Sierra magazine lists Clark among America's Top 20 'Coolest Schools'

Sierra magazine’s fifth annual ranking of the nation’s “Coolest Schools” places Clark University at No. 17. A salute to the efforts of colleges around the country helping to solve climate issues and operate sustainably, the Sierra cover feature spotlights the schools that are making a true impact for the planet, from Clark’s bike-share program to UC Irvine’s energy-efficiency standards to Stanford’s commitment to maintaining undeveloped open space. “Sustainability is a core value at Clark; an undeniable part of our culture,” said Jenny Isler, Sustainability Coordinator at Clark. “As a small, research-based liberal arts University, we have always asked questions about the world. One of the most important questions of the day is, ‘How can we do better in protecting the earth’s resources?’ ” A sampling of sustainability initiatives and activities at Clark includes:

  • the student-run Community Thrift Store that, since opening a year ago, has diverted more than 10 tons (with only 3,000 students) and saved its customers $60,000;
  • free bikes and bike repair clinics offered by Cycles of Change, the student-managed bike share program, offer greener transportation options on and off campus;
  • cross-disciplinary and on-site research is the hallmark of the popular Sustainable University course, resulting in numerous student initiatives;
  • Clark’s Graduate School of Management’s  innovative course design has been recognized as  one of the top “green”  business schools in the country by Entrepreneur magazine;
  • Clark students experience intimate contact with cutting-edge research on climate change, in class and through fieldwork;
  • all pre- and post-consumer organic materials from Clark campus dining services, cafes and catering – including paper goods and compostable containers  – are composted;
  • a new waste removal contract focuses on resource management, thus rewarding the University for increased recycling and composting through savings;
  • and upgrades to campus water systems – including innovative dual-flush retrofits – will save 4 million gallons of precious water annually, equal to a line of tanker trucks 2½ miles long.

“Here at Clark, we know and act on the knowledge that every person makes a difference in everything they do, every day,” Isler adds. “We are invested in solutions and in demonstrating change. I am honored to work with the students at Clark who show initiative and effort as the leaders of the future.” Here is the complete list of Sierra magazine’s top 20 schools of 2011:

  1. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

  2. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)

  3. University of California San Diego (San Diego, CA)

  4. Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC)

  5. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)

  6. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)

  7. University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

  8. University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)

  9. Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)

  10. Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)

  11. University of New Hampshire (Durham, NJ)

  12. Appalachian State University (Boone, NC)

  13. Colby College (Waterville, ME)

  14. Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)

  15. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

  16. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)

  17. Clark University (Worcester, MA)

  18. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)

  19. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)

  20. University of Maryland (College Park, MD)

Sierra also featured the stories of educators and students who are committed to immersive learning, and who take their lessons outside the confines of the classroom and into the real world, to places like Bali in Indonesia, New York’s Adirondack Mountains, and Utah’s Navajo Nation. According to a 2010 Princeton Review report, 64% of prospective college students take a university's commitment to environmental issues into consideration when deciding where to apply and enroll. Students care deeply about green issues and are attracted to institutions that are taking the initiative to solve environmental problems. The complete rankings, with comprehensive descriptions of each school’s environmental efforts, are available online at “When students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and proceed to get their hands dirty in the real world, they realize the potential they have to make a difference,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine editor-in-chief. “We’re thrilled to highlight these forward-thinking schools for emphasizing environmental responsibility, and for teaching, inspiring, and empowering students to affect real change.” Sierra magazine is the official publication of the Sierra Club, America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 1.4 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, go to Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty leads a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offers a range of expertise. Clark is nationally recognized in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. An archive of Clark News Hub postings can be found at