During the first week of March, Furman University celebrated the dedication of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability. As the Bank of America Sustainability Fellow, I was afforded the opportunity to participate in several exciting events throughout the week! On Monday evening, I attended a dinner that President and Dr. Shi hosted in their home for the board of Second Nature (the group that oversees the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment) and Andy Revkin of The New York Times. On Tuesday morning, I had lunch with Governor Christine Todd Whitman (former governor of New Jersey and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency), who presented a lecture later that day titled “The Changing Nature of Environmental Policy: How We Got Where We Are and How We’ll Get Where We’re Going.” Perhaps the most exciting event of the week (as hard as it is to pick just one) was the dedication ceremony on Tuesday afternoon for which I was the student speaker. In lieu of a typical blog post, I have decided to share my remarks from the ceremony. Enjoy!
After rolling out of bed fifteen minutes before class starts, the life of the purple Paladin begins. Class, class, lunch, class, meeting, workout, shower, dinner, meeting, library, crash! It doesn’t sound much different from the life of any other college student. What is different, though, is that Furman students go through the daily grind sustainably.
Furman’s numerous sustainability projects and programs are so much a part of students’ daily lives that they may not even realize that their routine actions are, in fact, lowering their environmental impact. Furman students use less water because of low-flow showerheads, they consume organically-grown herbs from the Furman Farm in the Dining Hall, and soon, their apartments will be heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps. With a little effort, students can become even more involved in sustainability at Furman by volunteering at the Furman Farm, joining one of the many sustainability-oriented student groups, or collaborating with professors on sustainability-related research.
In order to further engage the campus community, I have worked with the Shi Center to help establish an innovative Campus Sustainability Help Desk, through which we answer questions from students, faculty, and staff. Also, through my contributions to the Sustainability Fellows’ blog, I am able to share my thoughts on current sustainability issues and foster discussion on campus. From my experiences this year, I have learned that one doesn’t have to be an environmental science major to get involved in campus and national sustainability efforts. I’m no scientist, but I can use my interests in communications and journalism to raise environmental awareness, and my work at the Shi Center has helped reveal these passions.
Today, as we celebrate the dedication of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, we recognize Furman’s role in producing generations of environmentally-responsible citizens. Furman’s comprehensive approach to sustainability helps us realize the impact of our actions today and how they will shape our world tomorrow.