What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a concept that promotes the ability to meet the needs of the present generation while protecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.

Institutional Sustainability

The term “sustainability,” when applied at the institutional level, such as at a college, is the development of a system of programs and processes that work to create and support a vibrant campus economy and high quality of life while respecting the need to sustain natural resources and protect the environment. Sustainable programs are those that result from an institution’s commitment to environmental, social and economic health.  This is called the “triple bottom line”.  The illustration above shows how these three spheres of sustainability interact with one another.

Ursinus College’s Office of Sustainability Purpose and Goals

The Office of Sustainability facilitates the integration of environmental stewardship at Ursinus College and within local communities, on a foundation of social equity and economic viability. To achieve that mission, the Office of Sustainability works with faculty, staff, administrators and community partners, but foremost, the Office of Sustainability provides opportunities for students to be thoughtful, responsible, creative leaders in their society.

The Office of Sustainability’s goal is to establish Ursinus College as leader in approaches to sustainability in the liberal arts that will integrate disciplines, academic endeavors, campus life, college operations, and community engagement to foster a culture of sustainability.  Customarily, the Office of Sustainability promotes lifelong learning, interdisciplinary risk taking, and a vibrant “living laboratory” campus for the immediate Ursinus community and the surrounding region.