Dyer G.,Greenland Enterprises |
Dyer M.,Greenland Enterprises
Journal of Cleaner Production | Year: 2015
Higher education has a strong influence in shaping the mental models of many of society's professionals and leaders and is a critical leverage point in creating a sustainable society. The American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) was launched in 2006 as a collective effort by higher education institutions to pursue climate neutrality in campus operations and integrate climate and sustainability into their education, research, and community engagement activities. While there had been significant growth in higher education sustainability initiatives over the preceding decade, the ACUPCC helped shift these from a collection of distinct programs to a strategic imperative for colleges and universities. The initiative promotes cross-disciplinary education, research, and practice needed for society to achieve sustainability. The ACUPCC network provides leadership-by-example for the rest of society to move towards sustainability. It aligns closely with the five-level Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD), in that (1) the system it aims to influence is global society over a long period of time; (2) success is defined by what is scientifically necessary in line with the sustainability principles of the FSSD; (3) a backcasting approach is employed as institutions set a compelling vision of success by establishing a target date for climate neutrality, and evaluate their current reality in relation to that vision by completing greenhouse gas inventories and assessing education, research, and community engagement activities; (4) institutions take action and publicly report on their progress; and (5) a variety of tools are employed to support those actions. The ACUPCC has had a significant impact to date in terms of greening campus operations, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding educational offerings on climate and sustainability. Despite its lack of specific goals and metrics in comprehensive curriculum reform, research, community engagement, endowment investing, and campus resilience, it provides a necessary foundation for new initiatives supporting continuous improvements in these areas. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.