Universities Are More Green. Sort Of

Improvement in building and operations, but progress in the classroom lags behind, survey says.

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Managing to turn centuries of conventional wisdom on its head, academia has proved it is sometimes easier done than said, at least when it comes to environmentalism. A report by the National Wildlife Federation says that more universities have shown a greater commitment to sustainability in their operations but have made few gains at integrating the same lessons into their curricula.

University administrators have taken strides in providing more recycling programs, energy efficiency programs, and green landscapes. In 2001, 43 percent of schools had a written pledge to sustainability, while that number is now 65 percent. Similarly, more than 90 percent of those surveyed said they had hired or planned to hire an energy conservation manager, compared with 42 percent seven years ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

On the other hand, there are fewer schools that offer degrees in environmental and sustainability fields and fewer students had taken sustainability related courses this past year when compared with 2001. "It is extremely counterintuitive," said an NWF official. Now, some can only hope that greener operations will eventually trickle into the classroom, too.