In the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, more than a thousand leaders from 125 cities, 9 states, 902 businesses and investors, and 183 colleges and universities, including Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, have signed an open letter to the international community, supporting the Paris Agreement. Participating cities and states represent 120 million Americans and contribute $6.2 trillion to the U.S. economy, and include cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, as well as smaller cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Dubuque, Iowa. The undersigned businesses and investors account for a total annual revenue of at least $1.4 trillion and include over 20 Fortune 500 companies, such as Apple, eBay, Gap Inc., Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Nike, in addition to hundreds of small businesses, who have also signed the statement. Second Nature, a non-profit organization committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education calls it the broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action with the intent to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine President James Dlugos quickly signed the open letter to the international community when the opportunity arose. “Because we have been pursuing institutional sustainability for years, we were invited by Second Nature to sign their “We Are Still In” open letter that pledges continuing support for climate action to meet the Paris Agreement. I readily signed it. For Saint Joseph’s College, signing this is an extension of our longstanding and mission-driven commitment to sustainability.” As Maine’s only Catholic liberal arts college, the Saint Joseph’s College educational mission is rooted in the Sisters of Mercy’s five “Critical Concerns.” Among these concerns is Care for the Earth, specifically, the moral imperative to practice responsible stewardship of natural resources. Previously, President James Dlugos, Ph.D. signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to integrate care for the planet into educational curricula, public programming, institutional infrastructures, policies, and our political and social involvements. This pledges the College to achieve carbon neutrality by 2036 and formalizes its commitment to sustainability articulated in the strategic plan “Sustaining the Promise.”
Dlugos, who also serves as President of the Maine Independent Colleges Association said, “Five Maine colleges have signed: Bates College, Bowdoin College, College of the Atlantic, Saint Joseph’s College, and Unity College.”
By signing, participants declare their understanding that the Paris Agreement is a blueprint for job creation, stability and global prosperity and that accelerating the United States’ clean energy transition is an opportunity – not a liability – to create jobs, spur innovation, promote trade and ensure American competitiveness. By declaring that “we are still in,” the signatories are putting the best interests of their constituents, customers, students and communities first while assuring the rest of the world that American leadership on climate change extends well beyond the federal government.
National Public Radio reported that the open letter was coordinated by a group of organizations including Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies; Bloomberg has pledged to fill a funding gap created by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, offering up to $15 million to support the U.N. agency that helps countries implement the agreement.
To view the open letter to the international commentary and read the list of signatories, visit: http://wearestillin.com/.
Saint Joseph’s College Students, Faculty, and Alumni Represented Maine at People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. in April [L to R]: Christina Young ’20, Caleb Gravel ’19, Maria Liberti ’17, Aliyah Gregory ’17, Erin Wright-Little ’16, Nhu Vo ’17, Alana Dougherty ’17, Kyle O’Keefe ’20, Courtney Couture ’17, Pamela Gully, Jeanne Gulnick, and Nancy Kristiansen.
More About Sustainability and the Saint Joseph’s College Curriculum
The Saint Joseph’s College curriculum—explicitly including environmental science and a sustainability minor—spans 82 undergraduate and 9 graduate courses teaching aspects of sustainability. Each of the College’s 1,000 students must enroll in the core course Environmental Studies 300: Ecology and the Environmental Challenge. This course teaches basic ecological principles, the major environmental challenges facing the planet, and potential solutions to these challenges. All graduates develop scientific literacy and critical perspectives on environmental policy. Using the College’s Pearson’s Town Farm as a teaching laboratory, ES300 students are required to learn about the adverse effects of the large-scale, industrial form of agriculture that dominates modern food production and, through hours of hands-on farm experience, learn what it means to produce food with less fossil fuel dependence.
The College uses its location on Sebago Lake as a unique living laboratory for studies of air, water, and climate, energy, and health/wellbeing. Environmental Science 107: Research Science on Sebago is an introductory level class that teaches underclassmen how to conduct environmental chemistry research, specifically, a carbon cycling project in the lake watershed. Students collect and analyze samples, learn to operate a carbon analyzer, and study the carbon cycle, a building block for understanding climate change.
To explore more about Saint Joseph’s College’s commitment to sustainability, see www.sjcme.edu/sustainability.