How do we Sustain and Grow our Sustainability Efforts?

Sustainability has been part of PSU’s vision and strategic emphasis area since the 2005 adoption of the Declaration of Support for Sustainability. There are many of us, me included, who were not at Portland State when this declaration was made.  I suggest it is time for everyone to re-read (or read) the declaration.  It articulates a commitment that can only be realized if we work together.

A lot has taken place on sustainability at PSU that we can all be proud of.  Under Professor Jennifer Allen’s leadership, our Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) has served as a hub for sustainability activities and actions.  ISS has a team of dedicated faculty, staff and students, but they cannot do this work alone.

Made possible by ISS support
ISS has been instrumental in the development of our Graduate Certificate in Sustainability, the Research to Action symposia, the Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions Graduate Research Traineeship (IGERT). The ISS administers the 10-year, $25 million challenge grant made to the University by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation in September 2008.  The 2013-14 Annual Report for Sustainability provides much more detail on the sustainability accomplishments of PSU.
The work ahead
PSU is seven years into a 10-year, $25 million challenge grant from the Miller Foundation.  We have developed a set of goals and initiatives that has become known as the Sustainability Playbook. The playbook is divided into six sections: Education and Curriculum, Student Experience and Engagement, Research, Community Engagement, Campus Operations, and Institutional Policies and Administration.
I think of the playbook as both a blueprint and a challenge.  A blueprint in that it outlines the strategic initiatives needed to follow through on PSU’s commitments on what it means to be an institution dedicated to sustainability.  A challenge in that it is a call to all of us to help move this work forward.  Although individual and groups of faculty, staff and students can make things happen, it will require all of us to make PSU an institution known for sustainability.
Portland has a national and international reputation as a sustainable city.  It goes to follow that we would be its university known for sustainability.  I would like to challenge everyone on campus to take just one page out of the playbook and think about what you can do to advance PSU’s efforts in sustainability.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the playbook below.

One thought on “How do we Sustain and Grow our Sustainability Efforts?

  1. The Declaration of Support for Sustainability at PSU was written by a small group of students and staffers who spent some rainy days in the Park Blocks collecting signatures before Professor Dave Ervin presented it to then President Bernstine and the Faculty Senate for adoption.

    If you would like to see a pre-Miller Grant effort to publicize PSU's nascent sustainability work, take a look at this 2 minute video:


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