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Why we must act

Climate, soil, air, water, energy resources, food, fisheries, and biodiversity are all elements of the global commons, and all have prospects that range from uncertain to perilous. - Editorial, Science Magazine

When scientists and public policy specialists gathered at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, to assess the State of the Planet in 2004, their overriding concern centered on global-scale interactions between the growing human population and Earth processes under increasing strain. The fourfold increase of the human population during the past century, coupled with a roughly 4.5-fold increase of economic activity per person, has led to adverse anthropogenic effects on species extinction, ecosystem functions and biodiversity, climate change, groundwater depletion, soil nutrient losses, and zoonotic disease emergence and transmission, with far too little societal effort invested in mitigating these consequences... There is a public hunger today for information that is not spin or sound bites. - Editorial, Science Magazine

Calls to Action by DANS Partner HEASC (Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium)

Jump links to descriptions below:

  1. Sustainability in Job Descriptions and Performance Reviews
  2. Clean Energy Education
  3. Academic Librarians and Faculty


1. CALL TO ACTION -  Sustainability in Job Descriptions and Performance Reviews
The national trend to include sustainability in all areas of higher education is robust.  Sustainability is being integrated into planning, operations, procurement, governmental relations, curricular and co-curricular activities, and community partnerships. There is now an opportunity to institutionalize this progress. HEASC calls upon higher education administrators and their departments of Human Resources to infuse sustainability principles and practices into job descriptions and most importantly, annual performance evaluations.  Each faculty and staff member can make contributions to the institution’s sustainability practices, and performance evaluations can encourage their efforts. Lead institutions have already moved in this direction, including Arizona State and Cornell University.  Presidents and Executive Administrators have supported these endeavors with the assistance of Human Resources and offices of Sustainability.

2. CALL TO ACTION - for Clean Energy Education 
The urgent societal need and potentials to use less polluting energies (ie renewable energies) and more energy efficiency,  and the need to change our energy wasteful behaviors can be connected to each discipline’s core concepts in both introductory and advanced courses. We can also include this in co-curricular activities. This call to action includes  key components of clean energy education, why clean energy education matters to all, and a list of resources.

  1. Use this Key Curricular or Co-curricular activity: “Course/Campus Energy Conversations”,  learning Civil Discourse & Civic Engagement for a sustainable energy future  -

Also use Community Energy Conversations:

For an introduction to Energy Conversations by recorded webinar, check out <> (start at 4 minutes and 20 seconds to get right into the content)

  1. Participate in the “Power Dialogue”, a civic engagement learning activity about our key energy policies.  -

3. CALL TO ACTION - Academic Librarians and Faculty

Facilitate the discovery, dissemination and preservation of student sustainability projects and research. Showcase student work in the library’s Institutional Repository!

SustainRT, the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and DANS have issued this Call to Action to showcase student sustainability projects and research in institutional repositories on campuses across the U.S.

Academic librarians and all faculty are in a unique and vital position to create a better future -- one with less pollution, healthier ecosystems and higher quality of life for all. We have a role to play in “Creating a Sustainable Community,” the theme of the ACRL 2015 conference.

You can contribute to solving urgent societal sustainability challenges by taking the time to:

  • Encourage faculty to invite students with high quality sustainability projects or papers to submit their final work to the IR.
  • Use keywords such as “student sustainability research” and discipline-specific subject terms to make this work discoverable.
  • Create a sustainability section on the IR specifically for sustainability projects and research (making it easier to track for STARS, too)
  • Add a “SUBMIT” button in the library’s IR so students may submit their own sustainability work for later review by library staff (saving the library time and empowering students to play an active role).
  • Add OpenDOAR, an authoritative directory of academic open access repositories, to one of the library’s resource pages to increase discovery of other repositories. Try reviewing OpenDOAR to see how other repositories preserve student work.
  • Reach out to nearby colleges and universities if your institution does not have an IR and inquire about collaborating to meet this Call to Action.

Here are instructions for searching for student sustainability work in institutional repositories.

Please send your questions, feedback or ideas to advance this Call to Action to: US Partnership Fellow and SustainRT Coordinator Elect, Madeleine Charney at or 413-577-0784.  Your input will be appreciated and valued!




Sustainability Improves Student Learning

SISL is a select group of academic associations and disciplinary societies working together to: 1) increase students' learning in undergraduate courses, and 2) to better prepare students for the 21st-century "Big Questions" that relate to real-world challenges such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change. The portal brings you to hundreds of learning activities, a Beginner's Toolkit, and essential components of sustainability to empower students to participate in forming soultions to urgent societal challenges


Newest Partner Joins DANS 

The International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) has recently joined the DANS efforts to stimulate education for sustainability. Look for some of their resources to be added to our site shortly. In the interim you can visit their website

DANS Partners Win FIPSE Grant

DANS has partnered with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and eleven disciplinary societies to win a U.S. Department of Education FIPSE grant.  Sustainability Improves Student Learning in STEM " will bring the power of the disciplines to:

  1. Increase their learning in undergraduate STEM courses, and
  2. better prepare them for the real-world 21st century “Big Questions" that relate to real-world issues such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change.

Watch the Education for a Sustainable Future Webinar

Listen to Debra Rowe and others as they present a 90-minute webinar on the latest trends in sustainability on campus. Several higher education experts highlight some of the best examples of implementing sustainable projects and practices.

Sample of resources available from DANS members: 


  • Aspen Institute - is a practical and dynamic resource for up-to-date case studies, syllabi and innovative MBA teaching materials on business and sustainability- from corporate governance to sustainable development




For additional resources click here.