In the spring of 2012, the Green Mountain College Board of Trustees, the Faculty Council, the Student Senate and the Staff Assembly approved the Sustainability 2020 eight-year strategic plan. In 2010–’11, a committee of trustees and staff developed a long-range vision for the College. The following year, a fifteen member strategic plan working group and six sub-committees transformed the vision into a detailed plan. A variety of participatory processes engaged stakeholders in discussing the College’s opportunities, challenges and refining drafts of the plan. An implementation timeline and an eight-year financial model established the feasibility of achieving a bold vision.
Our 2020 Vision
In pursuing our mission and the Sustainability 2020 objective, our vision is to thrive in an ever-changing world through the knowledge, creativity, resourcefulness and goodwill of our extended Green Mountain College community.
In this new future:
Our students are engaged in a new kind of education where the boundaries between classroom learning and their lifework have dissolved; our students are initiating and leading much of our best work in sustainability; those nearing graduation have exciting career opportunities opening up before them; they begin their new lives free of the burden of debt, eager and poised to lead the world forward;
Academically we are defining a new agenda for sustainability-focused research and education; we are taking the abstract notion of sustainability and making it real and accessible through our practices and measures; we are helping our students put their liberal arts education to good use; as a center of excellence for research and education we are discovering new ways that humans can thrive in a modern but finite world;
As a college community, we are collectively healthier, happier and more prosperous than ever; our faculty and staff are excited about their work and proud of their achievements; we develop and support our people, enabling them to reach their full potential; faculty, staff and students all find creative ways to enrich both the quality of education and the quality of life here;
We have a national and international reputation for being the most innovative college in sustainability; we are distinguished for walking our talk; we are leading the world toward sustainability through our example, demonstrating each day how it is possible to make our world better socially, ecologically and economically; we have extended our impact well beyond our campus by educating others how to follow in our footsteps; visitors from around the world come to Poultney, Vermont to learn about what is so different at Green Mountain College;
Prospective students and faculty from around the world actively seek to become part of our community; influential partners (government, business, non-profit) find ways to help us succeed with our goals; our long-term financial position is more secure than ever; by growing our enrollment, diversifying our student population and developing a variety of new revenue sources, we are now positioned to sustain our progress through continuing investments in our people, our facilities and our innovative programs and initiatives;
We have demonstrated that we can leave our planet better than we found it, and also be happy, healthy and prosperous; and thus we have a powerful story to tell about our journey, of our progress so far, of the challenges we have overcome and of those we still face; we are truthful to ourselves and this helps us learn from our experiences; our progress propels us to reach even higher; and across our community we share a vision for the future and a commitment to work even more closely together to achieve it. We hold ourselves accountable to our greatest ambitions.
How do we get there? We have to measure progress…
In September of 2012, Provost Bill Throop appointed a task force of faculty, staff, and a student to develop and implement metrics to track progress toward the goal of authentic sustainability.
Over the next eight months, the task force researched multiple ways of assessing a net positive impact in the three areas of natural capital, financial capital, and social/human capital. They consulted the academic literature and the community through public discussions.
The result was a 30-page paper outlining 27 metrics. Many of these indicators will require complex measurements into uncharted territory for higher education institutions. In the area of social capital, the College will measure the trust and associations between members of the community. In the area of natural capital, the College will measure the upstream environmental impacts of the products it purchases. To carry-out the measurements, faculty and staff will work closely with classes that will collect and analyze the data, in addition to making suggestions for strategies to move Green Mountain College closer to authentic sustainability.
Implementation of the metrics will continue to be an open and honest process in line with the guiding principles of authentic sustainability, including transparency, resiliency, and credibility, as well as incorporating social justice, engaging the community, and frequently reassessing and improving methods. For a technical explanation of the metrics, read this white paper written by the task force. For a brief introduction to the metrics, watch these short videos: