Macalester was recently awarded a campus sustainability grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. The grant will make a number of new activities on campus possible to increase sustainability awareness across campus.
The grant, which will provide $650,000 in funding through 2017, first came to Macalester through Sustainability Director Suzanne Hansen.
“I originally found out about it when the program [coordinator] was doing some searching around to talk to people.” Hansen said. “I happen to know her, so she came to talk to me about the state of campus sustainability in the region.”
A team of Macalester faculty and staff, including Hansen, then worked to write a grant proposal. According to Hansen, the grant is unique because it specifically funds campus sustainability efforts.
“It’s the only one I’ve ever seen that had campus sustainability actually written in the call, it’s unusual,” she said.
The programs will be managed by a group of faculty and one grant manager. The leaders will be two co-directors. Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship Christy Hanson will be a permanent co-director throughout the grant’s three-year span. Geography professor Dan Trudeau will be the other co-director when the grant takes effect next year, but this position will rotate each year to engage faculty from a variety of departments in the grant. Trudeau was not central to the grant-writing process and is still somewhat unsure what his position will entail.
“I accepted the invitation to be the co-director of the grant, what that means in practice I don’t really know,” he said. His biggest role will be to get the new projects off the ground in their first year. “I’ll work with the director and the project manager to get these projects designed and launched,” he said.
No one has yet been hired for the job of grant manager, who will oversee the day-to-day operations of the grant, but candidates have been interviewed.
According to Trudeau, the long-term goal of the grant plan is wide and might not be completely accomplished during the three-year lifespan.
“Many of the categories in the grant are focused on classroom education, however the goal of the grant is no student at Macalester without knowing something about sustainability, which is a good goal but an ambitious one,” he said.
The grant is aimed at expanding sustainability and sustainable thinking beyond Environmental Studies and the Sustainability Office.
Funding will possibly go towards engaging faculty in creating new courses with a focus on sustainability, incorporating the topic into a future International Roundtable, training faculty, staff and students, and establishing a sustainability fellowship.
This fellowship, if created, would be modeled after the Chuck Green Fellowship. The vision is that students would study sustainability solutions in the classroom and then partner with community organizations to help them determine and achieve sustainability goals.
“There will be funding to pay for students to make that their full-time job during the summer,” Trudeau said.
There is also money in the grant to hire additional student workers in the Sustainability Office. Hansen said that there was some funding included in the grant proposal for the Sustainability Office, but the focus of the grant is more broad.
“I don’t know that it will necessarily enhance any one department,” Trudeau said, “and quite frankly to have the kind of impact that’s envisioned in this grant, I’d like to see [many different departments] make connections.”
Trudeau also stressed the wide applicability of sustainability. He said that sustainability is a good interface for a liberal arts education because it facilitates the continuation of more equitable economies.
“We have crafted a concept of global citizenship being important to a Macalester education and at times there’s uncertainty about what that means,” Trudeau said. “I think if it means anything, it means being aware of and concerned with sustainability and it’s incarnation as environmental, economic and social issue.”