Highlights from NAU's Environmental Caucus in the Second Year
Since its formation in October 2008, The Environmental Caucus (EC) has gained a reputation as one of the most active and effective groups on campus. An informal and collaborative approach brings together faculty, students, staff and administrators to advance the university's institutional commitment to sustainability. This year, the EC held monthly meetings with 30-45 participants, coordinated six action teams, and managed a 425-member listserv.
Highlights of initiatives for Academic Year 2009-2010 include:
- Through Ponderosa action team discussions, catalyzed formation of seven Community-based Action Research Teams (ARTs) (September 2009). ARTs bring together First Year Seminar students, Master of Arts in Sustainable graduate students, Program in Community, Culture and Environment, faculty, and community partners to work collaboratively on sustainability and grassroots democracy projects.
- Publicly launched the Green NAU Website (October 2009). A central and active clearinghouse for NAU's environmental activities, Green NAU includes events, curriculum, campus initiatives, community engagement, and Student Connections (with Landsward Institute), a newsletter linking students to jobs, internships, organizations, and opportunities.
- Advanced the Global Learning Initiative (January 2010). With EC endorsement, the Faculty Senate adopted the Global Learning Initiative, establishing university-wide student learning outcomes in diversity education, environmental sustainability, and global engagement. EC faculty and appointed consultants are now actively engaged in the GLI implementation team.
- Supported Campus Climate Challenge in passing the Green Fund(March 2010). The EC is now working with students to successfully establish the Green Fund student committee and develop policies and procedures for a successful first year.
- Completed the Climate Action Plan (April 2010). Through EC coordination, advocacy, and involvement, the Climate Action Plan was completed and submitted to ACUP. The EC is now developing annual goals to implement the Plan.
- Developed the first annual Environmental Caucus Sustainability Leadership Awards, presented by President Haeger on Earth Day (April 2010). The 2010 award recipients were NAU Campus Dining and senior Jane Stewart, President of Campus Climate Challenge.
- Connected faculty, staff and students for dynamic cross-boundary, multi-disciplinary efforts to advance sustainability (ongoing). Examples of partnerships include organizing for a Sustainability Café, advancement of campus gardening initiatives, developing First Year Seminars, partnering to bring national-level speakers to campus (e.g. Van Jones, Billy Parish, David Orr, Tony Cortese).
- Sparked greater student action and involvement (ongoing). Through networking and involvement of the Caucus, campus student groups are more active than ever, and a highly successful and well-attended Earth Day proved to be a culminating event this year.
- Improved coordination/networking on sustainability efforts across campus (ongoing). Examples include a new Leave Green program that increased items donated to local nonprofits at the end of spring semester by 52% and decreased trash from 68 to 35 tons from the previous year, approval by Residence Life of an energy competition and study in residence halls, reduction by 15% of overall energy consumption/square foot, an improved approach to recycling education on campus, and strong coordination with Campus Dining on local and organic food sourcing, waste reduction, purchase of sustainable materials, and other sustainability measures.