North Seattle College has been committed to sustainable and environmentally responsible practices for nearly two decades. In the last five years this work has expanded to include not only environmental, but also social, cultural, and economic sustainability.
North has a full-time sustainability coordinator and a sustainability committee with broad campus representation from student, staff, faculty and administrators. Sustainability is infused throughout the campus from the Long-Range Campus Plan to daily practices of recycling and energy conservation, and the community at North continues to pride itself for its sustainable practices, and for being a model for community colleges and higher education campuses nationwide.
The Sustainability Committee was formed in 2004 under the direction of President Ron Lafayette. This primarily volunteer committee coordinated Earth Day events each year and worked to implement policy changes on campus to reduce resource consumption and improve sustainability literacy.
During spring quarter 2009, Students for Sustainability worked with student leadership, the Student Fee Board, North's administration and the Sustainability Committee chair, the student Sustainability Club, and College faculty and staff to fund a sustainability coordinator. Thanks to student leadership, the progress of sustainability development and education has accelerated dramatically.
Christian Rusby was at first hired part-time as the sustainability coordinator to create opportunities for resume or portfolio-building sustainability projects on campus. This position is now full-time, with two work-study assistants and dozens of students each quarter working to improve the operational footprint of the College and increase the sustainability literacy of students and staff.
North has developed a model to utilize students to advance sustainability across campus. Based on coursework and personal interest, students design and implement real-world sustainability work in partnership with the faculty, operations staff and administrators. Not only does this partnership provide the College the needed evaluation and research to shape operations and curriculum to be responsive to today’s challenging economic conditions, but offers students unparalleled training to be competitive in the workforce or higher education.
The lens of sustainability provides a clear picture for preserving a world where future generations have the same opportunities as current generations. Everyone must work together to shape the jobs and research to accomplish this vision. North has emerged as a leader in training the workforce of the future. The College is leading by example to inspire students to think critically about all aspects of our world within the context of environmental literacy, social justice and economic systems that reflect these values.