By Donna Chadderton, John Olson, Ph.D., and Paul C. Rosier, Ph.D. with contributions from students Caitlin Green, Liz Lindner, and Christine Simmons
In his April 1970 Earth Day Keynote Address to Villanova University students, faculty and staff, noted Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich stated that citizens need to hold politicians accountable for a clean environment because of what is at stake – individual, community, and planetary health.
In 2004, Villanova University formally implemented the Campus Environmental Sustainability Policy, pledging the university to (1) conduct its activities in an ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable manner; (2) support the concepts of sustainability in its curriculum, research, and related activities; and (3) function as a sustainable community, embodying responsible consumption, promoting ecological literacy and environmentally sound practices among its students, faculty, staff, and graduates, and supporting these values in the local community. The University has an extensive recycling program, and participates in RecycleMania, typically placing in the top five schools despite its relatively small size. The campus itself is a registered Arboretum that practices Integrated Pest Management. Villanova’s Dining Services has removed trans- fats from all dining halls, composts waste, provides recyclable utensils made from potato starch, and serves only organic salad in the student center. New construction on campus strives to meet at least LEED Silver Standards. In 2007, Father Peter M. Donohue signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging Villanova’s support for the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. To implement this commitment and promote sustainability in general, the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee (PESC) was formed, and includes faculty, staff, and students from around the university.
Of special note is the expanded role that students have played in promoting Earth Day on and off campus. In recent years the Villanova Environmental Group, in coordination with the Earth Day Committee, has held an Earth Day eco-concert and dinner, which generates student petitions and broader environmental awareness; recent petitions have included a call for 20% of Villanova's power come from renewable sources like wind by 2020, encouraged the University president to continue work to foster a sustainable campus, and sent letters to President Obama to urge him to foster a green economy and to pass bold climate legislation. Student reception of Villanova's sustainability initiatives has been very positive. Each successive class of Villanova students is better educated on the moral, scientific, historical, and political imperatives of sustainability.
Respect for the earth based on the Catholic Social Teaching principle of “stewardship” and the recognition of the obligation to promote sustainable living for new generations are now part of the everyday lives of all Villanovans. Earth Day has become a daily observance on campus and beyond the campus by our faculty, and staff, and graduates worldwide.
For information about Earth Day 2012 events, please see the Earth Day website: www.villanova.edu/earthday.
Donna Chadderton works at the Falvey Memorial Library and is a member of the Earth Day Committee and the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee; John Olson is Associate Professor of Biology and chair of the President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee; and Paul C. Rosier is Associate Professor of History and chair of the Villanova University Earth Day Committee. Caitlin Green, Elizabeth Lindner, and Christine Simmons are students in Villanova’s Environmental Studies program and members of the Villanova Environmental Group and of the Earth Day Committee.
Paul C. Rosier, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History