implications for the types of relationships we establish and nurture with all life: plants, animals and fellow humans. Until we value the sacredness of all life and until the vital necessity of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all nations is realized, there will not be enough effect to curb ocean pollution, acid rain, deforestation, the extinction of species, global warming and the ultimate scourge of nuclear war. Addressing these issues from a moral perspective requires a shift in thinking from the traditional curriculum.
Although many colleges, universities and businesses are "going green," learning to live a truly sustainable life on a rapidly shrinking planet must touch every aspect of our value system. Sustainability means learning to change the way we relate and interact with all life and with each other individually, locally, nationally and internationally.
Dr. Kerry Hart is dean of Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. Contact him at 870-4414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.