With Macmillan Books on the Reading Lists, Schools Earn STARS from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education – Part I

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recognizes U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities that implement sustainability programs and practices on campus. Their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) allows institutions to evaluate and report their sustainability performance with more than 100 criteria across four areas: Education & Research; Operations; Planning, Administration & Engagement; and Innovation.

A number schools have earned credits by incorporating Macmillan books into a themed semester or year focusing on sustainability or by including sustainability in new student orientation. Read about three of them now and stay tuned for more!

The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (Silver) has been recognized for their sustainability-related themed year: Sustainability and Community, and for assigning Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man as the summer reading book for incoming first-year students. The university also earned points from AASHE with the organic garden operated on campus by the Students for Environmental Awareness club; annual participation in Recyclemania, “a friendly competition among college and university recycling programs In North America and Canada”; hosting their third annual Bike Jam, which has grown into a month-long Bike Month Challenge; and more.

Ball State University (Silver) earned points for selecting Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe for the Freshman Connection common reading assignment in 2008. Elizabeth Kolbert visited campus to speak that year; in addition, authors Thomas L. Friedman and Ray C. Anderson, among many others, have given lectures on campus or keynotes at the university’s international interdisciplinary Greening of the Campus Conferences. Most recently, administrators and faculty from campuses all over the country attended Greening of the Campus IX: Building Pedagogy at BSU in March 2012.

Green Mountain College (Gold) racked up points toward their Gold rating with a themed semester that featured Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us. As incoming freshmen, all members of the class of 2013 received a copy of the book from the college. That fall, it was a central to their core writing course, Environmental Liberal Arts 1000: Images of Nature. Additionally, GMC seniors read Mr. Weisman’s Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World in their capstone seminar, and the author, the Fall 2009 Scholar in Residence for the master’s degree program in environmental studies, discussed both books with the undergrads at several events throughout the semester. Among the many other AASHE approved programs at GMC are: incentives for faculty who develop courses that address sustainability learning outcomes; and the REED Club, an academic program for students interested in pursuing Renewable Energy and EcoDesign (REED) certification in addition to their degree. In the fall of 2012, the curriculum will expand and GMC will offer a full 42-credit REED degree!

No Impact Man is Ohio State’s 2010 Buckeye Book

No Impact Man is the 2010 pick for the Buckeye Book Community at Ohio State University!  Every first-year student received a copy at summer orientation.  They read the book over the summer and returned to campus in the fall prepared to discuss it—and embark on their own No Impact experience.

For a decade, the Buckeye Book Community program selected a book about a relevant social issue and assigned the reading to the incoming first-year class.  The shared reading experience:

—Promotes reflection and dialogue among first-year students and faculty/staff around a common academic activity
—Introduces students to expectations of higher education
—Cultivates the life of the mind in and outside the classroom
—Helps foster community among first-year students
—Connects first-year students to faculty and staff through co-curricular programming
—Provides students with the opportunity to hear from the author, engage with the author through Q&A, and gain a greater understanding of the author’s motivation and writing process

Colin Beavan, author and the founder of No Impact Project, spent two days on campus this month.  In the evenings, he spoke to large audiences about why his family embarked on a year-long No Impact Experiment and how the experience changed his perception of human impact on the environment, strengthened his resolve to make longterm lifestyle changes on behalf of the planet, and shifted his personal values and goals.

Colin also joined students in smaller discussion groups to talk about writing and reading No Impact Man and share ideas about conservation and sustainability practices on campus.

Watch and Listen: “No Impact Week” at The Ohio State University

Those ideas were put into action during OSU’s No Impact Week, October 10-17.  To kick it off, Students for a Sustainable Campus sponsored the fourth annual Scarlett, Gray, and Green Fair, featuring more than forty booths (and free food, free t-shirts, and the chance to win a free bike!)  University administrative departments like the Office of Business and the Office of Energy Services, as well as environmental organizations and companies from across the state, showcased their environmentally friendly goals and achievements and encouraged students to get involved, as well.

Some students and faculty contributors to the Ohio State No Impact Blog shared their thoughts about No Impact Man and No Impact Week with the whole campus community:

“After reading No Impact Man, I realized more than ever that being environmentally friendly not only helps the environment (clearly), but could actually significantly improve my life.

For example, this book, along with my summer internship with Consider Biking, is the reason I have taken my bike on errands instead of my car. As a result, I am in better shape and have saved a lot of money on gas. Another change No Impact Man has led me to make is watching less TV. It is amazing how much more I get done now. And while I thought TV was helping me unwind, I am actually more relaxed if I read, play guitar, go running, etc.

Therefore, I am interested to see how participating in no Impact Week will further change my habits for the better. I realize that a lot of the changes are very easy and I should have already been doing them, but I think this is the push I need.”

Stacy Weisfeld, OSU Class of 2011, Vice President of Students for Recycling, Assistant to Director of Sustainability and Energy Management

Themed days throughout the week zeroed in on reducing impact in different areas.  For instance, Consumption and Trash Day included a tour of the local Rumpke Recycling facility, distribution of free recycling bins for dorm rooms, and installation of recycling stations in some common areas that were missing them.  On Food Issues Day, participants learned about sustainable food practices like eating locally and packing lunch in reusable bags.  Dining Services invited students behind the scenes to see how their food waste is handled.  For Transportation Day, OSU held an Alternate Transit Resources Fair representing greener ways to get around campus and the Columbus area and the Department of Recreational Sports hosted a Biking 101 course.

The Buckeye Book Program and OSU’s No Impact Week made local headlines: Book Inspires OSU Students To Limit Impact

Colin’s No Impact Project organization can customize a program for any campus.  Interested?  Learn more

In previous years, Ohio State has adopted Elie Wiesel’s Night and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for the Buckeye Book Community.

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages