Throughout history, colleges and universities have educated the new generations of American leaders and citizens who have built our prosperous nation. As centers of learning and research, colleges and universities innovate, inspire, and empower students, staff and faculty to acquire the knowledge, skills, and civic engagement experience required to change society. Colleges and universities have the power to lead society on climate change today. We can bring the brightest and most diverse minds together – on campuses and in communities – to forge paths to a thriving future and build the widespread support needed to ensure a healthy, safe and flourishing world for all.
Ready to Lead
Higher education leaders are well-positioned to inspire students, staff and society to strive toward new levels of progress and success on climate solutions. There are more than 4,000 accredited higher education institutions in the U.S., spanning every region and state. These institutions annually matriculate over 21 million students who are supported by a similarly significant number of faculty, administration and staff. Additionally, the higher education sector represents nearly three percent of the United States’ gross national product. These powerful numbers demonstrate the potential of higher education to move a critical mass of Americans toward climate solutions. And, because of its unique role in bridging the gaps across diverse stakeholders and sectors, higher education leads our nation in creating a more healthy and prosperous future for all Americans.
On the Path to a Positive Future
Powered by leaders who recognize the countless benefits of caring for the climate, higher education has become the most advanced sector in America on climate and sustainability practices.
Over one third of America’s students are attending institutions that have signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) - the largest commitment of its kind worldwide - making higher education the first sector with a goal of climate neutrality. Hundreds of America’s community colleges are developing the sustainability workforce of the future through the SEED Center. Innovative new organizations like AASHE and programs like the Billion Dollar Challenge are helping provide the resources higher education needs to lead. Inspired by these and other programs, institutions like Yale, College of Lake County, Harvard and Stanford are making major commitments to address climate and sustainability. In fact, it’s hard to find any major institution that is not leading on climate change.
Now is the time for higher education to leverage our leadership on climate change throughout our communities and the nation. Higher education can be the foundation of climate change solutions in society, helping America to chart a new course on climate that will minimize risks and maximize opportunities. This new program, Solution Generation and The Path to Positive commitment, combine institutional leadership with collective action (impact) on climate change to bring the full force of higher education where it’s needed most to address the challenge.