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Student Driven History

Many environmental projects at this school would not have been possible without countless motivated students like you behind them. Through classes, internships, and Capstones Colby-Sawyer students have played a key role in catalyzing the college’s initial sustainability commitment and continuing to move those initiatives forward.

It all started in 2006-2007 when the Community-Based Research Project class founded GreenROUTES (Redirecting Our campUs Towards Environmental Sustainability) to raise awareness and create a plan that would ensure Earth-friendlier practices in the future. Nine students from the class collaborated with then-President Thomas C. Galligan Jr. to assess the campus’ sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. By signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), now with about 600 institution signatories, the team helped set the college on its path toward carbon neutrality.

A new student group revisited the GreenROUTES project in 2008. They completed Colby-Sawyer’s first Greenhouse Gas Inventory and outlined best practices and policy recommendations for carbon footprint reduction. Both reports served as reference points for the school’s original 2010 Climate Action Plan.

A decade after it all began, students from the 2016-2017 Community-Based Research Project class conducted an analysis of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the town and the college relative to climate, food, and natural resources. Since Colby-Sawyer’s first foray into sustainability was sparked by students’ passion, it seemed fitting that their preliminary resilience assessment, feasibility analysis, and presentation to the Board of Trustees was one of many factors that prompted the college administration to seriously consider expanding its focus from emissions reductions to capacity building.

In 2017, in the company of those student representatives, President Susan D. Stuebner renewed the college’s dedication to sustainability by signing Second Nature’s Climate Commitment. And in 2019 the college published an addendum to its original climate action plan, the Blueprint for Resilience & Innovation: Laying the Foundation for Personal Wellbeing, Social Justice, Financial Stability, and Ecological Balance at Colby-Sawyer College. This document expands the focus from simple on-campus initiatives and climate change mitigation to more collaborative community strategies that promote regional adaptation to the climate crisis.

With more than 1,000 of you on campus every year, your individual choices and actions play a large role in the amount of energy and resources the college consumes. Whether you join Sustainability Core or bring your sustainability-promoting ideas to the Student Government Association (SGA), you can also be the driving force for major change. Your creativity and leadership are what is needed to achieve the ambitious goals in the Blueprint and design a vibrant future in which everyone can succeed and thrive.