Campus / News / May 28, 2008

President to sign environmental declaration

President Roger Taylor has promised to sign a Knox-specific version of the Talloires Declaration by the end of the year.

The Talloires Declaration was drafted in 1990 by college and university presidents, promising to show leadership in and dedication to sustainability. According to University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, the “Secretariat for signatories of the Talloires Declaration,” the document has been signed in more than 40 countries by more than 350 university presidents.

“The bulleted stuff is how we made this Knox,” said new Sustainability Committee chair sophomore Abby Pardick.

Pardick said the committee and the president went back and forth between signing the Talloires Declaration and the Presidential Climate Commitment. They chose the Talloires because it is more “social” than the carbon neutrality-centered Presidential Climate Committee, and because the PCC would have been more expensive to enact.

The following is the Knox version of the Talloires Declaration that Taylor promised to sign.

Talloires Declaration

We, the presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities from all regions of the world are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources.

Local, regional and global air and water pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of “green house” gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations. These environmental changes are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns that aggravate poverty in many regions of the world.

We believe that urgent actions are needed to address these fundamental problems and reverse the trends. Stabilization of human population, adoption of environmentally sound industrial and agricultural technologies, reforestation, and ecological restoration are crucial elements in creating an equitable and unsustainable future for all humankind in harmony with nature.

Colleges and Universities have a major role in the education, research, policy formation, and information exchange necessary to make these goals possible. Thus, college and university leaders must initiate and support mobilization of internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge.

Knox College, therefore, agrees to take the following actions:

1. Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development

Use every opportunity to raise public, government, industry, foundation, and college awareness by openly addressing the urgent need to move toward an environmentally sustainable future. For example:

• Host speakers who share knowledge concerning the environment.

• Host an annual environmental conference such as Bioneers.

• Publicize any campus events and progress towards sustainability.

2. Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability

Encourage all colleges and universities to engage in education, research, policy formation, and information exchange on population, environment, and development to move toward global sustainability. For example:

• Contact other colleges to learn from their current sustainability practices.

• Encourage other colleges and universities to learn from Knox’s initiatives by sending members of the Knox community to sustainability conferences.

• Create an institutional culture of sustainability among Knox students, faculty, staff and alumnae/i.

3. Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship

Establish programs to produce expertise in environmental management, sustainable economic development, population, and related fields to ensure that all Knox graduates are environmentally literate and have the awareness and understanding to be ecologically responsible citizens. For example:

• Facilitate a discussion among faculty as to encourage consideration of sustainability across the curriculum.

4. Foster Environmental Literacy For All

Create programs to develop the capability of Knox faculty to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

5. Practice Institutional Ecology

Set an example of environmental responsibility by establishing institutional ecology policies and practices of resource conservations, recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally sound operations. For example:

• Focus on these four institutional areas that need improvement:

I. Minimizing waste through expanding the recycling program as well as educating in reusing, composting, and biodegradable materials.

II. Encouraging local and more ecologically-sound investments within campus food services and other campus departments.

III. Implementing LEED certification guidelines to the maximum extent practicable for all future campus building and remodeling.

IV. Investing in alternative energy sources to the maximum extent practicable and lessening carbon emissions with the intent of eventually becoming carbon neutral.

6. Involve All Stakeholders

Encourage involvement of government, foundations, and industry in supporting interdisciplinary research, education, policy formation, and information exchange in environmentally sustainable development. Expand work with community and nongovernmental organizations to assist in finding solutions to environmental problems. For example:

• Work with the city of Galesburg to promote sustainability practices throughout the community.

7. Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches

Convene college faculty and administrators with environmental practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to curricula, research initiatives, operations, and outreach activities that support an environmentally sustainable future.

• Knox College will maintain its commitment to sustainability through cooperation between Student Senate Sustainability Committee, The Presidential Taskforce on Sustainability, and KARES, creating a coalition of students, faculty and administration.

• Encourage activities that celebrate and promote sustainability. Incorporate ecological costs into the planning of large events on campus.

8. Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools

Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools to help develop the capacity for interdisciplinary teaching about population, environment, and sustainable development.

9. Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally

Work with national and international organizations to promote a worldwide college and university effort toward a sustainable future.

• Expand Environmental Studies off-campus programs such as Green Oaks Term.

• Provide more nation-wide internship and career information concerning environmental studies.

• Incorporate sustainability into Knox’s International Fair.

10. Maintain the Movement

Continue the momentum in carrying out this declaration:

• The Presidential Sustainability Taskforce and the Student Sustainability Committee should maintain contact at bi-monthly meetings.

• Annually reevaluate the Talloires Declaration in accordance with Knox’s current needs, interests, and abilities.

Deana Rutherford

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