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Sustainability in the College of the Liberal Arts

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Sustainability in the College of the Liberal Arts

To our Liberal Arts Community,

Most people desire to live in a sustainable environment so it is not surprising that "green" initiatives have sprung up in communities throughout the world. Here at Penn State, we also desire to be green (as well as blue and white). To this end, the University has organized a sustainability initiative and set a goal to be a global leader in this area.

I know many people want to act in a more environmentally sustainable way but don't know how to do it, or find that the perceived inconvenience of doing so outweighs the perceived  benefits. So last year I appointed a committee, chaired by Janet Swim, of faculty, staff, and students from throughout the College to develop a plan for the College and our units to act in more environmentally friendly, sustainable ways. How can we encourage our faculty, staff, and students to act thoughtfully without significant disruption or inefficiencies? I view this not as an ideological imperative, but a practical one that will take the efforts of all of our community to be successful.  All of us can walk through the hallways of our buildings and spot activities and practices that waste energy on small and large scales. It's costly to our departments, to the University, and to the larger community. But so what? What should we do?

Green Leaves on a branch

Recently, the committee reported back to me recommending, among other things, that each building in the College of Liberal Arts form a green team.  There are already many successful green teams in other parts of the university. These green teams encourage and provide guidance toward behavior changes and practices that can help us become a more environmentally sustainable institution.

So our college will now officially be part of the Green Team program.  I have asked the department heads to appoint local committees, at either the building or department level, to participate in this initiative. We will be announcing the composition of the committees soon and hopefully we can add some competitions and fun to the endeavor.

I look forward to widespread participation in this program.

Thank you.

Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts

About Us

Our Vision

The College of the Liberal Arts will be a leader in promoting sustainability, defined by the university as, “The simultaneous pursuit of human health and prosperity, environmental quality and economic well-being, in a manner that balances the needs of present and future generations."

Our Mission

The College of the Liberal Arts (CLA) will implement sustainable practices that will result in increased awareness, knowledge, and well-being among our College community, increased motivation to engage in pro-sustainable behaviors, decreased emissions and waste, and increased influence beyond the College to our community and business and academic associates.

Green Program Values

  1. Fulfill our moral responsibility
    Be sensitive to of the needs of future generations who are dependent upon the consequences of our actions in using resources and preserving the biosphere
  2. Enact meaningful change
    Increase energy savings and decrease waste and emissions by increasing the number of impactful pro-environmental behaviors individual do and the number of individuals doing these behaviors.
  3. Empower individual action
    Encourage individual and group action driven by intrinsic motivation, goal setting, realistic planning, personal responsibility, and group identity.
  4. Be a leader in sustainability
    Engage in sustainable practices that educate and inspire others.

Get Involved

Green Paws Program

The Penn State Sustainability Institute Green Paws Program is a simple, yet effective way for faculty and staff to "green" their workspace and earn a Green Paws Office Certification for their efforts. Learn more!

Start or Join a Green Team

Green Teams are groups of faculty, staff, and students volunteering to take specific actions to help their organization (college, department, building, etc.) operate in a more efficient, innovative, and healthy way. Learn more!

Penn State Sustainability Institute

Penn State's vision is a comprehensive integration of sustainability into the University's research, teaching, and service that will prepare students, faculty, and staff to be tomorrow's sustainability leaders. Learn more!

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