Penn State University is addressing the threat of climate change in an update of its five-year strategic plan, following pressure from students, faculty, and staff. Last month they delivered an online petition to university administrators, which attracted 7,180 signatures from people around nation and the globe.
“It’s a really huge step for this university,” says Peter Buckland, a fellow at the school’s Sustainability Institute. He co-authored the petition along with history and religious studies professor, Jonathan Brockopp.
“I would hope it means we’re going to see a transition in operational priorities and research proprieties that move from coal, oil, and gas to wind, solar, and energy conservation,” says Buckland.
The strategic plan was approved Monday by the school’s Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning.
“A commitment to sustainability was always a foundational in the strategic plan,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones in a statement. ”Based in part on suggestions we received from a number of people in the broad plan review process, we used language in the final version that was both explicit about and strengthening that commitment.”
The document will guide the university’s priorities from 2016 through 2020. It states, “climate change is recognized worldwide as one of the most important issues of our time, and Penn State will be a leader in addressing and solving this challenge.”