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Update from Whitworth University

Ben Lowe

Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) is becoming quite the leader on climate action.

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I just returned from their campus after an encouraging speaking trip organized by student leader Matt Keiper. Matt is part of their Kipos organization—Students Advocating Environmental Justice—and also serves as the sustainability coordinator for Whitworth’s student government association, the ASWU.

It’s been several years since I last visited Whitworth University, so it was good to be back and catch up with old friends like Dr. Lindy Scott. Aside from the formal speaking events, I was also able to spend considerable time meeting with students and faculty to learn about all their campus is now doing around sustainability.

Whitworth is one of a handful of members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that have signed onto to the Presidents Climate Commitment (AUCPCC). As part of this commitment, they’ve been investing in LEED certified construction and installed significant solar panel arrays on some of their rooftops. They also have a standing sustainability committee comprised of staff, faculty, and students, which recently completed a revision of their Climate Action Report.

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In addition to the committee, their Kipos student organization is leading on a number of awareness and action fronts. It was especially fun to visit their multiple community garden sites and imagine how alive they look during the growing season.

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I was also inspired to see how engaged their student government (ASWU) is on sustainability issues. Every year they appoint a student leader to be their sustainability coordinator and take on a number of climate initiatives such as, in 2014, voting to offset all greenhouse gases emitted from travel due to ASWU events. They hope that the university will find ways to extend this student-led action to cover all institutional travel, including for their service trips and study-abroad programs.

There’s a lot more going on at Whitworth, and there’s even more that they hope to do one day. I left encouraged by all this good work, and inspired by how much of it is being initiated and led by the students. God is at work in exciting ways through our generation and I'm grateful that we at YECA get to be witnesses and participants in this hope-filled movement!

To learn more:

Whitworth University Sustainability Information: http://www.whitworth.edu/GeneralInformation/Sustainability/Index.htm

Student sustainability blog/updates: http://whitworthsustainability.blogspot.com/