Preserving the environment requires a promotion of the knowledge and good practices about being environmentally friendly. What better place than an educational environment to serve as a model for eco-friendly operations management? Institutions like universities have the financial capacity, and eager young student body, to promote environmental protection. Furthermore, they can enlist the volunteerism of students, faculty, and staff to promote sustainability causes and to bring their knowledge into practice in the real world after graduation. In other words, it is critical that educational institutions establish university-wide environmental initiatives that set the standard for today’s student generation.
Sustainability: A Challenge, or a Responsibility?
Many trustees at educational institutions understand the switch to more sustainable operations as a burden, especially financially. However many universities are accepting the challenge to upgrade to a more eco-friendly system of operations and architecture design that can make a huge impact. This upgrade is especially beneficial in campuses that feature very old buildings which may hold some prestige as they are historical, yet architects today are very adept at designing plans that maintain the beauty and authentic nature of a building while ensuring that the heating, insulation, water and waste management, and other systems inside of the buildings are friendlier to the environment. Though an original investment might need to be made, contractors are eager to work with universities in order to save money in the long run through energy-efficient technology and construction.
Raising Awareness Through Coursework
Some universities require that students contribute a set number of special volunteer hours to projects run on campus that teach the benefits of recycling, reducing waste, preserving resources, and appreciating the environment. Other schools try an approach that is set through mandatory coursework that covers environmental issues. These kinds of courses also build the capacity of students in the field of advocacy, training them in good collaborative practices and encouraging them to speak up about environmental wrongs. Often professors try to connect the new green trends with political movements and shifts within the field of science, which helps the topic seem appealing to those students who would not otherwise choose Environmental Science seminars for their course schedules.
The most important part of awareness-raising coursework is taking teaching moments outside of the classroom, since students learn best by putting their ideas into action. Coursework that centers around green practices can culminate in the completion of final projects that affect the greater community, which are not only beneficial to the environment but also generate attention for causes such as minimizing pollution and protecting wildlife. These causes do not necessarily need to be connected to the Green political party movement, though most universities have a tendency to lean more towards the liberal end of the political spectrum than most other institutions. Even though universities rarely take a stance on politics in general, usually being environmentally-friendly is an issue that everyone can proudly stand behind.
Advocacy through Action: Universities Setting the Example
The university often serves as the example that the rest of the greater community looks to for inspiration and motivation to practice environmentally-friendly habits. Universities have a lot of work to do over the coming decades to ensure that coursework and learning modules are modified to teach about new practices in preserving our planet. In the meantime, small steps can be taken: reducing energy and paper waste within the library settings, promoting energy-efficient transportation methods around campus and the local region, composting food waste generated at the cafeterias, and doing community trash clean-ups. Many local non-governmental organizations are willing and eager to partner with universities as consultants in order to help educational institutions decide what methods would be best for their particular budget and needs.
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