Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference

Today the first all-inclusive Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference came to a close at Portland State University. I was incredibly excited to be invited to be part of the conference and help lead a visioning portion of the Student Summit with Amanda Maxwell, our Oregon Co-Director, on behalf of the Cascade Climate Network. The efforts resulted in a beautiful vision document that we hope will be used to further sustainability across the Northwest and which aligns with our CCN Declafesto. Please read the text of the document below or access the PDF version here OHESC Student Summit Vision.

Update: Student governments across the state are starting to endorse and pass resolutions in support of the OHESC Student Summit Vision. ASSOU endorsed the vision a week after the conference and ASUO Senate unanimously voted to pass the vision in resolution form on Wednesday (2/20).


OHESC Student Summit Vision

February 1, 2013

This document was developed by students from across higher education institutions in the Northwest at the 2013 Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference. The majority of institutions represented at this conference are signatories to the President’s Climate Commitment, which require, for example: “Establish a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution.”[1]

The vision of the students in Oregon is to empower and develop leaders through a culture of sustainability that fosters relationships between all campus constituents and the broader communities of which they are a part. A culture of sustainability includes:

  • Expectations of inclusive and collaborative decision making processes, which include students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and the surrounding communities;
  • Embedded sustainability throughout curriculum in all departments;
  • An emphasis on active transportation, and a minimization of privately owned vehicles;
  • Physical spaces that reflect innovative understanding of systems and place-based, culturally responsible, identity; and
  • The establishment of structures to ensure the longevity of such practices.

Action Plan
From this date until OHESC 2019, we will partner with and expect our institution’s leadership to take action on the following tangible steps towards a true culture of sustainability.

Together, we will:

  • Finalize a plan for Zero Waste campuses that will be accomplished by 2025, which equates to 90% diversion from the waste stream;
  • Formalize a commitment to transparent endowments, socially responsible investments, and a complete divestment from fossil fuels;
  • Establish a Green Revolving Fund on each campus;
  • Develop a requirement in each major that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the field of study;
  • Halve the percentage of single-occupancy vehicles used to commute (students, staff, faculty);
  • Create a system for access to affordable, healthy, and just food, which could include establishing a food pantry and/or garden plots for the campus community’s use; and
  • Mandate programs that provide a holistic introduction to sustainability for first year students, new staff, faculty and administrators, which address oppression of both people and the planet.

Through this vision and the previous steps, the Oregon higher education students, will work with our campuses to build off of the work done at the 2013 Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference and bring innovative changes to our communities.

The Students of Oregon

[1] http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/about/commitment

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