By Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Second Nature
(This article appears in the August, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC corporate sponsorship program has evolved from its initial inception in 2007 into a partnership of 27 sponsors that supports the ACUPCC in several ways.  The program provides the opportunity to bring corporate expertise to support schools in implementing the ACUPCC. It provides funding that is critical to securing additional philanthropic support and member dues from signatory schools, and it sends a strong signal to signatory institutions that the private sector believes that pursuing climate neutrality and sustainability in education and operations is important for all of society, including business.

Based on a meeting of the ACUPCC Steering Committee and sponsors at the June 2011 Climate Leadership Summit, Second Nature developed the “Corporate Council” and invited sponsors at the diamond, platinum, and gold levels to participate. Working with the ACUPCC Steering Committee and Second Nature, the corporate sponsors worked together to develop a “Corporate Council Statement in Support of Education for Sustainability,” which is included in the ACUPCC Five Year report. The statement follows:

As corporate supporters of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, we congratulate signatories on their remarkable progress.  We believe it is important for colleges and universities to provide students, faculty, and staff with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability and to demonstrate ways of sustainable living for the rest of society.  Our organizations and all of society need graduates with a thorough understanding of the health, social, economic and environmental facets of sustainability for societal success.  We think it is important for students in all fields of study to have a comprehensive understanding of sustainability in order to be successful and competitive in the rapidly changing global economy. We encourage all colleges and universities to become active ACUPCC participants and to implement the Commitment as quickly and comprehensively as possible.  We believe that a productive partnership between the private sector and higher education is critical in helping to make this a reality and are proud to be part of this important effort.

The Corporate Council leadership team includes Kent Anson, Honeywell Building Solutions; Tom Grumbly, Lockheed Martin; Steve Hoiberg, Siemens; Jonathan Lanciani, Sustainable Water; and Maria Rakova, Trane.  With the leadership team, President John Anderson, Alfred State College, President Jean Goodnow, Delta College, and Second Nature worked to frame the agenda for the Corporate Council/Steering Committee Meeting at the 2012 Climate Leadership Summit at American University.  Attendees included 24 Steering Committee presidents, 10 corporate partners, Second Nature staff and Board of Directors.

After a welcome from the co-facilitators (President John Anderson, Alfred State College and Tom Grumbly, Lockheed Martin), we explored a mutually beneficial and practical agenda, framed within the Summit’s themes (Preparation, Innovation, Opportunity) and around the 5-year goals.  The objective was to agree upon 2-3 tangible, measurable and specific opportunities to focus on in the coming year that are only possible through this powerful partnership.

ACUPCC Co-Chair Tim White, Chancellor, University of California, Riverside, welcomed and expressed his deep thanks to the corporate partners. He commented that signatories are committed to enhance the dialogue and strengthen relations with sponsors and the ACUPCC would not have the same impact without corporate help and the “double contributions” of money and expertise.  He continued that to maintain our quality of life while living in the constraints of earth, we need paradigm shifts and this is accomplished in part by engaging deeply in partnerships.

The discussion was framed around topics including: Education for Sustainability and jobs, facilitating the implementation of Climate Action Plans, and proposed partnership projects.  Questions included:

  1. How can signatory institutions and corporate partners work together to ensure that students have the necessary skills and knowledge to secure high-quality green jobs and evaluate the effectiveness of the schools’ sustainability education offerings?
  2. What are signatories’ top three priorities for implementation of their Climate Action Plans and how can companies and signatories work together to overcome hurdles in initiating the plans on campus?
  3. What are the usefulness and benefits of proposed projects (e.g. corporate partners using college campuses as new product test sites; visioning sessions among the corporate partners and schools come up with solutions that would tangibly assist signatories in meeting the Commitment, etc.)?

Based on the in-depth discussion, two areas of collaboration emerged as the most important, tangible, measurable and specific opportunities that the Corporate Council should focus on in the coming year.

Development of sustainability curriculum and recommendations on implementation with corporate partners involvement

Development: Work with corporations and schools in the core curriculum areas to identify learning objectives for general freshman seminar on sustainability; determine if these are same core competencies that should be infused in existing courses (e.g. project management, life cycle accounting, systems thinking).

Implementation:  Determine ways that faculty can access people with corporate expertise on specific subjects and encourage corporate representatives to come into classroom.

Other outcomes may include the development of a syllabus for freshmen on sustainability with resources from companies or recommendations on elements to infuse into existing curriculum.

Facilitation of dialogue and interaction among corporate partners and signatories

Develop a methodology to facilitate more robust interactions among signatory schools and partners (e.g. train people on the campuses around lifecycle accounting/assessment with corporate representatives bringing their expertise to the classroom on financial, procurement, and facilities issues).

Next Steps

Second Nature is working with ACUPCC corporate partners and signatories to develop these initiatives and welcomes your support, ideas, and participation.

For more information, please contact Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Second Nature at aputman@secondnature.org or 703-528-8579.