Given the choice, would you rather live in an energy hog of a dorm with poor ventilation and very little natural light, or a dorm that saves energy with a green roof and water-efficient toilets and faucets? Even if you don‘t fancy yourself an environmentalist, it’s important to recognize that the programs and policies a school adopts can greatly impact your quality of life (not to mention the future of the planet).
When decision makers spend the time and effort to employ healthy and efficient practices, they are displaying responsibility and respect for their campus community
Please describe the campus culture of sustainability at College of the Atlantic.
The central focus of COA’s academic program is the interdisciplinary, experiential study of the interactions between humans and the environment. This focus attracts students, faculty, and staff who have a strong commitment to sustainability, and due to the college’s intentionally small size (350 students), there is a strong culture of participation; you can’t really be at COA and not be involved in something having to do with sustainability. Generations of students, taking advantage of our participatory governance system, have developed and implemented a wide range of policies and practices for the greening of our operations. These include fossil fuel divestment, installing clotheslines for the dormitories, and implementing policies on meat procurement, paper purchasing, and eliminating containerized water. Students consistently push the college to improve how we put our environmental ethics into practice.
The culture of sustainability also extends to student work beyond campus. Each year, student delegations participate in the United Nations climate change negotiations. Closer to home, students work on efforts to help area residents afford home energy improvements and sustainably produced foods. Our students also participate in ecology and natural history research on our two island research stations in the Gulf of Maine, and in nearby Acadia National Park, studying everything from marine mammal behavior, to changes in nesting seabird populations, to agroecology and salt tolerance in salamanders.