Sustainability in the College of Technology

Written by  //  February 26, 2013  //  Alumni, Business and Industry, Faculty, Staff  //  No comments

We have begun a soft roll-out of an initiative related to sustainability for the College of Technology. Sustainability is important not only for the future of the world but also to the future graduates of our college who will become industry and community leaders. Sustainability is important because all of the choices we make today will affect the future. By continuing with our current unsustainable actions, the opportunities for future generations will become increasingly limited.

The planet generates all natural systems that we as humans rely on for sustenance. If we continue to degrade and disrupt these systems the plants and animals that function within them will suffer. This will, in turn, affect us as humans as we rely on them for the air we breeze, food we eat and water we drink. What we do as educators to raise our students’ awareness of sustainability is vitally important. Our goal would be to create a culture of sustainability where our actions will become habits.

The integration of sustainability activities through the curriculum is an important goal. You will be hearing more about the initiative in the coming weeks and months, but let me share with you a few important facts:

  • 87 percent of Millennials and 69 percent of all segments say sustainability influences where they work
  • 79 percent of Millennials and 59 percent of all segments say sustainability influences where they invest

Companies that support a social or environmental cause and who engage their employees in that cause are more likely to have loyal employees. For example: Employees who are engaged with their company’s cause are more likely to agree with the following:

  • I am proud of my company’s values (79 percent for those engaged versus 68 percent for those not involved in the cause)
  • I feel a strong sense of loyalty to my company (79 percent for those engaged versus 61 percent for those not involved in the cause)
  • My company’s commitment to addressing social/environmental issues is one of the reasons I chose to work there (57 percent for those engaged versus 39 percent for those not involved in the cause)

Aligning a company or organization and brand with a cause that resonates with the public leads to goodwill termed the “halo effect”. Surveyed consumers rate such companies more highly than others in trust, endorsement, bonding and innovation. Digital media and social media can spread that “halo” quickly. For example, 53 percent of Millennials (largest social media user group) say that they would promote a socially responsible brand on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Studies by faculty of the Sloan School of Business at MIT show that the fit of the cause with the brand of the organization is not important (for the brands studied).

Finally, let me share a working vision statement for the sustainable initiative:

The College of Technology’s Vision For A Sustainable Future

Purdue University’s College of Technology aims to lead in sustainability through fostering sustainability as a core value across the college. Sustainability is key in maintaining the life of systems and more importantly, the life of our world, in the future. Sustainability is defined as “maintaining the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.” 

The College of Technology plans to foster a culture where faculty, staff, and students are engaged in practicing sustainability on both a formal and informal level. On the formal level, we seek to integrate sustainable practices into the college’s planning and daily operations by sustainability programs, student-led research and policy implementation. The practice of sustainability on the informal level will be legitimized through engaged conversation and education as well as the general raising of awareness through social and educational events.

The College of Technology recognizes the importance of maintaining a balance between the environment, the economy and our society to reach sustainability at an optimum level. For each of these three “pillars” are vital in sustaining our system as a whole, life itself.

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