The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Students encouraged to become involved in reducing CSUN’s ecological footprint for future generations

With the wave of going green becoming increasingly popular, the Institute for Sustainability at CSUN is thriving as it continues to help the environment and inform students of the importance to erase their ecological footprints and help preserve the world for future generations.

“The Institute was established by (Provost Harry Hellenbrand) in October 2008 to address issues of sustainability in the curriculum, in campus operations and in research,” said Helen Cox, director for the Institute for Sustainability. “Its mission is to promote, facilitate and develop educational, research and university and community programs related to sustainability. The institute serves as an umbrella organization across all the colleges of the university on issues related to sustainability including environmental, social and economic issues.”

In addition, Cox stresses the importance of having such an institute as well as the major roles that sustainability plays in different fields of study.

“Sustainability crosses disciplinary lines,” Cox said. “There are issues of sustainability related to building, to engineering, to ecology, policy, business, tourism etc. Therefore, one cannot simply throw sustainability into a single department and expect students to understand all of these inter-relationships.”

Although in the past year the institute has carried out or assisted in various campus initiatives including the establishment of a campus food garden, plans to bring a transit center to campus, a carbon footprint of campus, an inventory of all the trees on campus, an analysis of energy and water use on campus, the initiation of a new minor in sustainability and many more, Cox said there is still a multitude to be done.

“Some measures have already been implemented and others are in the research stages but the institute plans to help improve recycling on campus, reduce the university’s carbon footprint, increase the use of public transport, carpooling and bicycling and run a sustainable food garden,” Cox said. “As far as curriculum goes, a new minor in sustainability is under review by the university curriculum committees and a proposal for a graduate program in sustainability will be forthcoming. The College of Engineering is also planning a Sustainable Engineering program.”

Mechelle Best, assistant professor of Recreation and Tourism and member of the core greening committee said she believes there are many ways that students are benefiting from their involvement with the institute.

“Involvement with the institute will help students to contribute to improve how our campus operates and thereby reducing our negative impacts on our natural, social and cultural environment,” Best said. “Students will also benefit from improved awareness of sustainability issues and will be able to share their knowledge with friends, family and colleagues. Involvement will also help students to connect with others on campus who share their interest.”

As far as branching out to affect those outside of the CSUN community, Best said it is still a work in progress.
“The institute, now in its second year of existence, has increased awareness of sustainability issues on campus including areas of concerns and initiatives that have been implemented,” Best said. “While individual affiliates of the institute have worked with the surrounding community, the institute is still investigating additional ways for us to partner with our community. Therefore the impact of the institute on our surrounding committee is only now beginning.”

Sarah Erickson, administrative analyst for the institute, finds there are also benefits from a faculty perspective of being associated with the institute.

“The most rewarding part of working with the institute is being surrounded by others who share my passion for sustainability,” Erickson said. “It is very motivating and refreshing to be a part (of) the sustainability movement at CSUN. To witness the campus becoming more sustainable in various ways is a reward in itself. My hope is that people begin to view sustainability not as a separate entity on campus or in our world but rather an aspect of every part of our lives.”

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