This sounds like pretty heady stuff, and it is. But as the provost hinted, engaging in sustainability practices is not altogether new at IC. The College already had many fitting ecological initiatives in place:
- The Resource and Environmental Management Program (REMP) has existed for many years. It supports student research projects on sustainability and makes recommendations for improvements. Its successes include campuswide conversion to 30 percent postconsumer recycled content for all office paper, implementation of a comprehensive environmental plan, and the purchase this spring of the College's first hybrid vehicle.
- Ithaca College was the first institution in the country with a comprehensive com post facility (see "Making Brown Gold, ICQ 2000/3), which not only saves money and makes ecological sense, but is also a terrific educational tool. For example, points out biology professor Susan Allen-Gil, "This spring, students tested the ability of the compost facility to handle cellulose flatware and paper plates, evaluating the feasibility of switching from disposables to compostables for functions."
- The Applying Science to Sustainability grant from the National Science Foundation (2002-2005) is funding faculty
curriculum development to infuse sustainability into coursework and underwrite speakers on sustainability topics.
- The partnership between the environmental studies program and EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI) integrates best practices in green building, energy conservation,
land preservation and restoration, organic agriculture, and hands-on education (see
"Education for Sustainability," ICQ 2003/1).
- The IC-EVI collaboration, headed by biology's Allen-Gil, Tom Shevory of politics, and Garry Thomas of anthropology, stimulated the formation of Sustainable Tompkins, a grass-roots initiative to foster the multiple dimensions of sustainability
in the county, which is home to nearly 100,000 people. Many IC faculty, staff,
and students are active members.
- The IC-EVI partnership launched a monthly Sustainable Café series of discussions facilitated by IC faculty and community leaders.
- Public events have featured guest speakers of national prominence such as Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity and founder of Global Living Project; David Orr, director of environmental studies at Oberlin College; Ed Quevedo, director of environmental management and sustainability programs at WSP Environmental; and Sandra Steingraber, author of widely acclaimed books on toxic chemicals, environmental degradation, and their impact on human development. (Steingraber is now a visiting distinguished professor at the College through next year, and her book Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment was selected as the text for this summer's first-year reading program.)
- The College and EVI have joined with other organizations and are now sponsors of the well-known annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.