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What is Sustainable University?

The Sierra Club’s top 100 “Green University” this year was primarily based on energy use in colleges and universities in the United States. Even though the classification of American coolest universities and colleges was based on their efficient use of energy resources, the categorization and ranking also measured other sustainable practices of these institutions. The ranking included the following categories such as “efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, and a catchall section titled other initiatives" ( Through these rankings and the institutions’ energy supply, the ranking accessed the school's commitment and promotion to sustainability. I was surprise from the list of the rankings that Clark University was not even indicated amongst the 162 universities and colleges that answered the survey. It is important to participate in such a nationwide survey because it creates an opportunity for us to test our current energy use in the various categories and see how we could improve our current system to make it more energy efficient and less environmentally degradable. It is disheartening that Clark didn’t participate in the survey this year.

The questions that Selingo raised whether or not high education as we know it today, is gradually at a transitional phase in the midst of new innovations, technological advancements and development or if the current educational process would continue to be the hegemony. Over the past few decades, significant changes have taken place throughout the world among various universities and colleges. These changes in the broader sense are meant to facilitate the process of providing quality education, experiential learning experience as well as innovative skills. Nevertheless, the conventional notion of a professor-led instructional process still remains a dominant paradigm and would continue to the next 50 years without significant alteration of the entail region or country. 

Clugston and Calder (1999) on the other hand looked are the evolution and development of sustainability within the system of higher education as well as the eco-justice movement that is closely associated with it. They argued that the definition of sustainability could be contextualized to each colleges and universities in regards to the kind of projects or activities they considered to be sustainable. They also asserted that there are close links between the economy of a particular country and region and the issue of sustainability. That is, sustainability is an aspect of economic development planning and assessment.

Work cited

Clugston, R. M. and Calder, W. (1999). "Critical Dimensions of Sustainability in Higher Education." Sustainability and University, Walter leal Filho ed., published by Peter Lang.

Selingo, Jeff (2012). "A Disrupted Higher-Ed System." The Chronicle of Higher Education, URL: Accessed:09/10/2012.

Sierra Club Green University Ranking (2012). Website: Accessed: 09/10/2012.


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