posted November 15, 2010

Hope Signs International Sustainability Declaration

Hope College President Dr. James Bultman has signed the international Talloires Declaration as a reflection of the college's ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.

The declaration, which President Bultman signed on Friday, Nov. 12, is a 10-point plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities.  Composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France, it has been signed by more than 350 university presidents and chancellors in more than 40 countries.

"The signing of the Talloires Declaration is a serious commitment. It reflects both the significant progress Hope has made in sustainability and its ongoing commitment to continue making the campus (curriculum, building, grounds, food, etc.) a more sustainable place," said Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, who is a professor of religion and chairperson of the department, as well as chair of the college's Sustainability Advisory Committee, a group comprised of faculty, students and administrators that coordinates sustainability initiatives at Hope.

                        The 10 points of the declaration plan are:

                        1.  Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Environment;

                        2.  Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability;

                        3.  Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship;

                        4.  Foster Environmental Literacy for All;

                        5.  Practice Institutional Ecology;

                        6.  Involve All Stakeholders;

                        7.  Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches;

                        8.  Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools;

                        9.  Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally;

                        10.  Maintain the Movement.

                        Activities and practices at the college have already been addressing the 10 points in a variety of ways, ranging from the Critical Issues Symposium focusing on water and food in 2009 and 2010 respectively; to the creation of academic minors in both environmental science and environmental studies; to green purchasing policies, increased recycling and trayless dining; to membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Earlier this fall, Hope College moved up in the annual "College Sustainability Report Card" compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.  Hope has earned a B- in the report for 2011, a dramatic climb given that the college received a D- grade two years ago and a C+ for 2010.  The report card evaluates institutions in nine main categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement. The college's aggregate score included As in food and recycling and in investment priorities.  Hope is among the 55 percent of the 322 colleges and universities surveyed to earn a B grade.  Of the remainder, 16 percent earned As, 23 percent earned Cs and six percent earned Ds.

More about the college's sustainability efforts can be found at