Supporting advancing the three E’s of sustainability—environmental protection, social equity, and economic vitality—in all aspects of the College of Social Sciences. We walk the talk!
Our Long History of Sustainability Leadership
The College of Social Sciences at SJSU is fortunate to house some of the longest-standing sustainability efforts in the country. CoSS’s Department of Political Science produced Gaylord Nelson, the US senator who founded Earth Day in 1970. In that same year, over four decades ago, the College founded Environmental Studies, one of a handful of such departments formed nationwide as part of a movement that would lead directly to today’s worldwide sustainability movement.
Within the College, many Departments have developed and cross-listed courses or degree requirements related to sustainability, including African-American Studies, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Economics, Geography, History, Environmental Studies, Political Science, Social Sciences, and Urban Planning. Faculty throughout the College—for example in Global Studies, Mexican-American Studies, Psychology, and Sociology—conduct research into social and environmental justice, globalization, and sustainability as it affects psychological health.
Through our courses, research, and just the way we operate, we provide students with the valuable knowledge, experience, and skills they need to become part of the growing “green economy.”
Here are some recent and long-standing sustainability features of our College:
- SJSU Sustainability Board: Members of the College of Social Science were central to establishing the SJSU Sustainability Board, a committee of the University’s Academic Senate. Today, this Board is a key player in the continuing process of “greening” all aspects of the campus, from curriculum to research to operations.
- SJSU Sustainability Director: From 2008–2012, Dr. Katherine Cushing (Environmental Studies) was the campus Sustainability Director in the SJSU President’s Office. This position no longer exists, but Dr. Cushing’s efforts help provide new momentum to the drive for a sustainable campus.
- Two Student Centers: Environmental Resource Center (ERC) and Center for Development of Recycling (CDR), both located in Environmental Studies, have decades of experience in sustainability. The ERC is an AS-funded, student-run center that undertakes sustainability projects on campus and in the community. The CDR has been funded by the County for over a decade and helps citizens recycle their materials responsibly.
- CommUniverCity: This well-respected center, a collaboration between the university, the City of San Jose, and San Jose communities, works to promote healthy living in the local community. Key sustainability projects include their community garden initiative and “Safe and Green Halloween.”
- SPRI: This center is a model for providing expertise in quantitative and qualitative research to the community and specializes in culturally competent, primary language interviewing. SPRI supports sustainability-related research such as the Spring 2009 SPRI Omnibus Survey March 30–April 10, 2009, which included sustainability-related questions.
- Sustainability-Related Courses: No other college offers more courses that help students meet the sustainability challenges we face today! The figure below shows that, year after year, our college leads in sustainability course offerings.
CoSS Sustainability Today!
Today, CoSS Faculty, Staff, and Students are actively promoting a greener college and campus! Here are just a few of our efforts:
- Comm/EnvS/Metr/Geol 168: This unique SJSU Studies course suite, covering areas R, S & V, focuses on global climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Course Materials Online = Less Copying: Whether to save paper or to save money, departments throughout the College are putting course materials online. For example, on their website, the Psychology Department states, “In an effort to reduce both our printing costs and ecological footprint, the Psychology Department now distributes all syllabi electronically in PDF format.”
- Online Courses = Less Student Traveling: Communication Studies was an early adopter, showing the benefits of online courses to both students and the environment.
- Responsible E-waste Recycling: the Dean’s office, in cooperation with FD&O, ensures that discarded computers and electronics are sent to needy schools for reuse or are recycled responsibly.
- Participation in the University Sustainability Board: Communication Studies, Urban & Regional Planning, and Environmental Studies faculty regularly sit on this committee to promote campus-wide efforts.
- Eco-measures in the Dean’s Office: Dean Bienenfeld constantly seeks ways to green operations in the Dean’s Office. Her latest measure: the use of reuseable cups and utensils for Dean’s activities.
- Sustainability Research: Faculty throughout the college undertake sustainability-related research. Just two examples: Research by Dr. Ruth Wilson, African-American Studies, into the social and cultural aspects of sustainable food systems and research by Jan English-Lueck that examines work practice and innovation in Clean Technology industries.
- Educational Events: The College regularly initiates and participates in sustainability-focused education events on campus, such as annual Food Day and Earth Day events, which are collaborations between the community and the ERC or other College entities.
- Providing Sustainability Interns and Employees: Students from throughout the College are hired by FD&O and Spartan Shops to assist with SJSU sustainability. Many others go on to environmentally-related careers in or region and beyond in the “green economy.”