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Michael Hamburger
Department of Geological Sciences
hamburg@indiana.edu
812-855-2934

Paul Sullivan
Deputy Vice President for Administration
psulliva@indiana.edu
812-855-4155

Last modified: Monday, November 19, 2007

Task force report charts course for a sustainable campus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 19, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A Campus Sustainability Report for Indiana University Bloomington charts a course for IU Bloomington to become a leader in the study and practice of environmental sustainability. The draft report, produced under the direction of an IU task force on sustainability, has been posted on the campus sustainability Web site, http://www.indiana.edu/~sustain.

"We view this initiative as an opportunity for Indiana University to take a leadership role in incorporating concepts of sustainability into university practice in the operation of the university as well as the creation, dissemination and application of new areas of academic scholarship in this emerging field," the report says.

The draft report includes preliminary recommendations for action, including a central proposal for establishing an IU Bloomington Office of Sustainability to provide administrative support and coordination for campus-wide programs. It defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Paul Sullivan and Michael Hamburger

Task Force on Campus Sustainability co-chairs Paul Sullivan and Michael Hamburger.

Print-Quality Photo

IU Vice President for Administration J. Terry Clapacs appointed the 16-member Task Force on Campus Sustainability last March. Co-chairs are Michael Hamburger, associate dean of the faculties and professor of geological sciences, and Paul Sullivan, deputy vice president for administration. The task force includes faculty, staff and students, and has representatives from the academic and operations sides of the campus.

"I commend the Task Force for Campus Sustainability and the other faculty, staff and students who contributed to this thorough and thoughtful draft report," said Karen Hanson, the IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president. "Their hard work and their commitment to the project bode well for the long-term success of this important campus initiative. In the end, though, we all need to be involved."

The Campus Sustainability Report resulted from six months of work by more than 100 IU faculty, staff and students who examined sustainability issues in academic, administrative and operational programs. Twenty undergraduate and graduate student interns conducted research and collected information that contributed to the report.

The initiative includes seven working groups, assessing and making recommendations for sustainability in education, outreach and student engagement; resource use and recycling; energy; the built environment; environmental quality and land use; transportation; and food.

Hamburger said the effort resulted from a growing awareness that the planet faces serious environmental challenges -- the most obvious being global climate change -- and from a belief that universities are in a unique position to respond to the challenges through their core mission of research, teaching and service.

One theme of the report, he said, is that IU Bloomington has significant strengths that can be coordinated and built upon. For example, the working group on academic initiatives identified 29 undergraduate and 34 graduate programs, and more than 20 research centers or institutes that address some component of sustainability.

Another theme is that sustainability provides opportunities for cost savings on energy and transportation, increased collaboration with the Bloomington and Monroe County communities, and service learning by IU Bloomington students.

"This is something students are energized by," Hamburger said, noting that more than 200 students applied for sustainability internships within a week after the positions were advertised.

The report recommends that Indiana University as an institution make a "formal, public commitment" of support by signing one or more public statements on sustainability or climate change currently being endorsed by U.S. colleges and universities.

With the draft report made public, the task force will be seeking feedback from the IU administration, faculty, staff and students with the intention of producing a final report before the end of this year, Hamburger said. Comments on the draft may be sent by e-mail to sustain@indiana.edu.