Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences
Although the idea of sustainability means different things to different people, one of the most common definitions comes from the UN’s 1987 Brundtland Report, which states that sustainability is that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In practice, sustainability means balancing environmental protection with economic vitality and social justice. Since the 1990s, sustainability has become a powerful framework for organizational transformation, particularly at institutions of higher education. Today over 1,350 colleges and universities offer degrees in sustainability and use sustainability as a guiding principle for administrative decisions across campus. On our own campus, the Environmental Studies and Sustainability major grew 144% in the past year while enrollment in other programs declined. For many people born in the early twenty-first century, sustainability is an exciting movement that seeks solutions to the daunting economic, environmental, and social problems that their generation will face. As training grounds for the future, universities like Northern have a responsibility to prepare today’s students for these global challenges.
Sustainability Survey Report, April 2016. Mittlefehldt, Sarah; Thompson, Jessica; Headings, Rachel; and Skrocki, Ella. Northern Michigan University, Marquette. April 2016.