Benedictine unveils three-year plan to get campus, community thinking 'green'
July 21, 2008
Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
Eighteen years ago, Benedictine University sponsored an event titled “Year for the Earth” that focused on the Benedictine value of stewardship and the University’s commitment to the environment.
Benedictine’s commitment to the environment has not waned, but the circumstances facing the world have worsened. Climate change, a rise in cancer and other environmentally-linked diseases, food and gas shortages, and the widespread use of unsafe water sources are a few of the problems that have increased dramatically.
Benedictine University demonstrated its concern last year by sponsoring four major environmental events: the DuPage Environmental Summit; the presentation of “An Inconvenient Truth;” the Center for Mission and Identity faculty seminar on the environment; and an all-day seminar titled “How Faith and Reason Can Save the World.”
But the University is committed to doing more.
“The time is right for Benedictine to go green, not only because it is Catholic and Benedictine, but because it is the right thing to do,” said Vince Gaddis, Ph.D., associate professor and chairman of the Department of History.
“We believe it is time to call on students, alumni, area schools and the general public to do whatever we can to make a difference here and throughout the world,” he said.
Beginning this fall, Benedictine will kick off a three-year program, “Years for the Environment,” aimed at moving the campus from education and conversation into action. The effort will incorporate curriculum, speakers, events and community outreach.
Some events such as the environmental summit, the “Faith and Reason” series and a campus-wide reading will be integrated into the program on an annual basis. Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change” is the scheduled reading for the first year.
“Field Notes,” which will be used both as a campus-wide reading and a required reading for incoming freshmen, expands on a three-part series Kolbert wrote for the New Yorker magazine. The book is a review of the scientific evidence and of the failure of politicians to act. Few books on global warming have had much widespread social or political effect.
Two educational events have already been planned for the Fall 2008 semester: a Global Issues Forum titled “Environmental Policy and the 2008 Elections” on October 21, and a Global Studies Symposium on November 7 titled “Faith and Reason: What’s Sufficiency?” which will address sustainable development and the global food crisis.
In addition, an array of environmentally-themed courses will be offered each semester. Many existing courses – particularly those in biology, humanities, religious studies and anthropology – will incorporate environmental topics into their curriculum. These courses would lead to a Certificate of Achievement in Environmental Studies.
A major speaker, student presentations and other activities will cap off each year, followed by assessment of the previous year’s accomplishments.
“Enhancement of our existing efforts in areas such as recycling and reducing waste will begin in year one and continue with monitoring during the second and third year,” Gaddis said. “We hope to engage all parts of the University and the community.”
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education
recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes
magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business
as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.