Since 2003, the Office of the Provost has provided the major financial and staff support for the Sustainability Initiative at Ithaca College. Sustainability is not only a new content area for faculty and students to explore within academic disciplines, this new paradigm also offers myriad opportunities to demonstrate how institutions themselves learn and develop.
At Ithaca College, we have framed "sustainability" not as an idealistic "endpoint", but rather as a decision-making framework for continuous improvement. Within that framework, when thinking about a choice to be made or an action to be taken, one is tasked to mentally perform a more complete evaluation by asking oneself the following three questions:
- Is this action good for people (not just yourself, but others impacted by your choices)?
- Will what I'm considering doing be good for the environment? (or not harmful)
- Does this decision make business sense?
If you can answer "yes" to all three of those questions, the odds are very good that you will make a more balanced, more sustainable decision. And each time you make a more sustainable choice, you proceed a little farther down a continuous improvement path toward excellence.
But in order to answer those three questions honestly, it requires due diligence to explore the potential ramifications of seemingly simple actions. You need at least some understanding of the dynamics inherent in complex, interconnected systems. Striving to make more sustainable decisions requires an openness to new ideas and a willingness to become a "life-long" learner, as the answers to those three simple questions become increasingly difficult... and interesting.
To learn more about how Ithaca College is striving to become a more sustainable organization, visit Sustainability at Ithaca.