Ashalul Aden is a senior this fall at Luther College. Asha is originally from Rochester, Minnesota. She is double majoring in Political Science and Religion. Asha chose to work for Iowa IPL this summer because she wants to do her part as a global citizen in the world to combat climate change. Asha believes in the power of individual and collective action. Climate change is a wicked problem that does not have a simple solution. Asha does not see climate change as just an environmental issue, she also sees it as a social justice issue. The most marginalized and poor people on Earth will face (and are already facing) the impact of climate change. Asha believes that a person cannot truly combat climate change unless they act like the change they want to see in the world. If we truly want to combat the wicked problem of climate change, we need to start off by taking a critical reflection of ourselves. She believes that once someone holds themselves accountable, they can work with others to create a sustainable future so every single human being can live on the Earth for generations…and generations.
See the original post from Iowa Interfaith Power & Light.
Muhlenberg College has been recognized as a top performer in the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, receiving a score of 100 percent for best practices in the area of water conservation. The College tied for the fourth spot among all higher education institutions nationally for water conservation and reuse, as well as effective rainwater management practices.
A publication from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Last winter Muhlenberg received a STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability Achievements, the highest level of recognition received by any Lehigh Valley higher education institution, for five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership.
In the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, the College was recognized for a 52 percent reduction in water usage over five years. Campus landscape initiatives included eliminating water hoses and favoring native plants and hearty grasses. The plant operations department also decentralized the boiler plant. The campus’s multiple new boilers use less water and are more efficient, leaky pipes are no longer in use, and an organic water softener additive enables water to be reused in the boiler system, mitigating issues with Allentown’s hard water.
Students have been part of Muhlenberg’s water conservation efforts. “Our students have been involved in water reductions through peer-to-peer advocacy,” says Kalyna Procyk, sustainability coordinator and an adjunct professor of sustainability studies. “They’ve led residence hall programs to encourage shorter showers, turning off the water when brushing teeth and reporting leaks.”
“We are happy to recognize Muhlenberg College for its leadership in advancing sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “I’m grateful for the work being done by this institution to help move society toward a more equitable and sustainable future.”
Read more from Muhlenberg College.
This past January, 22 Luther College students along with two professors traveled to Germany and the United Kingdom to learn about the energy transition in these countries from fossil fuels to renewable sources.
Led by professors Jim Martin-Schramm and Soren Steding, the class visited and toured many sites including a wind turbine test field in northern Germany, an energy from waste plant in Berlin, a biofuel and coal-fired power plant in the UK, and Hinkley Point B, a nuclear power plant in the UK. Germany and the UK were interesting case studies for the class as both countries are committed to transitioning to renewable and low-carbon energy. However, these countries are achieving this in different ways. Germany is completely ending the use of nuclear energy and not allowing hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, while the UK is investing in more nuclear power and has not counted out fracking to increase oil and gas production.
On the course blog, student Ben Davidson writes, “Throughout this whole trip, we have enjoyed learning about the green energy transition throughout Germany and the United Kingdom. We attended over 22 events between 10 cities throughout Germany and the UK. Through these different presentations and discussions, we not only discussed the energy transition from a scientific or political view, but we also analyzed these current issues with ethical reflection and through creative processes. We realize now more than ever that our world is in the midst of a green energy revolution and that there may be different ideas of how to move forward, but the important thing is that the world continues to make forward progress on carbon reduction goals and continues to advance through this energy revolution.”
Read more about the trip from the course blog.
After graduating from Grinnell College in Iowa and attending graduate school in Italy, Cain found herself in Decorah, Iowa working for various agricultural non-profits. Cain is now taking on a new adventure as Sustainability Coordinator in the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College. Expanding on her previous experience, Cain is excited to to continue working “at the intersection of agriculture and the environment.”
As the Sustainability Coordinator, Cain is responsible for helping Luther meet its various climate goals, including the goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. She says, “My goal is to help the Luther community and our larger community of Northeast Iowa develop the skills, knowledge, values, and habits of mind necessary to be responsible citizens of communities that are striving for a more equitable, prosperous, and environmentally responsible world.”
When asked about the purpose of a sustainability coordinator within an institution, Cain answered: “Institutions that employ a sustainability coordinator are setting an example for other schools, colleges, businesses, and governments. When a college has a sustainability coordinator, they are proclaiming that sustainability is a priority and it is something that is worth dedicated resources. The role of a sustainability coordinator will help students, faculty, and staff coalesce together and work collaboratively to solve some of the biggest problems facing our communities and all species on Earth.”
Learn more about Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities.
Christina L. Erickson, PhD, is Professor of Social Work and Environmental Studies at Augsburg University. Her work explores the intersections of social work as an applied profession and the experience of humans in their natural, social and economic environment. Dr. Erickson views social work knowledge, skills and values as essential to responding to and ameliorating environmental degradation.
Dr. Erickson published her new book, Environmental Justice as Social Work Practice, with Oxford University Press this past summer.
Environmental Justice as Social Work Practice places the natural environment as central to practice. Utilizing the Phases of Practice and micro to macro levels of practice, the book integrates neatly into a college semester course. Chapters cover important components of social work such as theory, ethics, conceptual foundations as well as distinct chapters on micro, mezzo, and macro practice. Each chapter expands the discipline’s commitment to and applied efforts in the environmental movement while recognizing the unique contributions social work has to offer to ameliorate environmental inequities. Chapters include real-world stories from environmental social work practitioners, case studies, and boxed sections highlighting organizations and people who bridge the human and natural justice divide. The textbook provides a framework for social work educators to bravely and competently teach environmental social work as a stand-alone college course or to incorporate into a traditional practice course.
View the book here, from Oxford University Press.
Gettysburg College has been pursuing sustainable decision making for over three decades. As the world’s environmental issues grow more and more severe, the college has increased its commitment to sustainability. In practice, this commitment entails working to enhance and protect the environment through teaching, research, service, operations, decision-making, and other aspects of life on campus. Gettysburg College, as a sustainable campus, is addressing all three pillars of sustainability. Environmentally, the College works to reduce and eliminate its ecological footprint; economically, it makes purchases and investments within budgetary constraints; and socially, the college is increasing awareness about educational, emotional, and physical needs. To learn more about Gettysburg’s sustainability program and efforts click here.