Woodrow Wilson Fellow lecturer to discuss sustainable living
February 18, 2010 By Sallie Bright
will be giving the Woodrow Wilson Fellow lecture on Feb. 24.
Cortese is the president of Second Nature, a group whose mission
is “to accelerate movement toward a sustainable future by serving
and supporting senior college and university leaders in making
healthy, just, and sustainable living the foundation of all learning
and practice in higher education.”
Anthony Cortese, this year's visiting Humana Scholar, believes the world’s societies must be redesigned so all people can live just and healthy lives without destroying the environment. That’s a tall order, but Cortese is counting on colleges like Centre to lead the way in accomplishing what may be the biggest challenge humans have ever faced.
When Cortese gives the Woodrow Wilson Fellow lecture on Feb. 24, he’ll describe how Second Nature, the group he heads, is working through higher education to create a healthy, just and sustainable world.
The convocation, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in Weisiger Theatre at the College’s Norton Center for the Arts.
Cortese has traveled to hundreds of colleges and universities to help with sustainability efforts. The idea behind Second Nature is that a successful movement toward a sustainable world must begin in higher education because, as explained on the Second Nature Web site: “Higher education shapes the mindsets of the world's leaders, and our collective mindsets shape the world.”
Cortese calls the task of changing societies so that humans will remain healthy and continue to thrive in the future “arguably the greatest intellectual, moral and social challenge human civilization has ever faced.”
Meeting this challenge takes recognition that all of society's issues—including health, security, the economy and the environment—are intertwined.
“We do not have environmental problems per se; we have negative environmental consequences of the way we have designed our business, social, economic and political systems,” says the Second Nature Web site. “The challenge of addressing these flaws in societal design is unprecedented, daunting and exciting. It is one that will require the best in all of us, especially in higher education.”
To that end, Second Nature is helping leaders of colleges and universities make healthy, just and sustainable living the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.
In 2007, Centre President John Roush was among the first to sign on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, one of Second Nature's initiatives. Colleges and university presidents who sign on to the ACUPCC agree to work toward climate neutrality by producing graduates who are committed to this task; they do so by setting sustainability goals for their colleges and by modeling “green” practices.
Centre’s Climate Commitment Advisory Board has set goals to reduce the College's greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years to reach climate neutrality by 2040, with the first reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 25 percent to be reached in the next 10 years.
Actions already taken to accomplish these goals include campus-wide recycling, purchasing green energy from the Mother Ann Lee Hydroelectric Plant and ensuring that all new construction is environmentally friendly. (The last two buildings constructed on campus are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified with a third now under construction.)
“Evidence of recent climate change is now convincing, and the impact of human activities to accelerate that change is now widely accepted. Centre College recognizes its responsibility to respond to this challenge,” says a statement in the College's Climate Action Plan.
For more information about Second Nature, click here.