Unity, Maine – The man who focused Unity College on sustainability is now doing the same for higher education.
Dr. Mitchell Thomashow, who served as President of Unity College from 2006 to 2011, decided early in his presidency to focus on sustainability. The result was a series of high profile successes for Unity College, including the completion of Unity House, the first platinum LEED-certified college president’s residence in North America. A net zero home that produces as much or more energy than it consumes, a line of pre-fabricated designs based on Unity House is now being marketed nationally by Bensonwood Homes of New Hampshire.
Since stepping down as president, Thomashow has travelled the United States advising college presidents and higher education professionals on ways their campuses may become more sustainable. As a broad concept sustainability seeks to balance available resources with wise conservation practices and innovation, ensuring flourishing human systems, organizations and natural resources in perpetuity.
In February, Thomashow will see the release of his first book since leaving the Unity College Presidency. In The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (MIT Press) Thomashow draws heavily from his experiences as President of Unity College. He sees its audience in broad terms, noting that it is a book for anyone who seeks to advance sustainability on college and university campuses.
Available for order from Amazon, the book has drawn praise from luminaries within the environmental community.
“There are other books on greening our colleges and universities, but this latest is the best,” noted James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy and former dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. “His writing style is efficient but quietly elegant, so the book is actually a pleasure to read. What a huge difference it would make if all of America’s higher education campuses read this book and pursued the good advice in it!”
Kathleen Dean Moore, co-editor of Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, characterized the book as essential reading for those engaged in campus sustainability: “The ideas in The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus can transform universities, and universities can lead the cultural and structural transformations that are essential to a thriving future.”
In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking green innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.
Through the framework of sustainability science, Unity College provides a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Through experiential and collaborative learning, our graduates emerge as responsible citizens, environmental stewards, and visionary leaders.
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