Higher Education Webinars

Getting to Green

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

November 14, 2012 - 3:57pm
Sometimes, when I try to get my mind around what it will take to make Greenback (or, indeed, any college or university) an exemplar of sustainability, I gets overwhelmed.  It's still necessary, because if we don't know what we're trying to achieve then we can't tell whether we're making progress or not.  And simplistic, one-dimensional goals can be worse than no goal at all.
November 5, 2012 - 2:35pm
Last Monday, Hurricane Sandy was still being spoken of in the mainstream media as a threat to the East Coast.  By late Tuesday, the vocabulary had changed -- Sandy was a "super-storm", flooding was pervasive and (for too many) fatal, and climate change was here and now.  Denialists may not have changed their tunes all that much, but (at least in my perception) the tide (sorry about that, folks) of public climate discourse in North America had turned.  The operative phrase seemed to be "new normal".  Nobody who used it was smiling.
October 25, 2012 - 7:49am
At one of the lunches provided at last week's AASHE conference, I was involved in a conversation with an opposite number from another campus when -- from across a crowded room -- I had a flash of insight.  Or I caught a flash of something and formed an insight.  Probably 5 or 6 years after it should have occurred to me anyway.
October 23, 2012 - 8:47pm
As noted in my last post, I wasn't overwhelmed by last week's AASHE conference.  But that's not to say that there weren't high points, that there weren't positive notes.  There were.
October 22, 2012 - 5:13pm
I spent last week getting to, attending, and then getting back from this year's AASHE conference in Los Angeles.  As I headed west, I had planned to post pretty much every day, giving my reactions to things I'd experienced at the conference.  But as reality overcame expectation, I found I didn't really have anything to say on a daily basis.  Indeed, it took me a while to form an opinion on the conference which -- like all conferences everywhere, it seems -- offered some interesting moments within a generally unremarkable context.
October 8, 2012 - 11:45am
It must suck to be that guy in the commercial.  The commercial which (until we're inevitably humbled by an even more extreme example) seems the ultimate expression of "you are what you buy" materialism.  In fact, it goes beyond "you are what you buy", to attain previously unscaled heights of "you are how you buy", and "you are how much you buy".
October 4, 2012 - 4:59pm
OK, I'm prejudiced.  I don't much care for factory-raised meat (or produce, for that matter).  That's one of the reasons why I have a big freezer in the garage.  (Chest type.  Energy efficient.  In the unheated garage so that five months out of the year it uses almost no electricity at all.)
September 27, 2012 - 2:41pm
I was talking to an administrative director at Greenback recently. He's a pretty good guy, and he wants to help the U out with the "whole sustainability thing", but to his mind a large portion of that boils down to "recycle more". What I really wanted to say was "no, recycle less!  Recycling more is the least good of the non-bad options!"  It would just have confused (and probably irritated him), so I held back.
September 13, 2012 - 3:46pm
Lots of what sustainability administrators do is administrative/operational.  Most of the rest is strategic (as noted previously).  But what I've noticed is that what I'm working on -- or at least the level of abstraction that I'm working on -- affects how I communicate with folks.  It's not absolutely determinative, but it's a major influence.  My alleged mind requires time and effort to shift between the pragmatic and the abstract.
September 10, 2012 - 4:19pm
After talking to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of sustainability staff on a wide range of campuses, I've come to the conclusion that almost all of them fall into one of two categories: either they're administrators or they're strategists.  (OK, that's a gross over-generalization, but when have I let a little thing like that stop me?)  

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