Thursday, October 25, 2012

AASHE: Adding to the Discussion on Sustainability --By Lauren Kong

Yesterday was Sustainability Day; a nationally recognized event kicked of by The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Indianapolis’ urban campus, IUPUI, joined the national celebration by hosting their own Sustainability Day event. Students gathered and listened to guest speakers, participated in interactive demonstrations, and were presented with a wealth of information surrounding sustainability. The goal was to reach out to students, educate them on topics of sustainability, and work with community partners to increase sustainable practices in Indiana.

AASHE hosts an annual conference and offers a glimpse into what practices other universities are implementing to become more sustainable. The annual conference also serves up a few days of surrounding oneself with like-minded people to discuss sustainability topics, which is known to be a good motivator. AASHE offers colleges and universities a common denominator in the sustainability equation without being exclusive to student ideas and initiatives; it was developed due to demand from college students creating a well thought out resource for our education system.

AASHE was officially launched in 2006, stemming from the Education for Sustainability Western Network (EFS West). It was the first professional higher education association for the campus sustainability community and grew from regional demand. It serves the Western US and Canada and grew to national demand in 2004. Since the initial launch, AASHE has since become a leader in sustainable development in higher education, working hard to play a vital role in the understanding of inter-dependencies between environmental, social, and economic forces, as well as helping people acquire the skills and abilities that are needed to meet sustainability challenges.

Joining AASHE is an easy task for a university. AASHE only requires a simple membership form and nominal annual dues. Dues are based on student Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) and are then divided between 2 year and 4 year institutions. Membership is also available for non-profits and businesses. The price appears fair, especially when all services available are taken into account. AASHE services include:

· AASHE Annual Conference North America's largest campus sustainability conference
· Professional Development workshops and webinars
· Newsletters including AASHE Announcements, AASHE Bulletin, and STARS Update.
· Resource Center with specialized online resources and directories
· Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
· AASHE Awards Program recognizing sustainability leadership by institutions and individuals
· Supporting the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment 

For information on additional services, see the AASHE webpage.

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