As environmentalism, sustainability, and the effects of climate change become increasingly relevant around the globe, public institutions have begun to take responsibility for their environmental footprints. Our own institution, the University of Texas at Austin, has begun developing a Sustainability Master Plan, which is a Phase II component of the Campus Master Plan. This is huge! Throughout the course of the 2015-2016 academic year, members of the Office of Sustainability, as well as various staff members, faculty, and students will contribute to the creation of a comprehensive set of guidelines to push UT Austin in a more sustainable direction. As UT increasingly relies on revenue from oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracking and boasts one of the nation’s largest endowments, the student body must voice its concern over the environmental implications of these investments and generally call into question the sustainability of the campus as a whole. We must critically examine the sustainability of our water and energy use, food production and consumption, transportation infrastructure, and many other aspects of campus.
More details about the plan are available here: Sustainability Master Plan
The Working Group for the Sustainability Master Plan has worked diligently to ensure that all stakeholders have a sufficient opportunity to give input, so they have hosted multiple input sessions to field student, staff, and faculty sentiments regarding sustainability on campus.
What does “sustainability” actually mean? How can we implement sustainability on campus? What are our priorities? Should we focus on divestment from fossil fuels or expanding food production on campus or something completely different? What values and ethics should guide this new master plan? There are a million questions that need to be answered, and YOU should weigh in and let us know how you feel! The final public input session on values, goals, and priorities is this week! Details below.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 — 12:30 – 1:30 PM in RLM 7.124 AND 5:00 – 6:00 PM in JES A207A
If you’re unable to attend this session but want to stay connected, please sign up for the mailing list to receive updates about any future public events: Email List Sign-Up
We cannot underestimate the importance of the development of a Sustainability Master Plan. “What starts here changes the world” – right? We should not compromise our values or present a mediocre, politically neutral plan of action. Universities should foster critical, revolutionary thought and challenge us to move beyond the status quo. This plan will shape the campus culture and environmental policies for years to come, so we must come together, voice our opinions, and show that we care about future generations. If a massive public entity such as the University of Texas can reflect upon its own environmental impact, maybe we can encourage other large institutions to take notice and follow suit. Indeed, while individual actions to promote sustainability matter tremendously, we need rapid, monumental change at the institutional and governmental level in order to combat the rapidly approaching effects of climate change and environmental destruction.
Please join us in fostering a campus transformation! Attend the input session this week, and bring as many friends as you can! Join the email list, and vocalize your grievances, thoughts, criticisms, opinions, and frustrations! Don’t hold back or stand by as an onlooker. Be apart of this wonderful movement toward significant, meaningful change!
- Stephanie Hamborsky, Co-Director, UT Microfarm