From October 24-27, five members of Green Mountain College community attended the annual Conference of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in Minneapolis. This is the largest annual gathering of higher education sustainability professionals, with over 2,300 faculty, staff, students and administrators attending.
To a standing-room-only audience, GMC senior Rob Dunn ’16 shared his tiny house building experience and provided a detailed analyses of his carbon footprint in the presentation Tiny House College Life: No Dorm, No Debt, No Environmental Degradation. Prof. Bill Throop (philosophy and environmental studies) presented A Delicate Balance: Requiring Capstone Sustainability Projects of all Students and contributed to the plenary: Are we succeeding? Three Approaches to Assessing Sustainability Education. His presentations highlighted the transformation of GMC’s delicate balance projects and the practice of sustainability assessment compared to differently sized schools and international benchmarking. Ryan Ihrke (director of sustainability) teamed up with GMC’s former sustainability director Aaron Witham to conduct video interviews of sustainability officers about how they entered their careers, rewards of their positions, and on-the-job experiences unique to their roles. Provost Tom Mauhs-Pugh and chair of the GMC board of trustees Tony Cortese also participated in the conference.
Green Mountain received top billing in AASHE’s 2015 Sustainable Campus Index. The index uses the data submitted through AASHE’s Sustainability tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to rank schools on 17 different areas of higher education sustainability. 359 institutions in nine countries have submitted STARS reports. GMC was ranked first in the curriculum category, and tied for first in two other categories: Air and Climate, and Coordination and Planning; as well as being rated second in investment. The full set of ratings are available at https://stars.aashe.org/pages/about/2015-campus-sustainability-report.html. Only one other school, Colorado State University, received more first place rankings.