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New Report Urges Colleges and Universities to Focus on Climate Change



By Chris Hassan
Posted November 09, 2011 04:51 PM

Report recommends schools focus on climate change.
Report recommends schools focus on climate change.
Many colleges and universities have taken steps to provide students with more environmentally friendly classrooms and have even started offering bachelor's and master's degree programs in topics like sustainability. However, based on a new report by the Higher Education Climate Adaptation Committee (HECAC), the country's higher education providers are not doing enough to prevent climate change.

The HECAC, which is comprised of experts and institutional leaders, came to the conclusion that the presidents and trustees of colleges and universities, as well as anyone who has fiduciary responsibility for these institutions, should be aware of the risks climate change pose to their schools. At the same time, these settings provide students an opportunity to acquire the skills they will need to solve real-world problems and maintain a sustainable society.

In the report, the HECAC urged higher education institutions to serve as role models through changes in their own operations. Several schools have already made green changes to their day-to-day operations and are even receiving recognition for it.

At the University of California (UC) Davis, Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, where the institution's Graduate School of Management is located, was recently awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, according to a press release. As a result, the graduate school is the first business school in the state to earn this designation.

"UC Davis is a pioneer in clean technology research and energy-efficiency solutions, and this is yet another example of how our campus both creates and adopts clean energy innovations," said Steven C. Currall, dean of the graduate school.

When students are learning in more sustainable settings, they also have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in green building through events like the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. According to the department's website, this program requires competing teams of college students to design, build and operate cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered homes.

The department's website states that the Solar Decathlon is designed to educate both student participants and the general public about the ways in which clean-energy products can save them money, while also preparing them to enter careers in the clean-energy sector.

Another way that students can prepare for jobs in fields related to sustainability is through the college programs that are available in related topics. Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability, while the Pennsylvania State University provides a Bachelor of Arts in Energy and Sustainability Policy. Still, other schools across the country offer similar options for students who want to study sustainability and green technology.

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