Institutions of higher education represent many things to many different people. They are temples of learning, understanding and growth, centers for research and discovery, homes away from home during some of the most formative years of young adulthood and, often, beacons of leadership on challenging and controversial issues. When it comes to the mitigation of climate change, it seems only natural that the higher education sector play a leadership role.
Second Nature is a nonprofit committed to channeling the potential of college and university leadership to combat climate change and create a more sustainable future. This year, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC has partnered with Second Nature for the Climate Leadership Awards, a national competition among higher education institutions that are signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.
At the end of July, a list of seven two-year institutions and 12 four-year institutions were announced as finalists. The leaders of these schools are taking charge and making real changes on campus to turn the tide of inaction and to engage students, faculty and staff as problem-solvers. They demonstrate innovative thinking and action, create opportunities and prepare their students to be champions of sustainability.
This year’s finalists are as follows:
- Alamo Colleges, TX
- Cedar Valley College, TX
- Central New Mexico Community College, NM
- College of Lake County, IL
- SUNY Sullivan, NY
- SUNY Jefferson Community College, NY
- Western Technical College, WI
- Agnes Scott College, GA
- Appalachian State University, NC
- California State University, Northridge, CA
- Furman University, SC
- Huston-Tillotson University, TX
- Loyola University Chicago, IL
- Southern Oregon University, OR
- The George Washington University, DC
- University at Buffalo (SUNY), NY
- University of California, Merced, CA
- University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
There will be two award winners, one from a four-year institution and one from a two-year institution.
The efforts being made by college and university presidents to create real and lasting change are a critical piece of the larger climate change puzzle. By recognizing those bold enough to make public commitments to change and strong enough to follow through on them, the Climate Leadership Awards bring to light the important role the higher education sector has to play in the development of a more sustainable future.