In 2014, I moved to the Pacific Northwest, becoming Gonzaga University’s first Director of Sustainability. It was a big change from a faster paced, large research institution back east. It didn’t take long to realize that Gonzaga was different than that—a place to truly instill a practice of sustainability at a very personal level. One of the biggest shifts for me was seeing sustainability right in our mission statement. Here’s my favorite part:
“The Gonzaga experience fosters a mature commitment to dignity of the human person, social justice, diversity, intercultural competence, global engagement, solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, and care for the planet. Grateful to God, the Gonzaga community carries out this mission with responsible stewardship of our physical, financial, and human resources.”
It was too good to be true! The “three-legged stool” of sustainability—”people, planet, and prosperity” were right in the mission statement of my new employer! As I listened to the campus community, I developed a strategy that tied in our Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic identity. I came up with the CREATE model. Here’s what it means:
Care for Creation is making sure our practices as a campus are respectful of the environment. We build LEED buildings like the Hemmingson Center, are mindful of our landscaping practices and engaging in practices that ensure that we are caring for our campus, our common home.
Reflection is thinking critically about how we fit into this bigger picture and how we can be in balance with our world as a campus and a community. We provide opportunities to practice sustainability in their own rhythm, whether it is helping bring fresh local produce to campus through LINC Box or working with Spokane Transit to offer complimentary bus passes to Gonzaga students, or zipping around town with a nearly carbon free scooter.
Experience is developing opportunities for the campus to play an active role in the creation of a culture of sustainability. The Campus Sustainability Forum meets monthly, and offers students an opportunity to share, discuss, and act on sustainability issues at Gonzaga. We support student sustainability related organizations and clubs, and work with students to achieve their goals!
With Action, we help facilitate conversations on campus regarding issues such as socially responsible investment/divestment and environmental justice.
Teaching infuses the foundation of our University with the principles of sustainability. We serve as a resource to faculty that are seeking to integrate campus sustainability into their coursework or research.
Engagement ensures that we are stewards of our common home, and that extends beyond the borders of Gonzaga. Service immersion trips like Mission Possible through the Center for Community Engagement help shape this. The Office of Sustainability works to support programs that facilitate unique learning opportunities for students around sustainability in the community.
-Jim Simon, Director of Sustainability