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Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council reconstituted as task force wraps up work

August 30, 2011

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Following a year of deliberations by the Sustainability Task Force, the Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council (LCSC) is being reconstituted and re-launched. Its mandate includes a call to emphasize innovation and integration in sustainability and approaches to sustainability that relate to the College’s mission to develop “global thinkers and leaders.”

President Glassner has appointed Dan Rohlf, professor of law and co-founder of the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center at the Law School, to chair the reconstituted LCSC. The Council’s membership is to include broad representation from students, staff, and faculty from all three schools. People interested in serving should contact Rohlf at rohlf@lclark.edu.

“The Task Force had many productive discussions about integrating sustainability into our educational mission and enhancing the sustainability of Lewis & Clark’s operations,” Rohlf said. “I look forward to working with representatives of all three schools on the new council to put task force recommendations into action.”

Following an extensive discussion at its June 15 meeting, Executive Council accepted the work of the six subcommittees of the Sustainability Task Force, called an end to the task force process, and thanked the members for their contributions to the College’s sustainability future.

“To underscore the importance of your efforts, we believe distinction in sustainability is imperative if Lewis & Clark is to live up to our values, serve our students, and fulfill our aspirations for the future,” Executive Council members said in a joint statement to the task force. “We know that students at all three of our schools have an admirable passion for, and commitment to, sustainability. So do our prospective students. For us to attract, retain, and educate these students of the present and future, and to ensure that they remain engaged alumni, we need to provide an educational experience in sync with their desire to live sustainably and to learn how to be effective innovators and leaders in creating a more sustainable world…Thank you for your important work.”

Executive Council commended the task force for its finding that sustainability efforts at Lewis & Clark should be “grounded in our educational mission to cultivate global thinkers and leaders.” This was especially important, the Executive Council statement said, because of the “the fluid and fuzzy definitions of ‘sustainability’ and the limited ways in which most colleges and universities have focused their sustainability efforts.”

As it comes together in the new academic year, LCSC is charged with reviewing, prioritizing, and, as appropriate, acting on the recommendations of the six task force subcommittees. In addition, LCSC is expected to treat the subject areas covered by the subcommittees as on-going areas of inquiry and factors in decision-making.

In its charge to the reconstituted LCSC, Executive Council urged continued exploration of several key principles and questions identified, but not fully resolved, by the task force in its deliberations over the 2010-2011 academic year. These include:

  • Education: How shall the concept and practice of sustainability at Lewis & Clark be more fully “grounded in our educational mission to cultivate global thinkers and leaders”?
  • Integration: How shall sustainability further integrate the communities and concerns represented by members of the Sustainability Council, and serve to integrate “the best available scholarship and practice,” “ecology, economy, and equity,” and “scales stretching from our campus to the world”?
  • Innovation: How shall Lewis & Clark sustainability demonstrate “learning, innovation, and principled action,” and what are the most promising directions for innovation relative to other institutions of higher education?
  • Operations: How shall Lewis & Clark promote sustainability in its institutional practices and operations?

“By following this path,” the Executive Council statement said, “[LCSC] will demonstrate Lewis & Clark’s commitment to ongoing practical matters of sustainability, while continuing important conversations initiated by task force members with the goal of continuously improving our approach to the concept and practice of sustainability. We thus expect that immediate business related to sustainability will be conducted, at the same time that the campus community goes about clarifying the longer-term vision for educational integration and innovation in sustainability.

“Not only do innovation and integration resonate with the educational mission and values of Lewis & Clark,” the statement said, “but such approaches are most likely to make Lewis & Clark an even more widely recognized leader in sustainability in higher education.”