Hope College has recently renewed its membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world. Through membership in AASHE, Hope will receive continued support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the institution and in the community.

AASHE enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support.  Membership covers every individual at an institution, so the entire campus community can take advantage of member benefits.  Hope has been a member since 2008.

“We are happy to have Hope College continue its membership with AASHE and take an active role within this community as we all work to advance sustainability,” shared Meghan Fay Zahniser, executive director of AASHE. “We invite students, faculty and staff at the institution to visit our site and create an AASHE account. This will allow everyone to take advantage of the member only resources, free webinars and discounts to our annual conference.”

Sustainability is an ongoing process at Hope that includes not only individual and departmental efforts but the coordinating work of a Sustainability Advisory Committee “Green Team” comprised of faculty, administrators and students.  As noted through the vision statement on the college’s website, “Hope College is striving to meet our present and future needs while minimizing our negative impacts on the ecosystems upon which all life depends.  In our academic courses, student life programs, campus ministry activities, food services, building and grounds policies, and business operations we seek to be responsible stewards of the earth entrusted to us by God.  Called to be global citizens, we will engage the world constructively through our teaching, research, and community service in order to shape Hope College into a model of sustainability.”

Hope is among the institutions that have signed the international Talloires Declaration, a 10-point plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations, and outreach at colleges and universities. Activities and practices at Hope have ranged from green purchasing policies, increased recycling and trayless dining to reduce food waste; to the creation of academic minors in both environmental science and environmental studies; to campus-wide exploration of environmental themes through events like the Critical Issues Symposium, which focused on water and food in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The college is a partner with the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works in the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, which was established in 2014 and is based at Hope.  Hope received statewide recognition for its environmental stewardship through its grounds management practices with certification from the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program in 2014, and in 2015 Hope College Dining received Gold-level recognition in the SEED sustainability program of Creative Dining Services.  Also since 2014, Hope has partnered with Albion College, Antioch College, DePauw University and Oberlin College in the Great Lakes Colleges Association-supported Environmental Dashboard initiative focused on enhancing sustainability initiatives at the five institutions through collaboration.

More information about sustainability efforts at Hope and in the area is available at green.hope.edu and hope.edu/sustainability-institute.

AASHE hosts the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a comprehensive campus sustainability rating system that enables institutions to measure their progress and learn from others. With STARS as a roadmap, institutions can select meaningful and appropriate pathways to sustainability while conserving valuable resources, combating global warming, and building healthier communities.  AASHE also offers extensive online resources and discussion forums for professional development and sharing knowledge.  More information about AASHE is available at aashe.org.