Dina El-Mogazi, director of the Campus Greening InitiativeDina El-Mogazi, director of the Campus Greening Initiative, talks about Bucknell's effort to sustain its future.

By Matt Hughes • Photo by Gordon Wenzel

Q: How do you define sustainability?

Sustainability is about preserving the quality of life for present and future generations, not living off Earth's capital but living off the interest of what our planet provides. That doesn't mean just conserving natural resources, but also making sure everybody is given the opportunity to live in a fair and just world that allows them to have a decent quality of life. So sustainability also incorporates social justice and economic issues.

Q: How can universities lead the discussion about sustainability?

The advantage a university has is that it's inherently experimental. A university can try new approaches more readily than other types of institutions. We've had the opportunity to try projects on smaller scales, like the wind turbine, solar installations and native plants garden at the Environmental Center. We derive educational benefits from these projects, which allow us to move the conversation forward based on what we've learned. Curriculum also is very important. The University educates students, and they go on to take positions of leadership in many different organizations. The Environmental Connections course requirement ensures that all arts and sciences students take a course that addresses sustainability in a personal way, creating a ripple effect that multiplies once the students move on.

Q: What is Bucknell's Sustainability Working Group?

The Sustainability Working Group is an ad-hoc group of faculty who want to advance the conversation of sustainability and address big issues that require upper-level administrative cooperation, such as the way buildings are constructed. They engaged an outside group to help us stage a sustainability summit, which got people together to discuss our assets and barriers. President Bravman has been very responsive. The conversation is now moving to how we implement some of the new recommendations. One idea is a President's Sustainability Council that has decision-making power to improve the sustainability of Bucknell's operations, policies and practices.

Q: How do you talk about sustainability with students?

As keynote speaker at this year's sustainability symposium, David Orr remarked, we tend to forget that the Earth is in a dire crisis. It helps to be reminded of that perspective. However, I think students sometimes respond better to the positive side. For instance, there's been a movement to divest in fossil fuels on campuses. I'd rather see Bucknell invest in sustainable technologies and renewable energy because it casts our efforts in a more positive light.

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