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UD to create Office of Sustainability and the Environment

UD to create Office of Sustainability and the Environment

The University of Delaware is reviewing sustainability on campus, and setting goals to be greener.

Dennis Assanis, President at UD, announced several actions that the school intends to take in the future to improve its sustainability ranking. He used Earth Day to announce several initiatives such as implementing renewable energy and recycling.

According to the university’s Sustainability Council, one of their most important commitments is to create an Office of Sustainability and Environment before the start of each academic year.

Dr. Assanis’s announcement on Friday was more an operational move to look at enacting part our strategic plan which is focused on sustainability and creating this office for sustainability and the environment, so there is a fully staffed staff office driving any operational changes happening on campus, Andrea Boyle, UD spokesperson, said.

Kristie Arlotta is the undergraduate representative on the Sustainability Council. She said that UD is at bottom of the list compared with other institutions.

Arlotta stated that we don’t recycle, we don’t compost, we produce enormous amounts of waste and a lot of energy on campus. We also do not invest in renewable energy. We do not provide an equitable future to all students who study here.

She also stated that students cannot do it all without the support of an administrator.

UD fired its Sustainability Manager in Fall 2020 to reduce budget for pandemics, a move strongly opposed by the Sustainability Council.

Higher Education institutions in the US receive an average of 73.7% of credits available in the “Coordination and Plan” category. However, UD earned 0% in a 2020 rating due to the lack of a sustainability officer.

Boyle also noted other changes made by the university in recent years, including the Climate Scholars program which was launched this school year. The program’s purpose is to help students understand the complexities and nuances of climate change and to engage with the community in order to find solutions. The four-year program requires that Climate Scholars complete course requirements and a capstone project.

In Fall 2021, the Gerard J. Mangone Climate Change Science & Policy hub was created to bring together classroom academics and research.

Boyle stated that we are bringing everything together in the hub. This is intentional from the university’s perspective, as sustainability is so important. We want all those involved in these topics on campus to come together and share ideas, innovations, and make the most of what they have.

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Assanis sent an email to students Friday stating that they will also promote and expand interdisciplinarity research.

According to the national Sustainability Monitoring, Assessment & rating System, UD ranks in the lower 25th%ile of all rated institutions. Andrea Boyle, spokesperson for UD, stated that the school is a leader when it comes to research, despite a 2/18 rating in it.

These include the conversion of plant waste to plastics, powering grid with electric vehicles, and offshore winds.

Boyle pointed out that there are 15 majors that are at least partially focused on climate change. Some majors, such animal, plant, or marine science, have been around for a while. However, there are newer routes like environmental data analytics, digital mapping, and digital mapping that give students the modern skills and tools necessary to combat climate change.

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