Sustainability Science Works for Unity College

A lot has been made recently of Unity’s refined focus on Sustainability Science. People within and from outside our college community are energized by this framework for what we do, and we recognize its relevance and importance for a world in need of thoughtful sustainability leaders. As Unity’s sustainability coordinator, I’m asked frequently about my take on “sustainability science” . . . . read on.

  • Counting ants in the hemlock forest floor is wildlife biology; applying the data to develop policies that protect natural communities, support Maine businesses, and prepare communities for a very different forest, that’s sustainability science.
  • Growing organic carrots on campus might be sustainable agriculture; understanding the causes of hunger in our community and the capacity for local food to address them, that’s sustainability science.
  • Installing solar panels on our library is campus sustainability; understanding, promoting, and influencing the viability of renewable energy in New England is sustainability science.

Sustainability science at Unity College is an approach to learning. It demands the best thinking from every corner of the College to address real-world, environmental challenges. These environmental challenges are chock full of social, economic, and cultural issues that can’t be adequately explored by conventional approaches through single disciplines. Sustainability science isn’t confined to the classroom, but necessarily influence operations, planning, and governance in the organization.

Unity’s the perfect place for this kind of learning. We’ve got a strong history in natural resource management complemented by a full slate of liberal arts offerings in the sciences, arts, humanities, and more. We were environmental before it was cool, and we’ve always been pretty uniquely hands-on. We want to get out there and work through our education . . . with our hands, on the ground. Sustainability science demands this mix of detailed scientific research, real-world application, solutions focus, and knowledge work that Unity is tooled for.


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About Jesse