Five minutes with co-chairs of President’s Sustainability Commission

Tonie Miyamoto and Carol Dollard
Tonie Miyamoto (left) and Carol Dollard

In today’s “Five Minutes with SOURCE,” Carol Dollard and Tonie Miyamoto, co-chairs of the President’s Sustainability Commission, discussed their roles in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan and its impact across Colorado State University.

How does the commitment to sustainability in Courageous Strategic Transformation build upon CSU’s strong land grant history of stewardship and conversation?

We often say that sustainability is in our DNA here at CSU. From our first campus farm in 1874, to our incredible sustainability portfolio today across academics, research, engagement, and operations, stewardship and conservation have been foundational to who we are as a land-grant institution.

Courageous Strategic Transformation is the first time we have used a University strategic plan to advance sustainability from such a holistic lens. CST sets ambitious goals that recognize the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social issues and makes a direct tie between a healthy planet and a thriving humanity. To center sustainability is in this way is exciting and innovative and also challenges us to elevate our commitment to sustainability in new ways.

Innovation is one of four strategic imperatives in Courageous Strategic Transformation. How do you see sustainability at CSU playing a role in innovation and helping identify climate solutions?

CSU is a leading research institution and our latest STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) Report identifies more than 1,000 research projects across the University that touch on sustainability. These cutting-edge research projects are helping identify climate solutions.

All eight of our colleges and universities offer at least one major or minor related to sustainability and the School of Global Environment Sustainability offers several interdisciplinary minors open to any major. CST calls for even deeper access and integration of sustainability across the curriculum that will lead the way for higher education.

Our Climate Action Plan commitments of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 continue to guide innovation as we use our campuses as testbeds. Our geothermal exchange system under the intramural fields is one of the largest in the Western U.S. and we are on track to double our solar energy arrays this fiscal year.

When we talk about Impact, another Strategic Imperative of Courageous Strategic Transformation, it is difficult to imagine any work we might do at CSU that has the potential to have a more profound, positive impact on our world than our sustainability work.  What kind of impact has this work already had here at CSU?

The level of engagement we have around sustainability at all levels here at CSU (across faculty, staff and students) is unprecedented.  In the Sustainability Climate survey conducted this fall, 98.5% of CSU students said sustainability is important or very important to them. Among faculty and staff, 95% said sustainability is important or very important to them.

Long-term, the ultimate goal is that every student who graduates from CSU learns about sustainability in the classroom and has an opportunity to apply that learning in a real-world application, whether that be a field experience, an internship, a volunteer or service project, or by participating in one of our living labs.

A central aspect of Courageous Strategic Transformation is working together to shape a brighter and more inclusive future. With all the challenges and crises presented by climate change today, what gives you hope for the future?

Working with students gives us hope. We get to work with so many students who are committed to the cause and passionate about addressing climate change and supporting biodiversity. Many of the initiatives at the University, like SkiCSU, composting, pollinator gardens and beehives, and food justice have started with a student idea or proposal. ASCSU has funded the food pantry and a solar array this year. Our Eco Leader peer educator independent projects continue to launch innovative new initiatives. Our students are motivated and determined to make a difference.

CST Mark RGB Green