Unity College earns national honor for sustainability in its curriculum
Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education recognizes America’s Environmental College in its Sustainable Campus Index
As America’s Environmental College, it’s important for Unity College to establish itself as a leader in sustainability — to not only talk the talk, but to also walk the walk, doubling down on its mission. As Unity College leans into curricular excellence in sustainability — a key contributor to the College reaching record enrollment, which has more than doubled over the past five years — the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has recognized the College for its contributions to sustainability in its undergraduate and graduate curriculum.
Designations such as these have garnered attention from students nationally, contributing to the unprecedented growth the College has seen in recent years. Many adult, place-bound learners are seeking a degree rooted in sustainability, and receiving this honor reaffirms for them that Unity College is on the right track with its Path Forward.
The AASHE 2020 Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities from across the country overall and in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability, measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Criteria include sustainable learning outcomes, immersive experiences, internships in sustainability fields, and sustainability courses and topics within courses.
“We here at Unity College take pride in developing the next generation of environmental leaders, and being recognized by AASHE reassures us that not only is our mission more relevant than ever, but that our curriculum and our students are thriving,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “Through Hybrid Learning and Distance Education, we’ve taken strides to reach more students where they are, so now they can put our sustainability-minded education right to use in their own hometown. So it’s not only a win for our students, but for their communities as well. And a win for the environment, as it reduces the carbon emissions that students generate to receive a Unity College education!”
Unity College incorporates sustainability into every aspect of its functions, from academics to operations and planning. In fact, every single graduate program has at least one sustainability learning outcome, and all research-producing units are engaged in sustainability research. The College has also realized a reduction in building energy of more than 25 percent through efficient construction and retrofits. Meanwhile, 15 percent of electronic purchases, 80 percent of janitorial products, and 100 percent of copy paper meet recognized sustainability standards
“Sustainability is ingrained in our culture,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer deHart. “From orientation on, all of our students and staff understand the role that we all play in protecting our environment, and are aware of just how important it is to make the right decisions to limit our carbon footprint. And, sometimes changing the smallest habit can make a significant difference, like diverting 45 percent of our waste from landfills, including our food waste that is recycled into energy. If you do the math over years, it’s quite an accomplishment.”
The College’s sustainability curriculum is clearly both timely and desirable. Congratulations to all the Unity College students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have helped in leading the College’s sustainability efforts.