This is a guest post by freelance environmental writer Tom Schueneman, publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com
Sierra Magazine has recently announced its list of the ten “coolest schools in America” for 2008.
For our purposes here “cool” doesn’t refer to the level of party, but to the school’s efforts to address climate change and sustainability.
Until recently, that sort of cool remained largely the domain of small, private colleges, but no more. The colleges ranking in this year’s list represent a diverse range of institutions, from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina with 850 students, to Arizona State, the country’s second largest, with 51,500 students. Being cool is in.
The criteria for ranking was based on ten categories established by the editors of Sierra:
“…policies for building, energy, food, investment, procurement, and transportation; curriculum; environmental activism; waste management; and overall commitment to sustainability.”
And the winners are:
- Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont
- University of Colorado at Boulder
- University of Vermont at Burlington, Vermont
- Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina
- Evergreen State College, Olympia Washington
- Arizona State University at Tempe, Arizona
- University of Florida at Gainesville, Florida
- Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
- University of Washington at Seattle
- Tufts University, Medford Massachusetts
Shining Stars – In a League all Their Own
Why not include the EcoLeague in the cool list? An association of five small liberal arts colleges, the Eco League’s primary focus is “environmental learning and the active pursuit of environmental studies”. To compare such tightly focused curriculum with schools offering a multitude of degree programs didn’t make for a level playing field, so Sierra editors made the Eco League one of two “Shining Stars“.
The five Eco League schools are:
- Alaska Pacific University
- Prescott College
- Northland College
- College of the Atlantic
- Green Mountain College
University of California
The ten campuses that comprise the University of California system are in a league all their own and the second Shining Star.
With a population of students and faculty of approximately 390,000 UC has the ecological footprint of a mid-sized city. But, unlike many cities, UC is addressing that ecological footprint aggressively, one campus at a time.
As the editors in Sierra magazine point out, this is hardly an exhaustive list of all the schools making efforts to demonstrate and teach sustainability – coolness. But these ten schools, along with the “Shining Stars” of Eco League and University of California, represent the nation’s “environmental leaders”.
And we can always use more environmental leaders.
Photo Credit: Sierra Magazine