G. Rendell

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Most Recent Articles

May 30, 2013
Sharing is good, and bikes are good, but bike-sharing can be tricky.
May 23, 2013
Some success criteria if the organization is to thrive.
May 16, 2013
Challenges for a sustainability organization for higher ed.
May 2, 2013
Questions about a capstone project....
April 25, 2013
Thinking about Boston and history....
April 11, 2013
One of the oft-unspoken norms around here is that economies of scale exist, so bigger is more efficient than smaller.  Another, of course, is that efficiency is a good thing.  But a temporarily overlooked (at least, by sustainability wonks) report out of the Edison Electric Institute seems to say that neither scale nor efficiency is necessarily advantageous.
April 4, 2013
If the root cause of our sustainability problem set (not just climate change, but neither excluding climate change) is societal behavior patterns and the habits of thought that facilitate them, then there's no institution better positioned than higher ed to address the problem.  Yet, for practical purposes, we seem not to be doing so in any significant manner.  Most of the sustainability-related research of which I'm aware focuses on metrics ("how bad is the problem this week?"), mechanics ("how do these two elements of the problem seem to interact?") or technology ("how can we continue to do -- as much as possible -- what we've been doing, while decreasing the negative unintended consequences?").  The researchers, almost without exception, consider themselves to be seriously engaging with the problems at hand.  And, within the conventional mindset, they are.  But it's the conventional mindset that got us into this mess.
March 28, 2013
My previous post explained how a portion of the sustainability community is coming to view our challenge not primarily as an environmental issue but as a societal one.  The difference is far more significant than just its effect on the wording we use in our job descriptions and performance reviews -- it fundamentally reshapes the relationship between higher education and issues of sustainability, and vastly expands higher ed's capacity to address the problem.  Let me try to explain.
March 21, 2013
David Roberts at Grist recently posted a good, if not entirely earth-shaking, analysis titled "Two reasons climate change is not like other environmental problems".  His main points are that carbon dioxide -- the main greenhouse gas -- is not like other air pollutants in that it tends to persist, and that changes to climate -- once they take effect -- are effectively irreversible in any timeframe relevant to human experience.
March 14, 2013
From time to time, I'm invited to visit our local ag/tech college, which trains quite a number of students to enter the food service industry at levels where you never have to ask whether someone wants fries with that. Program faculty, of course, cover all the material about industry standards and standardized procedures and more-or-less standard approaches to management.  But they've kind enough to ask me in to speak about sustainability considerations, and I really enjoy interacting with students who learn (and think, and create) in hands-on mode.


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