Steve Maruszewski, Assistant Vice President of Physical Plant, was part of the Environmental Stewardship Key Initiative within Finance and Business, which evolved into a University-wide sustainability strategy. This has resulted in operational efficiencies within Finance and Business, Outreach, and research and academics. At the September 30, 2010 Quality Advocates session, Maruszewski provided a summary of the process used in developing a plan for integrating sustainable behavior through the University, Strategy 7.8: Establish and Foster Sustainable Environments of Penn State’s current strategic plan.
Even though Penn State is recognized nationally for its leadership and initiatives in sustainability, the University is moving further towards “a clearly articulated strategy that empowers all the constituents at the University to make Penn State the most sustainable institution in the country and allows us to be a model that advances global sustainability.” To develop an informed strategic plan, a core working group with broad representation from the University is seeking input from all constituents, including institutional leadership; faculty, staff, and students; corporate partners; non-governmental organizations (NGO); and governmental agency partners. With the input from the constituents, the working group is in the process of developing a sustainability strategic planning document.
A challenge in developing this strategic plan is having people understand what sustainability is. The working group discussed providing a working definition for sustainability but decided against it, purposely keeping it broad because, “If we asked everybody here in the room to provide a definition of sustainability, we would have as many definitions as people in the room.” The group instead focused on values and measurable objectives and thought it better to answer, “What are the qualities of the institution, if we acted in a sustainable manner?”
Keeping the definition broad allows different units to integrate sustainability into their department’s mission differently. For example, the adviser for “Heal House,” talked about how students in this learning community for healthy living are incorporating the concepts of sustainability with their core mission regarding human wellness. Thus, sustainability becomes part of the community’s culture instead of an afterthought. Units can establish a customized “Green Team” and help the University advance this sustainability initiative. For more information on how your unit can become “green” go to www.green.psu.edu.
View Maruszewski’s slides.
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