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Our Initiatives

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Clark University’s administration focuses on environmental and climate sustainability initiatives; while Clark’s academic and alumni interests also include social and economic sustainability issues.

In 2006, Clark President John Bassett established the Clark University Environmental Sustainability Task Force, comprising faculty, administration, staff, and graduate and undergraduate student representatives. Its mission was to promote environmental sustainability at Clark by increasing awareness of environmental and sustainability issues on campus; researching environmental impacts of University activities along with recommendations for improvement; and coordinating activities related to the environmental sustainability of the University. The Task Force is the entity responsible for managing and monitoring Clark’s Climate Action Plan progress, and for oversight of the Food Systems Working Group, a committee of faculty, administration, staff, and students who are responsible for achieving the goals of the Real Food Challenge, signed in 2013 to commit Clark to serving 20 percent real food by 2020. The Task Force reported to the President. The Environmental Sustainability Task Force has not met since 2015 due to its departing members and Chair not being replaced.

The Task Force provided a Progress Report to the President in 2012;  in 2013 and 2015 assessed and presented a justification for Clark to subscribe to AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Ranking program (STARS) to chart the University’s progress, and to encourage systemic change; and from 2013 to 2014, discussed and crafted an updated range of sustainability metrics and goals for the University. The Task Force also received a Climate Action Plan Update report from Sharon Bort ’14 that addressed new technologies, revisited existing mitigation strategies, and considered future actions based on the achievement of Clark’s 2015 interim greenhouse gas emissions goal.

The Task Force published an Environmental Sustainability Report in  2007 that led to the creation of  our Climate Action Plan and also:

  • Introduced a set of metrics by which to measure and track the environmental footprint of the University
  • Identified and assessed programs and initiatives undertaken at Clark to improve our environmental performance
  • Increased awareness of the environmental impacts of activities of the University
  • Disseminated information about environmental sustainability at Clark and promoted action toward sustainability

Educating students to be responsible citizens

Clark University’s dedication to sustainability is expressed in our commitment to educating students to be responsible citizens of the world. As we help students develop the intellectual, social, and practical skills required to address the complex challenges of a rapidly changing world, including increasingly difficult environmental challenges, we recognize that the global community rightly looks to universities to provide leadership.

Clark University has a long history of involvement with environmental issues.

co-generatorFaculty and students have pioneered research on natural hazards and risk, land use change, pollution control, and many other environmental issues. This tradition continues today with research at the George Perkins Marsh Institute on the human dimensions of global environmental change, as well as teaching and research in academic departments across campus. At the same time, faculty, staff, and students have spearheaded efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the University through such actions as establishing a cogeneration plant on campus (in the 1980s), a recycling center, green buildings, and other initiatives.

The global community rightly looks to universities to provide leadership in addressing these challenges, building on the core mission of research, teaching, and learning. One important aspect of that leadership is to take stock of our own environmental impact, and to explore ways in which we can enhance the environmental sustainability of our campus.

Following the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord, Clark President David Angel signed “We Are Still In,” an open letter released June 5, 2017 to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement, joining leaders of over 350 colleges and universities, 300+cities, states and tribes, and more than 3000 organizations & businesses.

We Are Still In Poster

The letter represents the “broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action” and begins, “We, the undersigned mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.”

“A strong commitment to sustainability, on our campus and around the world, is a hallmark of Clark’s academic and research legacy,” said Clark President David Angel. “Sustainability is a signature focus of my administration, and I applaud our faculty, students and staff who work daily to further the University’s efforts. Clark remains committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leveraging the research and policy work of our community toward the challenge of our time.”

According to Jenny Isler, director of sustainability at Clark, the University has a bold Climate Action Plan committing to net zero emissions by 2030. “We are well on our way, with 2016 emissions at only 13,300 tons of CO2, 15 percent below 2009 levels, and continued investment in energy efficiency on campus,” she adds. “With the ‘We Are Still In’ coalition, and Massachusetts in the U.S. Climate Alliance, Clark University will continue to be a climate change leader in working toward the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

To view the full statement, quotes and list of signatories, visit: www.WeAreStillIn.com

From the open letter:

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities, businesses and investors, representing a sizeable percentage of the U.S. economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.

“It is imperative that the world know that in the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities, investors and businesses. Together, we will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.”

The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment

ACUPCC logoIn June 2007, then-Clark President John Bassett signed the President’s Climate Commitment. Through this action, Clark became a charter signatory to an exciting initiative aimed at mobilizing the resources of colleges and universities in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its core goal is to find ways for colleges and universities to achieve climate neutrality, or net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This is a bold vision, one to which we and other universities aspire but have not yet determined how to achieve.

Coordinating campus activities aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the responsibilities of the campus Sustainability Task Force. Clark’s Climate Action Plan gives 2030 as the date that Clark will be climate neutral; making progress toward this goal will not be easy, and it will require a willingness on the part of all members of the Clark University community to make this a priority for many years to come.

“The fight against global warming will shape the 21st century. Colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to eliminate global warming emissions, and by providing the knowledge and educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality.”
— The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment

Contact Information

Sustainable Clark

Mailing Address:
  • Clark University
    950 Main Street
    Worcester, MA 01610
  • Office Location:
    Facilities Management (Gates House)
    501 Park Avenue
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