Avila University Hosts Peace Activist Reverend John Dear

Since the implementation of the sustainability committee at Avila University, significant strides have been made to educate the student body on the current state of the environment. The Buchanan Initiative for Peace and Nonviolence recently hosted Revered John Dear, a Catholic priests and multi-Nobel prize nominee. The lecture given by Reverend Dear is titled, “They Will Inherit the Earth,” which is based off his book They Will Inherit the Earth: Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of Climate Change.

Arica Maurer, coordinator for the Buchanon Initiative for Peace and Nonviolence, explained how “peacebuilding is not only about relationships between people but about humankind’s relationship with the earth. We have invited Reverend Dear to speak because we believe it is important for the Avila community to hear his message about the environmental aspect of peacebuilding as well as to learn from his example of nonviolent, civil disobedience in pursuit of justice and peace.”

For more details on this lecture, visit Avila news.

Loyola University New Orleans Receives Recycling Grant!

Congratulations to Loyola University New Orleans! They were one of only fifty institutions nationwide to win the 2017 Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Grant. The funds from this grant will be “used to purchase 30 new recycling bins to be placed in all five residence halls.” This initiative is expected to recycle an additional 45,000 gallons of waste per year.

The grant is thanks in part to the Student Government Association who wrote and won the grant as part of its sustainability initiative titled “Maroon, Gold, and Green.”  Loyola’s SGA is now planning an event on campus “to promote recycling and create awareness of the grant and new bins, which will collect paper, plastic, and aluminum.” The sustainability efforts taken by Loyola have only increased over the years. In addition to the recycling bins, Loyola has implemented solar paneled outdoor charging tables earned them the title of being one of the 2017 “Green Colleges” by Princeton Review.

To read more about Loyola University New Orleans’ initiatives, visit Loyola news.

 Catholic Colleges Heed Pope’s Call to Protect the Earth

On Sunday, we celebrate the 48th anniversary of Earth Day! Since the release of Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato Si, Catholics have been called in a unique way to respond to the “the throwaway culture” and “care for our common home.” Earth Day offers Catholics a time to reflect on the beauty of creation and our role as stewards of creation. The Holy Father urgently appeals to “every living person” to protect one another and the planet. To heed the call, Catholic colleges and universities have been integrating sustainable practices on campuses in small and large ways that both honor the earth and affirm the values of their institutions.

St. Mary's

Many universities have incorporated humanity’s call to protect the environment into their mission statements to facilitate the work throughout their campuses. One example can be found at Saint Mary’s College of California. Its mission statement reads, “In fidelity to our educational missions and Catholic principles, Saint Mary’s College is committed to leadership in fostering environmental literacy, modeling a culture of sustainability, and creating an equitable future for all of humankind in harmony with nature.” Having a clear, yet comprehensive mission statement has allowed the campus to make large strides in a short amount of time. In a 2017 Sustainability Report, St. Mary’s stipulated that in order to achieve its objectives, the campus community must be engaged at all levels, take advantage of intellectual resources, have transparent evaluation and planning processes, and ensure that each measure taken is related to its stated goals. Last year, the college was able to do just that. Developments include the addition of mobile solar generators, updated lighting and natural gas systems, and installation of compost bins across campus.

By far, the largest impact came from the compost bins. According to the report, “Landfill [waste] decreased from 655 to 439 tons in the past two years.” St. Mary’s said it was able to make the drastic change through concerted efforts to educate the community on what goes into each recycle bin and provide the right infrastructure and signage within campus grounds. “With those in place, a culture can build.”

Since the inception of its sustainability committee in 2010, John Carroll University has implemented a number of initiatives throughout campus as outlined in its report last year. One of the ways was by integrating “green” measures in campus cafeterias. Changes in its food service facilities began in 2008, with the decision to go tray-less in the Schott Dining Hall. This has reduced food waste and minimized the water and energy that would have been used for tray cleaning. Also, when students want to take food out from the cafeterias, they are given reusable, biodegradable containers rather than foam ones that would eventually occupy a landfill.

Much of John Carroll’s success can be attributed to ongoing collaboration with the Office of Residence Life. The student housing department recently added new wireless thermostats and laundry machines to its residential buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce water use. In addition, Residence Life regularly hosts informational events to better educate students on sustainability practices.

Xavier

Xavier University is incorporating academics as part of its sustainability initiatives. The university is offering undergraduate degree programs in sustainability, including economics and management; economics, sustainability, and society; and land, farming, and community. Xavier notes that “each of these three academic majors provide experiential learning opportunities combined with a year-long capstone project, encompassing everything students have learned over the past four years.” The programs present additional opportunities for students “to care for our common home.”

Currently, senior Economics, Sustainability, and Society (ECOS) majors are preparing for their capstone projects, which they will present at the end of April. Throughout their four years at Xavier, the students have “acquired a comprehensive understanding of sustainable economies, including the study of natural resources, plus ecological and environmental problems. Students also gain an understanding of social justice questions related to the distribution of economic products and resources,” according to the university website. The program allows them to carry their studies beyond the classroom. For example, one senior ECOS capstone project focuses on improving the environmental profile of Xavier University by changing campus behaviors and attitudes. As a Jesuit institution, Xavier is committed to fostering students that are stewards of a healthier earth.

Catholic colleges and universities continue to respond to the call of Pope Francis in Laudato Si by implementing sound sustainability practices. These colleges and universities recognize the importance of seeking full campus participation to be most effective in their missions. And, as we mark Earth Day, let’s take time to reflect on the lifestyle changes we can make for a more just and sustainable world.

Loras College Hosts Panel aimed at Reducing Waste

Loras College recently hosted a panel discussion on reducing food waste in an effort to become a more sustainable campus. The event was sponsored by the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency (DMASWA) and Green Iowa AmeriCorps and is open to the public. The panel was prompted by the statistic reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that approximately “one third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is lost or wasted.”

The panel conversation focused on ways to “limit the amount of food put in landfills by reducing waste, feeding people in need, providing food for livestock, and compost and renewable energy.”

To read more about this panel hosted by Loras College, visit Loras news.

Saint Joseph’s College Receives $4 Million in Funding to Launch Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation

Congratulations to Saint Joseph’s College for announcing the launch of their Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation! The announcement comes as the institute recently received $4 million in funding from a Public Works Construction Project award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, and donations from the Hannaford Charitable Foundation, Organic Nutrition, Inc., and several private foundations and individuals.

This project “pursues the College’s long-standing initiatives in sustainability and community engagement, while contributing solutions to Maine’s need to recover manufacturing jobs, develop the state’s food and beverage industry, and meet regional food security goals.” These funds will allow the College to begin the initial phases of development for the institute. The institute will include “a food manufacturing incubator, a hydroponic farm, a traditional crop and livestock farm, an agritourism event center, and an entrepreneurship development and education program offering certificates in areas such as hydroponic farming, food processing, and good merchandising.” The college’s strategic plan seeks to positively affect those in need in the community, those learning from the institute, and the local environment.

To read the full article, click here.