GUNNISON, Colorado: Even before the leaders of Western Colorado University made sustainability a guiding principle of the latest Strategic Plan, programs and departments on campus were looking for ways to reduce waste and limit the University’s carbon footprint.
Now, with sustainability among the top priorities at Western, organizations that share the University’s dream of a sustainable future are taking notice.
In October, which is internationally recognized as Campus Sustainability Month, Western was one of just 11 institutions nationwide awarded a $10,000 Catalyst Grant from Second Nature, a national nonprofit working to accelerate climate action in and through higher education.
“With this grant from Second Nature, we are investing in a Climate Justice Intern,” Pat Magee!, Professor of Wildlife and Conservation Biology and Chair of the University’s Sustainability Action Committee, said. “Our student intern will work closely with the sustainability director, the VP of Inclusivity, and the sustainability faculty to help shape a robust decarbonization plan that elevates our values of diversity, inclusivity, equity, and justice.”
Western intends to reach its goal of being a carbon-neutral campus by creating the new Climate Action Plan, hiring a new sustainability director, and supporting projects on campus and in the classroom that reduce emissions or trap carbon or greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere.
“We’re excited to support Western Colorado University’s project to center justice in their zero carbon emissions goal!” Second Nature’s senior director, Michele Madia, said. “We’re eager to learn of the outcome of the collaboration between the Climate Justice Intern, Western’s Director of Sustainability, and Western’s student body as they revamp the university’s climate action plan.”
To produce the graduates who will take the fight for a better future into the world, Western has more than 20 distinct curricula across five programs that put students directly on the path to a career focused on the environment and sustainability, along with the faculty and staff who support them.
“We are so grateful for this support to help continue moving our institution in a positive direction,” Magee! said.
About Western Colorado University: Established in 1901, Western is a four-year public institution in Gunnison, Colo. that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in over 100 areas of study. Our campus on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains is home to more than 2,000 resident students, while approximately 1,600 additional students take courses at the University remotely.
About Second Nature: Second Nature is committed to accelerating climate action in and through higher education. This is accomplished by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, scale campus climate initiatives, and create innovative climate solutions. Second Nature aims to align, amplify, and bridge the sector’s efforts with other global leaders to advance urgent climate priorities.
Author Credit: Seth Mensing
Photo Credit: Emma Choban