In November 2015, the General Faculty adopted the Oberlin College Environmental Policy Implementation Plan. Drafted over a three-year period by the Committee on Environmental Sustainability (CES), the plan reaffirms the guiding principles of the Oberlin College Environmental Policy approved by the Board of Trustees in March 2004. The plan also updates progress in various categories within the environmental policy and provides insights and aspirations to be used as a roadmap to making further advancements.
Professor of Psychology and CES Chair Cindy Frantz says the purpose of the plan is to share strategies for achieving goals articulated in the 2004 policy. “This is a living document that outlines concrete potential strategies that the college can pursue to achieve goals it has been committed to for a long time,” Frantz says. “There are no new commitments. It basically says, ‘We’ve been saying we’re going to do this. Now how are we actually going to do it?’”
According to Frantz, the college has already enacted a number of the strategies suggested in the plan—for example, incorporating education on environmental issues into the curriculum of the college and conservatory. But, she says, the plan is needed to outline additional strategies because much more needs to be done in order for the college to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.
Frantz says the CES will host conversations with the Oberlin community over the next few years in order to determine the best tactics for implementing the new strategies in the plan. In the meantime, the CES has identified several key priorities it can begin work on now. “One key priority is institutionalizing sustainability leadership at the board level. Another is to integrate sustainability more thoroughly throughout the curriculum,” she says.
Additionally, the CES will work to raise awareness of Oberlin’s commitment to carbon neutrality and of the 2004 environmental policy and the 2015 implementation plan. “We have this policy and now this plan, but most people have never read them; some people don’t know they exist. Some people don’t even realize Oberlin has a commitment to carbon neutrality,” she says. “So one priority is to get this information into every orientation for every new person who comes to campus: students, faculty, and staff.”
To raise awareness among students, faculty, and staff who are already part of the Oberlin community, the CES will create and distribute concise summaries that outline ways people in specific roles—students, administrative assistants, grounds workers, etc.—can adhere to the plan. Frantz says these summaries will help ensure people to actually know what they are supposed to do to help Oberlin reach its carbon neutrality goal.
“People really look to Oberlin as a leader in environmental sustainability,” Frantz says of the importance of making the plan known. “I think having this plan is important not only because it will serve as a guide for what we will do in the coming years but also because it will serve as a guide for other institutions.”
See this webpage for more information about the CES and to read the Oberlin College Environmental Policy Implementation Plan in full.
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