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Our Initiatives

task force

We believe these sustainability initiatives will be of considerable interest to Clark University alumni and friends of the environment

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 is 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 also is responsible for managing and monitoring Clark’s Climate Action Plan progress, and oversees 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 reports to the President.

The Task Force provided a Progress Report to the President in 2012; 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, in 2013; and, from 2013 to 2014, discussed and crafted an updated range of sustainability metrics and goals that would preclude membership in STARS. 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.

An Environmental Sustainability Report published by the Task Force in 2007:

  • 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

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.

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