URI Strategic Plan for Campus Sustainability Community Culture and Outreach
Sustainability is a philosophy and mode of thought that transcends the environmental movement and touches every part of society. Sustainability includes natural resources conservation and energy efficiency, but goes beyond traditional measures. The shift
toward sustainability at URI encompasses the convergence of the “Three E’s” of a stable environment and economy, and social equity, and our quality of life hangs in the balance of these three main tenets. Our goal at URI is to ensure that everyone on campus develops, as a community, knowledge and values within a culture of appreciation for this delicate balance, and is poised to adopt changes that will reduce our impact on the environment. For example, one way to develop this kind of culture on campus is to inform newly-hired staff and faculty, via the orientation sessions, of the sustainabiltiy values we hold and provide them with tools for carrying out their commitment to "go green" in their offices.
The University of Rhode Island can contribute to the community culture of sustainability by harnessing its financial and academic resources to address community needs. As a Land and Sea Grant university, URI has long-established programs available to RI community leaders, businesses and the general public that offer the knowledge and tools to create and then implement sustainability programs that best serve their community. This type of prominence enables URI to advocate for sustainability outside the campus boundary, and increase its reputation as an institutional resource for sustainability practices and principles.
Universities serve an important role in society as sources of innovation and drivers of economic development. Community service – serving as a mentor to disadvantaged youth, conducting community clean-ups, or volunteering at a food bank – is one way students, alumni, faculty, and staff can make tangible contributions. Volunteer opportunities for all campus members, and the sense of compassion that community service helps develop, are fundamental to achieving sustainability. A class of landscape architecture design students may develop a vision for sustainable development in an institution or municipality; a business class may write a sustainability plan for a local company; or a team of Energy Fellows may design a net zero building for a school system. For students, such in-depth community engagement can enhance the development of leadership and professional skills while deepening their understandings of practical, real-world problems. As students work with communities, they learn of the interconnectedness between the classroom, the environment and its systems and the economic needs that must be a part of the solution. Through education and real world experience, graduating students will provide a skilled workforce with the values, knowledge, and drive necessary for building a sustainable future. Student Involvement in projects such as these can be transformational, often leading to a deep commitment to the community and producing the type of well-trained and motivated work force we will need to build the RI Knowledge Economy.
The goals of the Community Culture and Outreach group focus on reaching beyond the walls of academics and research by developing a culture of sustainability that engages each and every member of the campus community, and inspires them to connect and form meaningful relationships with the local community.
Community Culture and Outreach Goals:
1. Engage and support the campus as a living laboratory for sustainability that demonstrates best practices and principles to the surrounding community
2. Raise awareness and provide ongoing support for the university community’s current programs to work collaboratively off-campus with local municipalities, private entities and citizen groups outside of campus
The URI Sustainability Outreach and Community Culture Working Group is developing strategies and action items to help meet each of these goals. If you have any questions about our efforts please contact the Sustainability Office via emailor any one of the members listed below. Or, better yet, join us in our work. Students, staff, faculty and members of the community are welcome to work with us on campus.
Dr. Marion Gold, Director, CELS Outreach Center; Co-Director, URI Energy Center
Will Green, Chair and Professor, Landscape Architecture Department
Dr. Brian Maynard, Professor, Plant Sciences
Liliana Costa, Assistant To Vice President for Administration and Finance
Jeffery Plouffe, Assistant Director, Housing and Res. Life
A center at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) that helps coastal communities, both locally and worldwide, plan for the wise use of sea-based resources, such as fish stocks and offshore wind power, has secured $659,238 in grant funds for its programs.