The environmental college President whose vision helped ignite a growing national divestment movement sees education reform coupled with sustainability science as central to salvaging a livable planet.

In a Yale Environment 360 interview, Unity College President Stephen Mulkey, the climate scientist whose vision helped ignite the divestment movement for fossil fuels investments by higher education endowments, shares his vision for a livable future. Without widespread education reform that educates college students to meet the 21st century challenges of a world beset by climate change, the struggle will be to merely postpone the extinction of mankind.

At the American Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2013 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Mulkey shared a startling vision for reframing higher education that drew broad praise.  His vision features sustainability science – the leading-edge of 21st century transdiciplinary (collaborative) environmental problem solving — as a foundation to ensure that college students develop the modern, comprehensive skills to not only to land their first job, but also to consistently adapt as they rise to positions of authority during their world-changing careers.

Along with founder Bill McKibben, Mulkey has become something of a prophet at the dawn of a new movement.  It is a movement that aims to reframe higher education by focusing on building comprehensive skills including business and communications, breaking down silos between the disciplines, and educating students for real world relevance.  Unity College is the first college to adopt sustainability science as its focus for teaching and learning to ensure that students are trained as visionary leaders and stewards of the Earth.

This summer Mulkey will release a video that outlines his vision for sustainability science and his cross disciplinary educational reform as a logical next step in the divestment movement.

While doing research in South America over a decade ago Mulkey came to an epiphany.  Higher education needed to change in service to saving the planet.

His uplifting call to change is not only the remedy for an antiquated higher education system in need of a post-industrial retrofit, but serves as a vision for new prosperity and economic innovation through the expansion of the “green” economy.

Unity College, which is located in the middle of Maine’s diverse eco-systems, has become a national center for sustainability science research and learning.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014