SRJC advocates for sustainability

Maci Martell, Assistant News Editor

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Environmental sustainability depends on locality and community involvement, according to Dr. Geoffrey Chase in a lecture presented April 20 in the Santa Rosa Junior College Newman Auditorium.

Chase, dean of undergraduate studies at San Diego State University, noted the challenges involved with maintaining college campus sustainability include fiscal constraints, professional accountability and working with multiple curricula.

Chase said we could start addressing these issues by building and maintaining an aspirational culture and focusing on what we can learn instead of just what we already know. “This is hard work, but we can do more,” he said.

Chase is a founding board member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and is involved in other programs, which incorporate sustainability education within college curricula across the nation.

The key factors Chase outlined in his presentation to transform higher education were leadership and commitment, professional and personal accountability and defining the paradigm for change.

Vice President of Sustainability Cheri McLean asked for suggestions on how to be innovative on campus to meet our personal sustainability needs.

“It takes constant reframing,” Chase said. He spoke of the importance of constructive leadership and maintaining and extending current commitments to foster innovation.

Dean of Student Affairs Robert Ethington noted the shift in demand by our community in how we create a culture of sustainability.

Environmental science instructor Katie Gerber reiterated the necessity of constant change and focusing on the issues that are most relevant to us. “We have to find our own style, our own mission,” she said.

Gerber said the hardest part of developing solutions to be more sustainable and efficient is encouraging students to get involved and come up with ideas together.

McLean advocated for the approval of the student lounge referendum to create a community among the students where they may share and develop ideas towards greater sustainability on campus.

SRJC has already taken progressive steps towards environmental sustainability, which includes installing LED lights, solar panels and a water bottle filling station on campus.

Chase said we could do more by understanding the consequences of our actions individually and collectively, and constantly be developing strategies.

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