SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, reflecting Gonzaga’s dedication to environmental stewardship as part of its Jesuit identity. Gonzaga is among some 650 institutions of higher education nationwide to sign the commitment.
As a result, President McCulloh asked the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability – a Gonzaga committee made up of faculty, students and staff – to work collaboratively within the University community to craft a plan to monitor and reduce Gonzaga’s carbon footprint. The Committee aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, incorporate discussions of sustainability into the curricula, and advocate research and development of energy-efficient living.
“In signing this Climate Commitment, President McCulloh is demonstrating that being men and women for others isn’t just a slogan at Gonzaga; it is a concrete demonstration of how our commitment to social justice compels us to take significant steps to become more responsible environmental stewards,” said Brian G. Henning, associate professor of philosophy, and co-chair of the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability.
Henning and Monica Bartlett, assistant professor of psychology, launched the Advisory Council in 2008 to advance Gonzaga’s efforts to address its Jesuit mission that calls for responsible environmental stewardship. The Council will draft the Gonzaga University Comprehensive Stewardship & Sustainability Plan, which will include recommendations to optimally manage energy, transportation and waste while boosting conservation and sustainability efforts and awareness.
Bartlett explained what lies ahead for the Advisory Council:
“With President McCulloh’s decision to sign the Climate Commitment, the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability is now tasked with the important job of designing, in collaboration with relevant constituents on campus, a plan to monitor and reduce our carbon footprint,” Bartlett said. “As an institutional member of the Climate Commitment, the Gonzaga community will be held accountable for our work toward this goal.”
Most Rev. Bishop William S. Skylstad, a longtime advocate for responsible environmental stewardship in the region, lauds Gonzaga’s efforts.
“The Catholic community will play an increasingly important role in addressing climate change. It is one way of demonstrating true solidarity with our brothers and sisters on a finite yet abundant planet,” said Bishop Skylstad, the immediate past bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.
Gonzaga and the Society of Jesus have stepped up efforts in recent years to embrace sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship as a cornerstone of Jesuit identity. These efforts broaden the Jesuit vision by bringing critical environmental concerns into sharpened focus to facilitate strategic action steps.
In 2008, the Society of Jesus developed official positions regarding sustainability at its 35th General Congregation. Among the statements, the Congregation noted in Decree 2, “A Fire that Kindles other Fires,” the following statement (No. 20): “Globalization, technology, and environmental concerns have challenged our traditional boundaries and have enhanced our awareness that we bear a common responsibility for the welfare of the entire world and its development in a sustainable and living-giving way.” Download a copy of the official text.
Gonzaga also recently made major strides in composting waste foods.
To learn more about this national initiative, visit the ACUPCC website. For more information about Gonzaga’s environmental stewardship efforts visit its sustainability website or contact Brian Henning at (509) 313-5885 or Monica Bartlett at (509) 313-3918.