Mason Sustainability Council examining goals to set for the university

Fridays for the Future 2019
Mason students at a Fridays for the Future climate rally in October 2019. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

Promoting sustainability has long been part of George Mason University’s priorities.

Both the Office of Sustainability and Center for Climate Change Communication were established in 2007. The Institute for Sustainable Earth was launched in 2019.

In October 2019 students held a “Fridays for Future” rally in which students pushed for a culture of sustainability. Thanks to student activism, the Mason Sustainability Council was created to reexamine and reimagine its sustainability efforts.

The Mason Sustainability Council will be sharing its mission during an all faculty meeting on Wednesday, March 17. The council is working on sustainability goals for Mason in the years to come.

“We are working to have a sustainability strategy that is broadly inclusive across every facet of the university, from the way faculty designs its curriculum to the types of chemicals used in laboratories,” said Leah Nichols, executive director of Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth and a member of the council.

Gregory S. Farley, director of University Sustainability and a member of the council said that sustainability goals will be an opportunity for “the Mason nation to come together and create a sustainable institution.”

The 18-member Mason Sustainability Council includes administrators, faculty, staff and students. The council describes itself as an institution-wide initiative to integrate Mason’s research and academic strengths in sustainability with campus operations to mitigate Mason’s impact on the global climate. The initiative also aims to enable Mason’s campuses to become learning laboratories, and further establish Mason an as institutional leader in higher education sustainability.

Carol Dillon Kissal, senior vice president for administration and finance at Mason, said that the key to Mason’s leadership on sustainability is “making it central to what we do and who we are, both in our process and in our mission.”

Provost Mark Ginsberg said that the goals the Mason Sustainability Council create will “have a major impact on our community, leading the university in stewardship and teaching each of us how to be more environmental responsible.”

“We are living at a time when the choices we make today dramatically will impact life on earth,” said Ginsberg. “Unless we change our ways, future generations won’t have the benefits of clean air and water. I am confident that the Mason Sustainability Council will help us all.”