Sustainability and Oberlin's Mission

Providing leadership to the Oberlin community in implementing a comprehensive Environmental Policy in support of the college’s strategic goal of sustainability.

What does sustainability have to do with Oberlin’s mission? Quite simply, a lot. The core mission of Oberlin College is the education of its students. For the college to pursue its mission of education requires meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. That is to say, it requires sustainability in order to achieve its mission. Oberlin College also recognizes that climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and thus must take aggressive action towards sustainability to mitigate its effects.

Vision Statment

The Office of Environmental Sustainability’s vision is that sustainability in many ways represents the ultimate liberal art and as such is fundamentally important to a liberal arts college. A community that recognizes the interconnections between the environment, economics, equity and esthetics is one that understands the dynamic interactions of species and communities over time and during changing ecological conditions. A college that embraces sustainability commits itself to instilling a consciousness of these interrelationships and developing the skills necessary to create new possibilities and extend our ecological imaginations through any discipline, field, endeavor, or area of study.

The Office of Environmental Sustainability interacts with the administration, faculty, staff, and students to focus attention on ways to maximize the environmental performance of Oberlin College and develop the awareness and tools required to respond dynamically to issues affecting them. We also reach out to the wider community and provide a connection between Oberlin and regional and national activities. Through the development of increasingly strong collaborations, an interconnection of interests can be created. The sustainable college is one that recognizes interconnected mutual interests and creates productive affiliations between them rather than being preoccupied with trying to negotiate and balance perceived competing interests such as social justice, economic growth, and environmental protection.

What is Sustainability

Sustainability is commonly defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Beyond some sufficient level of continuous functioning, however, sustainability represents more than just the mere ability to survive and get by, but to thrive. A more inspiring concept of sustainability is that of an assemblage of mutual interests between social equity, viable economics, and a healthy environment. The sustainable college is one that recognizes these interconnected mutual interests and creates productive affiliations between them.

Sustainability Diagram