Greening Warren Wilson College


Paul Bartels
Environmental Leadership Center

Paul Bartels Address:
WWC CPO 6032
PO Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000

Phone: 828.771.3781

Email: pbartels@warren-wilson.ed

An Agenda for the Future

If this report represents an accurate summary of the current status of campus greening at Warren Wilson College, what does the future hold? What are the practical measures necessary to "take the next step" in environmental activism? The members of the PSGEC make the following suggestions in order both to stimulate further discussion and to provide a possible road map for our continuing efforts:

  1. The rural nature of the campus and the health of the forest, farm, and natural landscape are supremely important to the history and the character of this institution. Over the past five years unprecedented development around the campus has led to substantial impact on our viewshed. Hiking the periphery of our campus now demonstrates the clash between natural and "built" environments. We suggest that the college adopt a very strong stance regarding the value of maintaining and protecting all college property, especially the lands beyond the central campus such as Dam Pasture and Jones Mountain. When possible, purchase of adjacent lands should be encouraged.
  2. Promote, support, and document environmental projects. Projects are what we do well, and we should continue doing them in the future. We should improve our record keeping, and designate a central location for all documents pertaining to the management of the environment. These should also be well publicized and discussed as an educational opportunity for the entire college.
  3. Evaluate and strengthen the shared governance system. Too often, important decisions appear to me made unilaterally with little time for community input. Frequently, the community decision process is too slow to inform important decisions. Furthermore, individual land managers operate as independent decision makers with little supervision or community input, or even dialogue with other land managers. Specifically, we believe the college needs to coordinate the various land use practices and projects into a single land use plan with clear goals and articulated means and administrative mechanisms for community input and decision making.
  4. The remaining sections of environmental Pattern Language should be developed rapidly, but they should represent our highest ideals. They should challenge us to become ever better environmental stewards and they should engage us in creatively achieving environmental performance not thought possible today. Care should be taken to examine all aspects of our environmental policies, past and present to eliminate contradictions and outdated objectives.
  5. Once adopted, our environmental Pattern Language should be incorporated into the Physical Plant Management Plan. Hiring decisions for staff positions, especially the director of the Physical Plant, should include an assessment of commitment to the principles and goals of the pattern language.
  6. In consultation with environmental engineering experts and with maximum integration of class and work crew participation, we should develop an effective auditing program. This will include adopting challenging, quantitative goals for resource efficiency and pollution abatement, and implementing a rigorous monitoring program for judging our progress.
  7. We should continue to discuss and develop a sense of shared values that inform our environmental commitments and practices.
  8. Since individual faculty play such a key role in course selection and topic presentation, it is important that environmental awareness be given appropriate weight in hiring decisions, even beyond positions in the Environmental Studies Department. We suggest the following:
    1. Environmental concern should be written into the "Frank and Earnest" letter as we now do for "global concerns";
    2. We should promote genuine interdisciplinary perspectives among faculty in teaching and research. Social science, economics, humanities, and natural science must combine efforts to attack the major environmental problems of our day;
    3. We need to debate the relevance and appropriateness of weaving environmentalism throughout our liberal arts curriculum. Perhaps we could begin by reading C.A. Bowers' The Culture of Denial: Why the Environmental Movement Needs a Strategy for Reforming Universities and Public Schools.
  9. It is doubtful that serious environmental efforts at Warren Wilson can ever move forward without continued administrative leadership. This would entail at least the following:
    1. sign and support the national Talloires DeclarationApp18;
    2. give genuine and enthusiastic support to worthwhile environmental projects;
    3. provide support for a complete and competent environmental audit;
    4. where cost/benefit analysis is appropriate, use total cost accounting and extended product responsibility in computing the true costs and the true benefits of any project.
  10. At the time of this writing, President Orr is reformulating the PSGEC. From henceforth it will be known as the Campus Greening Committee. It's newly appointed charge is:
    1. to develop specific recommendations, beginning with and drawing upon those indicated above;
    2. to monitor and oversee a process of campus environmental auditing;
    3. to maintain records on campus greening projects, principles and policies;
    4. to help facilitate campus-wide dialogue concerning environmental issues and to bring to campus speakers and resource persons;
    5. to facilitate collaborative efforts, idea exchange and dialogue with other colleges and universities as well as local, regional, and national environmental organizations;
    6. to serve as a responsive ear for campus environmental concerns and ideas; and
    7. to work closely with the Long-Range Land Use Planning Committee and Business Affairs Committee.

The Long Range Land Use Planning Committee continues to have the responsibility of developing guidelines for the environmental areas such as water quality, air quality, energy, etc. previously mentioned. For these guidelines to become part of College policy they must be adopted by the normal college governance process. The Business Affairs Committee's role is to interpret the guidelines adopted by the college and oversee their application. Recommendations from the Campus Greening Committee will go to Long Range Land Use for further action.