UNITY, Maine — Unity College President Stephen Mulkey soon will join the ranks of luminaries such as Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize winning author and New York Times columnist; former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; and a variety of heads of state who will participate in one of the most heralded conferences in the developing world.
In January, Mulkey will serve as a presenter at the 13th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. The summit will address the global challenge of resource-efficient and low carbon development and will take place from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, at the Hotel Taj Palace in New Delhi, India. The event will explore the diverse dimensions of promoting resource-efficient development, and attempt to strengthen the global momentum for green growth as raised at the Rio+20 Conference.
Mulkey’s presentation will appear on Feb. 2, when he will serve on a panel considering sustainable development and a new knowledge economy. The panel will consider the reality that rapid developments in telecommunications, and various applications of electronics, as well as the development and use of new material and new sources of energy, require unprecedented levels of energy and innovation. Mulkey and his fellow panelists will consider how the world may create knowledge and innovation to ensure efficient use of resources and develop a pattern of sustainable development for the global society as a whole.
At the vanguard of leaders in higher education who are calling attention to the crisis of global climate change, Mulkey recently announced that Unity College, an environmental college in Maine with a focus on sustainability science, divested from investments in fossil fuels. It was the first college in the United States to take the unprecedented step, which took place upon a unanimous vote by its Board of Trustees.
Mulkey’s message has been pointedly focused on calling out those within higher education who have remained silent about the developing global disaster of climate change, uncritically siding with conventional wisdom, and political dictates while enjoying the largess of life on manicured college campuses. He demands more of scientists, educators, and higher education as a system than to sit idly by while those with a stake in the organized denial of climate change are allowed to profit with virtual impunity at an incalculable cost to humanity.
A widely published researcher, scientist, and educator with an international reputation, Mulkey considers the mitigation of global climate change to be a non-negotiable ethical imperative that directly relates to the sustainability of the planet. He considers it the responsibility of every institution of higher learning to divest from investments in fossil fuels, and take up the struggle to ensure that scientific research and realities shape public policy at every level.
In a widely distributed narrative about Unity’s reasons for divesting from investments in fossil fuels that was released in November 2012, Mulkey wrote that:
“Higher education is positioned to determine the future by training a generation of problem solvers. As educators, we have an obligation to do so. Unlike any time in the history of higher education, we must now produce leading-edge professionals who are able to integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines, and understand social, economic, and resource tradeoffs among possible solutions. Imagine being a college president and looking in the mirror twenty years from now. What would you see? Would you be looking at a professional who did his or her best to avert catastrophe? For me, the alternative is unacceptable.”
Mulkey has joined with others locked in the struggle for true solutions to climate change like author and educator Bill McKibben, founder of the climate change organization 350.org, to build a vibrant coalition to encourage action at the highest levels. Mulkey has participated in rallies resisting ill-advised actions such as the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and offers public presentations on climate change.
Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education which emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.