On a beautiful October afternoon, a large group of students gathered in front of Farinon, armed with posters reading “Sustainability Matters,” and “Together We Can Make a Change.” The students marched from Farinon to Markle Hall, where I was waiting for them on the steps. Characteristically energetic and well-organized Lafayette students, they had courteously informed the administration of their plans in advance.
The students’ timing was perfect, as we had just approved the new position of a full-time sustainability coordinator to support the work of administrators, faculty, and students who are already very active in this area. Sustainability is an issue of national and global importance that is likely to become even more critical in our students’ futures than it is today. As an educational institution, we have a responsibility to educate our community about responsible use of resources. Doing all we can to model sustainable practice ourselves is an important part of that mission.
We may find areas where changes in behavior or habits are needed—on the part of students who live on this campus, on the part of the faculty and staff who work here, and on the part of administrators who set policies and budgets for campus operations.
As a residential liberal arts college, Lafayette offers a perfect opportunity to use the campus itself as a laboratory for learning. An important goal of the newly launched Connected Communities program is to create curricular opportunities for a vibrant intellectual life that moves beyond the classroom into the residential setting and beyond. For example, in Environmental Studies 400, students are working with faculty to design a curriculum on sustainability and environmental issues that will be part of the first-year programming in each Commons next year. Following this fall’s course, a new CCP module will be tied to Earth Day and will encourage students to be more environmentally aware and engage in activities that support campus sustainability.
We are excited by the idea of sharing this educational journey. That is what draws us to Lafayette—the opportunity to be part of a community of inquiry in which we all learn from each other.