Education important weapon in fight to save the Earth
Climate change and resource depletion aren’t the only problems the Earth faces.
Also important: “the failure of our educational system to prepare members of our society to comprehend and confront these challenges,” says a report by the UIC Sustainability Thinking Steering Committee.
Two-and-a-half years in the making, “To Green and Beyond: Excellence through Sustainability at UIC,” suggests how UIC can help save the planet through teaching and research, as well as daily campus operations.
The committee says we need to do more than recycle, bike, walk, eat locally grown foods and conserve energy. Universities have a responsibility to teach society about the urgency and scale of the problem, and change attitudes to overcome the “business as usual” approach.
“Sustainability will become part of UIC’s brand, not only generating new opportunities, but also attracting students who are committed to its principles. As an urban serving research university with an exceptionally diverse population, UIC is well positioned to lead by example,” the report says.
The committee’s first step will be to inventory UIC’s courses, co-curricular activities, research activities and consumption. Later, it will recommend ways to:
- integrate sustainability into college programs
- develop a sustainability major, minor and certificate
- get funding for sustainability research
- fund “citizen science” in nearby communities
- partner with industry on research
- enhance UIC’s green practices in waste management, transportation, water and energy use, and campus planning.
The committee is co-chaired by Cynthia Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability, and Saul Weiner, vice provost for planning and programs. Members include campus administrators and faculty in environmental science, physics, urban planning, public health, anthropology and arts. A 60-member advisory committee includes faculty, staff and interns from throughout UIC, and graduate students in urban planning and public administration.