While education deserves notice from political
candidates and the general public, not one issue within this topic touches
on the environment or “green” education. Instead, the focuses are
on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB),
teacher funding, gang control, and whether or not evolution is valid. Keith
Schillo, from the Central Kentucky Green Party, suggests that many problems
within the U.S. educational system could be resolved
by changing the role of the student from a passive observer to an active participant
in the real world. He wrote:
“Students may learn about discrimination, pollution, loss of biodiversity,
sweatshops, unemployment, demise of small farms and civil wars, but these issues
are rarely, if ever, linked to the way they live their lives in their schools,
homes and communities.”
Unfortunately, Schillo doesn’t have an answer for how to create this “green”
state of mind, where the student becomes more aware and proactive with his or
her surroundings. Perhaps one solution to how to achieve a green education is
to focus on educational sources that focus on the environment and social constructs
within that environment. Unfortunately, we discovered only thirteen colleges
within the continental U.S. with this campus-wide focus.
The eleven schools listed below are members of the North American Alliance
for Green Education. More searches revealed two other schools that focused on
the envrionment throughout their entire curriculum. Based upon Schillo’s theory
that schools need to focus on changing the entire school environment to create
active and environmentally aware students, schools that offered environmental
courses within a larger scheme were not included in this list.
North American Alliance for Green Education
NAAGE is a student-inspired consortium
of environmental colleges and organizations with a commitment to environmental
studies programs. Their mission is to combine institutional strengths to maximize
educational opportunities for students and faculty. Part of this process includes
the “Ecoversity,” where students and instructors participate in inter-institutional
courses, independent studies, and field experiences. Some of these activities
include student exchange programs and an adjunct mentorship network that offers
adult learning programs that extend well beyond the physical campus of the college.
If you want to attend a college that takes an active part in the NAAGE philosophy,
you can apply to any one of the following schools:
- Antioch College: Antioch College,
founded in 1852, is part of Antioch University, which includes the Antioch
New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire; Antioch University Seattle
in Washington; Antioch University Southern California in Los Angeles and Santa
Barbara; and Antioch University McGregor in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The University’s
administrative offices are also located in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
- Audubon Expedition
Institute: The Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley University, located
in Cambridge, Massachussets, is an academically rigorous alternative to traditional
colleges and universities for undergraduate or graduate students pursuing
a deeper ecological understanding of environmental education, leadership and
- College of the Atlantic:
COA is a small school, but with a major difference – literally. All students
major in Human Ecology, the study of human relationships with the environment.
This major gives you the flexibility to design your own course of study. COA
is located in Bar Harbor, Maine.
- Green Mountain College: As an environmental
liberal arts college, Green Mountain offers students a special opportunity
to integrate modern environmental thought into a traditional liberal arts
or pre-professional course of study, regardless of major. Undergraduate students
may earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Fine Arts
degree in one of the College’s 25 majors and academic programs at this
Poultney, Vermont location.
- Naropa University: Naropa University,
located in Boulder, Colorado, is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal
arts institution dedicated to advancing contemplative education. Naropa University
comprises a four-year undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts,
education, environmental leadership, psychology and religious studies, where
learning integrates the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions.
- New College of California: New
College, with a main location in Alameda, California, is committed to education
in support of a just, sacred, and sustainable world. They offer degrees in
culture, ecology and sustainable communities, activism and social change,
writing, and more at several campuses.
- Northland College: Northland,
located in Ashland, Wisconsin, combines a strong liberal arts curriculum with
a focus on the environment. Their goal is to be the nation’s leading
environmental liberal arts college.
- Prescott College: Prescott College,
located in Prescott, Arizona, is an independent, liberal arts college offering
bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as teacher certification. Their educational
programs reflect the college’s commitment to the environment and social justice.
Prescott also operates a branch campus in Tucson.
- Unity College: Unity College, located
in Unity, Maine, provides faculty members who publish in peer-reviewed journals,
administer immersion semesters at Outward
Bound School, testify at state legislative committee hearings on utilities
and energy, collaborate with students on research presented at national conferences,
develop team-teaching programs, create demonstrations of on-campus renewable
energy options, restructure the organic chemistry labs to reduce toxic waste,
and direct an environmental writing retreat that attracts participants from
across the country.
- Sterling College: Sterling
College, located in Craftsbury Commons, Vermont, provides unusual experiences
for its students. A work-study program that focuses on sustaining and ‘greening’
Sterling campus is just one opportunity. Additional studies include programs
that take the student into the field with writing workshops, mountain cultures
seminars, a sustainable agriculture seminar and more.
- Warren Wilson
College: From environmental awards to academic rankings, WWC – located
in Asheville, North Carolina, is noted for its unique “Triad” of
work, service, and academic offerings. You may earn your bachelor’s in any
of 40 majors and concentrations and 27 minors taught by professors from some
of the nation’s top graduate programs. If you choose integrative studies,
you can design your own major, such as environmental spirituality and art
or women’s performance art.
Two other colleges that aren’t included in NAAGE, but that bill themselves
as ‘environmental’ schools include:
- Ecosa Institute: The Ecosa
Institute, located in Prescott, Arizona, was founded in the belief that a
new design philosophy informed by the natural world is critical to the future
survival of our species.Through Ecosa experiences, students learn what it
will be like to work on real projects in a professional setting, providing
an excellent opportunity for career exploration. Ecosa offers semester and
- Huxley College of the Environment:
Huxley College of the Environment has a forty-year history of producing leaders
in natural sciences and social sciences. Whether your interests are in urban
planning or endangered species you can be “in the field” only minutes
from campus, which is located between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British
Unfortunately, NAAGE doesn’t offer information on how to become involved in
this consortium, although you could contact
them to ask about their criteria for students and/or for colleges or universities.
Or, you can contact Second Nature,
an organization that can help you and your college, university or association
develop, advance, and achieve a vision of a truly sustainable higher education
institution. Since 1993, SN has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators
at more than 500 colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability
the foundation of all learning, practice, and collaboration with local communities.
Many colleges have adopted programs in environmental sciences, yet these programs
are part of a larger scheme that may not be environmentally friendly. Take,
for instance, Boston University (BU). BU maintains a Center
for Energy and Environmental Studies and they focus on environmental factors
in their public
health program; however, BU has not been concerned with seeking alternative
energy sources or conserving energy in recent years, according to science education
associate professor Douglas Zook.
Zook and Donald DeRosa, a curriculum and teaching assistant professor and co-founder
of SED Green, and about fifteen members of SED’s green initiative finally managed
to install recycling bins in the SED building in December 2006. As of March
2007, this group was awaiting approval from BU’s Provost David Campbell and
Facilities Management and Planning staff members to install solar panels and
a wind turbine on the roof of the SED building. According to the news
Gaining support for the recycling initiative has been difficult because
BU has not been concerned with seeking alternative energy sources or conserving
energy in recent years, Zook said. “It was very hard to get that kind of
involvement and get the school administration to see [environmental sustainability]
as an important issue,” he said. “I don’t think BU is a leader in
As with BU, other colleges might maintain a statement of environmental policy,
but those policies seem vague and nebulous, or they’re limited to efforts provided
by one area of an entire campus. For instance, Yale has a statement
of environmental policy, but it’s limited to the efforts offered by the
students and faculty at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
Other colleges, like Pomona College in Claremont, California, have environmental
policies in place, but there are no updates to show active participation or
success factors in set goals.
As Schillo states, the only way to obtain a true green education is to live
a green life in an environment that promotes green policies. If you already
attend a school that merely mouths an environmental policy, find a local environmental
club or group that can help you bring environmentally unfriendly matters to
the attention of those who can make a difference. You can find many resources
online for this latter effort, such as the document entitled, Starting
or Revitalizing a School Environmental Club [PDF]. Otherwise, you may end
up in an environmental program within a school that ignores the vital contribution
that schools of higher learning can bring to this essential topic.