CofC Logo

History

Sustainability now
Faculty, students and staff at the College of Charleston have long been interested in issues of sustainability. Key groups engaged in environmental concerns, activities and outreach include the Alliance for Planet Earth (APE, which was formed in the 1990s), and Green CofC, which was established in the 2000s and has since become part of APE. In 2008, a student-initiated survey of 1,100 students showed that over 90 percent of the student body supported paying a "green fee" that would be used to support sustainable operations at the College. In 2010, the Board of Trustees approved a proposal to collect $10 from each student every semester for this purpose. These monies now support the ECOllective fund.

On the academic side, the institution has offered its environmental studies minor for more than 20 years. (In 2016, the name was changed to Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program.) And mirroring larger trends in higher education, the College as a whole acknowledged the importance of sustainability in 2007 when a campuswide committee was formed to begin evaluating and implementing more sustainable practices. 

That committee was still in existence in 2009 when the College formally established its Office of Sustainability, which is under the direction of the Office of Business Affairs. “The Office” (as employees and student interns refer to it) has increased awareness across campus regarding the triple bottom line and overseen the implementation of sustainability strategies primarily within the realm of facilities operation. For example, the office successfully streamlined the College’s recycling program and advanced sustainable operation in the institution’s dining halls. 

In 2015, the College embarked on its next reaffirmation process and as a focus of that, members of the Reaffirmation Leadership Team chose sustainability literacy for the College’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). (The process of reaffirmation as established by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges includes on ongoing program of quality enhancement). This initiative is organized within the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning, and the choice this topic recognizes that the College genuinely values sustainability literacy. Through various strategies, the campus community will enhance student learning around the Triple Bottom Line, research and teach about resiliency and endeavor to help students learn the skills and value of advocating for sustainability from personal to global levels. The QEP on sustainability literacy begins in earnest during the 2017-2018 academic year, with a focus on sustainability literacy through the lens of issues related to water quality and quantity.