Of the seventeen colleges and universities that submitted applications for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)/Solution Generation Leadership in Climate Change Awareness Award, the selection committee has selected Colorado State University – Pueblo (CSU Pueblo) as the winner of the $10,000 prize.
While all the colleges and universities that applied are inspirational examples of green leadership, and all submitted innovative proposals about how they would use the award money to further their sustainability efforts on-campus and in the community, CSU Pueblo stood out as the winner for its emphasis on cultivating student leadership to outreach to the fellow students and to the surrounding community.
CSU Pueblo plans to fund student “sustainability ambassador” positions with the award money. These ambassadors will drive awareness for such green campaigns as the “Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle” campaign. Student sustainability ambassadors will outreach and educate other students and faculty in classrooms and at campus events.
CSU Pueblo also plans to fund undergraduate climate and sustainability research. Specifically, students will research climate solutions tailored for the Pueblo community. Students will focus on such local issues as increasing energy efficiency for low-income housing, indoor environmental air quality for Pueblo residents, and studying implementation of hybrid technologies to replace fossil fuel consumption. These outreach plans are significant because climate change solutions tend to overlook the poor (almost twenty percent of Pueblo residents live below the poverty line). Additionally, a specialized, local focus on climate change has been shown to be the most effective way to communicate about this issue and to drive real solutions. Through their research on local issues and local solutions, CSU Pueblo undergraduates will not only increase sustainability in their community, but also take important steps in educating their community about the importance of going green.
In addition to these proposed sustainability measures, CSU Pueblo has shown consistent dedication to and leadership on climate change issues. The university offers a sustainability minor, as well as over twenty-five courses that integrate climate change and sustainability into the coursework. CSU Pueblo also offers events and activities throughout the year to engage the campus and community on sustainability issues; from community clean-ups to educational activities to show students how they can reduce their own carbon footprints, CSU Pueblo is actively involved in spreading climate change awareness. Additionally, the university has eleven campus-wide policies to direct action towards climate change solutions, ranging from a “green cleaning policy” that dictates all cleaning products used are environmentally friendly, to a priority parking for low emissions and hybrid vehicles.
Through these measures, and through the student sustainability ambassadors and community-focused climate change research that will result from winning the HACU/Solution Gen Leadership in Climate Change Awareness Award, CSU Pueblo exemplifies the best ways that higher education can work collaboratively to lead on climate solutions. Congratulations to CSU Pueblo on winning the HACU/Solution Gen Leadership in Climate Change Awareness Award award, and to all the other colleges and universities on their outstanding efforts in leading the way on climate change solutions.