UMC Colleges Listed in Sierra Club's 'Cool Schools'

Three colleges affiliated with the United Methodist Church were put on a bimonthly Sierra Club publication's list of the greenest universities in the United States.

Of 96 listed on Sierra Magazine's Sixth Annual "Cool Schools" list, Allegheny College placed 55th, Green Mountain College was 11th, and Duke University was 7th.

Jane Ellen Nickell, college chaplain at Allegheny, told The Christian Post that she was "proud" that the college was "recognized for its commitment to sustainability initiatives."

"Our motivation has never been simply financial, but also a desire to be good global citizens who do not use more than our share of earth's resources," said Nickell.

"In the best liberal arts tradition, and true to our college's Christian roots, we seek to educate our students as whole persons, encouraging their civic engagement, and sense of justice and compassion for others."

Having gotten on the list once before, Allegheny oversees several environmental programs, including a composting program, wind generated electricity, rain gardens, and porous parking lots.

"I also teach a course in Religion and Ecology, where Religious Studies and Environmental Studies students come together to explore how religion and environmental issues overlap," said Nickell.

Tavey McDaniel Capps, Environmental Sustainability director at Duke University's "Sustainable Duke" program, told The Christian Post that Duke was "excited" to be on the list once again.

"We are excited to see Duke's sustainability efforts recognized nationally. Many schools across the U.S. are embracing these types of initiatives and we are honored to be listed as one of the high achievers," said Capps.

According to Capps, unlike previous years the Sierra Club "changed the way they gathered the data this year" for their list of greenest colleges by working alongside The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

"STARS® was developed by AASHE, an acknowledged thought leader that advances sustainability by providing invaluable resources, with broad participation from diverse representatives of the higher education community," reads the About section of the STARS website.

"Any college or university located in the United States or Canada may register to participate in STARS. International institutions are welcome to participate in the STARS International Pilot."

The "Cool Schools" list was devised from a mixture of completed surveys and follow up inquiries with the schools. Categories for which the schools were scored and ranked included questions on energy, waste, food production, education/research, and investment in green technologies.

For the 2012 list, the University of California, Davis got the number one position and Montclair State University rounded off the list at number 96.

"The United States has more than 2,000 four-year colleges and universities, so there are, of course, schools that care about the environment that don't appear on Sierra's list," wrote Robert Cuttino of the Sierra Club.

"That said, the magazine's ranking aims to act as a guide for prospective students who seek a way to compare colleges based on their commitment to environmentalism. It also serves to spur competition, create aspirational standards, and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet."

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