The Office of Sustainability at the University of Vermont
Our office of two full-time staff, four graduate Fellows, and several undergraduate interns supports grassroots efforts across campus and helps define and implement university-wide strategies for integrating sustainability on campus through programs, projects, and initiatives in four general areas:
- Academics: Integrating sustainability into the curriculum--for example, our Sustainability Faculty Fellows program
- Culture: Nurturing awareness and action in the ever-changing student population: see the Eco-Reps program
- Campus Operations: Evolving best practices in campus operations--students work with staff and administrators through the Campus Sustainability Course
- Accountability: Establishing goals, processes, and information systems to ensure progress over time-- we have committed to climate neutrality and are informally using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) to organize our work.
Explore the left menu or use the search engine to learn more about our programs and emerging projects and initiatives. To see what is happening across campus, check out our STARS pages.
But What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is a big idea, like Love, or Justice, that looks different to different people and from different vantage points. It can be described in a wealth of ways, but internationally the idea is most commonly referring to "sustainable development" as defined by the U.N. Brundtland Commission in 1987:
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
It contains within it two key concepts:
- the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
- the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.
Sustainability in the UVM Curriculum
As of fall 2015, all new University of Vermont undergraduates will be required to complete a Sustainability Requirement as part of the general education requirements of the University. Sustainability Learning Outcomes approved by the Faculty Senate in 2014 describe students acquiring knowledge of social, ecological, and economic dimensions of complex problems; developing skills in rigorous and complex discussions about solutions; negotiating multiple values; and analyzing their own experiences and actions. Students may choose from a variety of courses and, in future, experiences. The current list of approved courses can be found here.