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Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges Spurs Sustain...

Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges Spurs Sustainable Higher Education

The Princeton Review has added another tool in it’s arsenal for higher education applicants: a guide to environmentally-friendly schools. On the list of the ‘Guide to 322 Green Colleges,’ is a school in the Dallas-Ft. Worth (D-FW) metroplex: the University of Texas at Dallas. Created in partnership with the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the

The Princeton Review has added another tool in it’s arsenal for higher education applicants: a guide to environmentally-friendly schools. On the list of the ‘Guide to 322 Green Colleges,’ is a school in the Dallas-Ft. Worth (D-FW) metroplex: the University of Texas at Dallas.

University of Texas at Dallas Community Garden

Created in partnership with the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the guide’s qualifications include “ a strong commitment to sustainability in academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.” While listed schools have varying degrees of progress to report, all share a common commitment to dedicate resources to environmental responsibility. Noteworthy accomplishments are included in an elite ‘Honor Roll’ - with effective programs implemented across three facets universal to higher education: facilities, curriculum, and culture.

University of Texas at Dallas

The “Guide to 322 Green Colleges’ is the only free comprehensive and annually updated guide to ‘green’ universities in North America. However, to reflect the remaining diversity in sustainability strategy, another D-FW school, the University of Texas at Arlington (which is not listed in the USGBC-Princeton collection), has chosen to quantify their progress with an annual sustainability report. Verified by the Global Reporting Initiative, a leading international standard for corporate responsibility reporting, the University of Texas at Arlington’s report is in the minority of university-produced examples. Their 2012 report mirrors emerging corporate citizenship strategy, creating regularity in communication to stakeholders, with accountable measures.

Where a university administration chooses to invest will determine the nature of a school’s transformation. Investment in a college’s student culture will render a slow, but exponential return through shifts in lifestyle, while a facilities-focused approach will render quantifiable savings, but produce graduates without exposure to behavioral alternatives.

Which area do you think provides the greatest value in jump-starting sustainability in higher education: culture, facilities, or curriculum?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Christine Cepelak is an emerging sustainability and corporate social responsibility professional in the Dallas, Texas area. Interested in how communities can facilitate connection, well-being, and equality, she has spent time serving on location in a...

  • Great post! Arizona State University made the cut, but the guide really only highlighted the facilities aspect. In my opinion, ASU’s true “green” achievements have been in the curriculum and through private-public partnerships. ASU is home to the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), which stretches across all other schools and colleges, integrating sustainable principles into the core curricula. GIOS also undertakes a multitude of other initiatives, such as a sustainability consultancy service, a zerowaste program and a lot more! Facilities are important, but as a learning center, universities have an obligation to take “green” a lot further.

  • Hi Lynn! Thank you for commenting on here!:):)

    I’ve actually heard a lot about ASU, and am very impressed by the things I’ve seen from the GIOS. [They’re active on Twitter]

    But I agree, judging sustainability initiatives can be really tricky, and often lopsided. The Dallas school that’s on the list is actually my alma mater; and while I’m proud of its facility successes, as a student I would have loved to be more a part of the sustainability experience–taking classes and participating in research-related things.

  • Hi!

    Recent UTA graduate here! 🙂

    While UTA certainly has done some great things with sustainability (particularly the Green at College Park–probably my favorite place on campus), I think that there is much room for improvement, especially with the culture and curriculum.

    At UTA, there is not a widespread culture of sustainability, compared to the culture at, say, a school like UNT, where you can tell the school is passionate about sustainable choices, and not just as a feel-good factor. It’s embedded in their school’s culture, from what I have seen on my visits to their vegan cafeteria, Mean Greens. The majority of students who eat at Mean Greens aren’t even vegan–they are mostly students who are conscious about the impact of their food choices on their health and the environment.

    At UTA, student-led initiatives regarding such issues are not always met with much support from the administration. For example, a couple years ago, the Vegan Club and The Environmental Society (I was president of both groups at the time) collaborated with at least 5 other student orgs. to get the university to offer more healthy and vegan options, for various reasons, one of which was sustainability. Student Congress passed the motion unanimously, and the university implemented a veggie line, but its reliability isn’t great for the students. Speaking from experience, students usually have to go out of their way to find alternative options to benefit their bodies and the planet. UTA really should be encouraging their students to make healthy, sustainable choices on campus. The habits formed in college help shape the students’ lifestyle for the future.

    The community garden is a wonderful effort, but most students don’t even know about it because it’s so far from central campus. It’d be nice to see UTA highlighting the sustainable lifestyle in a more obvious way.

    As for the curriculum, we have some amazing sustainability-related classes from a variety of departments, and a wonderful Environmental & Sustainability Studies minor. The only problem is that the minor and these types of classes are not widely known to students. The University should put in more effort and resources to encourage students to take these classes.

    The Sustainability Office does great work and promotes sustainability, but they are small and have limited funds and resources (I feel UTA could give them more resources, for example, their office is based in an unused classroom). I think an integrated approach with the culture, curriculum, and facilities is really necessary for further progress.

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