The University of Arkansas created the Office for Sustainability in 2007 after signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Since the signing we created a Climate Action Plan that outlines the steps we will take to become a carbon neutral institution by the year 2040.
The mission of the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability is to motivate, facilitate and coordinate innovation and change by partnering with faculty, students, and staff across administrative units to create a culture of sustainability. The OFS will use the campus as a living laboratory for innovation. OFS oversees the implementation of the University of Arkansas’ sustainability goals; convenes the community to share best practices; evaluates and recommends new programs and policies that strive to serve as replicable models to inspire students and future leaders; and facilitates coordination of research initiatives to expand our knowledge of sustainability solutions.
The field of sustainability is almost always described as eco-centric. Proper stewardship of the environment is almost always at the forefront of the discussion and, with good reason, an integral part of sustainability across higher education. But, we recognize the presence of people and communities is really at the heart of sustainability.
We also recognize the need for system based thinking in this field. Everything in the world is connected to everything else and our actions, or inactions, as an office, is based on the integrative exploration of these connections.
As we continue down our path, we will change and take on new identities and new understandings of our role in higher education. We continue to research new energy system applications, carbon sequestration opportunities, reduce waste and increase recycling but we will also find ways to integrate faculty and student research into campus sustainability initiatives, listen and learn how to better strengthen communities, find ways to improve food security, build partnerships across campus, and learn how to keep the dialogue of sustainability open so that we can help shape the world for the better.