Getting to Green

An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

July 20, 2011 - 9:30pm
If we're going to challenge Greenback's students to design (at least in concept) a more sustainable regional transit system, we need to tell them up front just how we're going to judge the results. One obvious possibility is to calculate transit-related greenhouse gas emissions, and give the most points to the design which seems likely to minimize those. I don't particularly want to do that.
July 18, 2011 - 5:00pm
It occurs to me that, if I'm to have any success getting Greenback U, as a community, to envision a sustainable future for itself, I need to get lots and lots of students (faculty, too, but I think the students are more important at first) involved. Thus, I either have to budget for vast quantities of beer -- to be dispensed both freely and free -- or I need to turn this whole thing into a game. (The 'game' approach seems likely to result in less trouble with the law.)
July 15, 2011 - 4:15pm
One of the challenges that campuses will face if they seriously try to become models for future -- sustainable -- society is that nobody really knows what a sustainable developed society might look like. Oh, we know what it won't look like. And we, each of us, can call out characteristics we think it will exhibit, but there's certainly no consensus -- even among sustainability wonks --around a practicable vision of sustainable society.
July 12, 2011 - 12:15pm
Climate change. Energy supply. Economic activity. Employment. Public health. Water pollution. Species die-off. Penn State. Pitt. Cornell. Research. Public funding. Industry funding. Policy. Regulation. Taxation. Is it OK for academics to be advocates on one side of a political issue? Is there a standard for the base of evidence that must exist before academic advocacy is appropriate? Is that standard uniform, regardless of whether the advocacy is for or against the side of the issue the powers-that-fund prefer?
July 8, 2011 - 3:30pm
There are just too many ideas swirling around in my mind for me to be succinct. Or, probably, even clear. First, there's the whole "sustainability as the opposite of flow/enjoyment" thing.
July 7, 2011 - 6:31am
I was reading through a monograph on game design recently, and came across a paragraph quoted from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. The topic is sustained human enjoyment, something that game designers need to be able to create. More than just "enjoyment", really -- more like what an athlete feels when (s)he is "in the zone" and performing at a peak level.
July 5, 2011 - 10:00pm
There's been a lot of political (and a modicum of economic) jabber about "green jobs". And it's certainly true that any national or worldwide initiative to actually minimize the impacts of climate change would generate large-scale employment and larger-scale profits. But the national employment picture will improve as a result of climate change, pretty much regardless. At least, parts of it will.
June 28, 2011 - 4:00pm
In my spare time, I've been reading "Global Warming Gridlock: Clearer, More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet", by David Victor. Victor teaches at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD.
June 24, 2011 - 12:45pm
It's not my job to ruin your summer vacation. Really. But it is my job to point out that pandering to the nation's current summer vacation habits is bad for the USA. Also humanity. And most charismatic large fauna. And US maple syrup production. (Feeling guilty yet? The politicians clearly aren't.)
June 22, 2011 - 4:15pm
Changing behavior, culture, expectations, perceptions is selling. As a sustainability wonk, selling might not be what comes naturally, but it's still a big part of the job. Off campus, the selling of the green that's most obvious takes place in the market for environmentally preferable products (real or imagined). Those of us who are amateurs at this game can, I hope, learn from the professionals.

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