Undergraduate Fellowship in Environmental Ethics
This Fellowship, a program of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, explores the ethical dimensions of sustainability.
By Samantha Juda, Christina Lesnick, Tim Vierengel, 2011.
With this Bronco-based calculator, we'd like each member of the SCU community to see the connection between their everyday actions, the amount of fossil-fuel-related carbon dioxide those actions produce, and the effect on the world of such an amount of emissions. But don't worry: We're not in the catastrophe camp of environmentalists. We're not interested in suggesting that you have to buy sky-is-falling scenarios about what will happen if you don't change this or that aspect of your behavior. What we are interested in is inviting you to consider the connections: My actions produce these emissions with this effect on our world. And then we're interested in posing the question: What do you think you should do about it?
By Liza Dadiomov, Spring 2010
Abstract As Santa Clara University (SCU) works to become a leader in sustainability, it is vital to understand the culture of sustainability in the community. A previous study found undergraduate students held a narrow view of sustainability and the university took a misguided approach to promoting sustainability. Do the faculty, staff and graduate students at SCU show a broader understanding of sustainability than undergraduates? What leads to sustainable behaviors? A survey of attitudes, comprehension and behaviors regarding sustainability was distributed to the faculty, staff and graduate students, a total of 511 participants. Respondents defined sustainability narrowly, lacked awareness of the behaviors most effective for achieving sustainability, were mostly influenced by internal motivations, and negatively responded to the word “environmentalism.” Though community members value sustainability, there is no widespread culture of sustainability yet, rather it remains a sub-culture. To establish this culture the university should promote all three dimensions of sustainability, use the word “sustainability” instead of “environmentalism”, avoid reward and punishment methods, expose the impacts of eating habits on sustainability and encourage all members of the community to act.
By Sophie Asmar, Spring 2009
As the effects of humans on the world become more apparent, the concept of sustainability is becoming more prevalent as well. People are trying to understand the best ways to make our world (the environment, people, diverse cultures, etc.) last, while still maintaining the same kind of lifestyle. Santa Clara University has recently created an official Office of Sustainability to support the university and its students in carrying out sustainable practices. The culture of sustainability at Santa Clara embodies the values and goals of the university and its community members. This study hopes to better understand undergraduate students’ values, how they view sustainability and already carry out sustainable behaviors, so that programs to educate and promote sustainability can be more effective in the future. Results from a quantitative survey suggest that students have difficulty properly defining sustainability and act in accordance to their perceptions of behaviors’ environmental impact. These findings support the theories of Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism as crucial aspects of undergraduate sustainability education and culture.
By Meghan Mooney, Spring 2008
ABSTRACT: Though Santa Clara University has made a strong commitment to sustainability—one that impacts University spending, building, and planning—little information exists on to what extent and in what forms sustainability has become part of the student culture. This anthropological study on the culture of sustainability examines how Santa Clara University students understand, define, and express environmental values as individuals and members of the campus community. Though students almost universally subscribe to a utilitarian ethic that privileges people over the environment, their ethical codes do not show a lack of concern for the environment, merely that they assign sustainability a practical position somewhere amongst their other ethical commitments. While SCU students can easily verbalize why sustainability is important, they are unable to define what sustainability means or how to become more sustainable. Similarly, they have little idea what a person who chooses to live sustainably but is not an "environmentalist" would look like or be called. Most importantly, environmental discourse at Santa Clara University suffers from divisiveness resulting from the mistaken conclusion that people who do not take action simply do not care. Thus, a misguided focus on raising awareness about environmental problems misses the opportunity for both capacity building and more complex discussions about sustainability in which debate and criticism is welcome—the very sort of discussions non-environmental students want.
By James Bickford, Spring 2007
SUMMARY: SCU 2006-07 Environmental Ethics Fellow James Bickford describes the challenges facing the University's Solar Decathlon Team as they built a sustainable solar house. Bickford defines sustainability as efficient use of materials, production of a minimum of waste, contribution to the health of its surroundings and inhabitants, maximization of livability, and a strong focus on accomplishing these tasks within an economically smart framework.
By Meredith Swineheart, Spring 2006
A case study on the construction of Santa Clara University's sustainable building, Kennedy Commons.
Read more resources from the Environmental Ethics program of Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.