Sustainable Skidmore: Reworking the Curriculum to Incorporate Sustainability Credits

Posted by Rachel Dyckman

            Sustainability is a topic on everyone's mind these days. With the impending crisis of global climate change, many colleges and universities have decided to implement mandatory sustainability credits into their curriculums. Schools like Dickinson and Middlebury are developing sustainability requirements, and Skidmore seeks to follow suit.

Skidmore Sustainability Committee member, Rachel Dance '14 explains, "We are in the very beginning stages of putting this together and it's going to be a long process... we have been looking at schools that already have this requirement and are looking to simulate those curriculums to make it applicable to Skidmore's mission. The curriculum as a whole is being reevaluated and will take about three to five years to implement." If Skidmore implements sustainability into its curriculum, it can join the 280 higher education institutions (including Wesleyan, Vassar, Franklin and Marshall, and Tufts just to name a few) that are currently rated by STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. STARS is a "self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance" (stars.aashe.org). Skidmore currently offers (but does not mandate) hundreds of courses in various departments that would be able to fulfill sustainability credits. In order to integrate sustainability into Skidmore's curriculum, student support is critical. A petition process must occur, as well as involvement from SGA. Finally, a proposal will be given to the CEPP, the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning.

            A major push for adding sustainability requirements into the Skidmore curriculum stems from the notion that Environmental Studies majors should not be the only students aware of environmental issues occurring today; instead, all students should be encouraged to learn about sustainability and how their actions affect the environment. Several years ago, an intern for Skidmore's sustainability office started working on getting Skidmore ranked with STARS. However, after the student graduated, the process slowed down. Now a new group of dedicated Skidmore students and faculty members are on a mission to make certain that all Skidmore graduates will be knowledgeable about environmental issues and sustainability.

             "Peaking interest in students is really important right now because we want more people to get on board with this initiative," Dance stated. Thus, in order to move forward with formally incorporating sustainability into the Skidmore curriculum, student and faculty support is necessary.

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