"The Sustainable Learning Community: One University's Journey to the Future"

UNH Sustainable Learning Community book


“This is not an academic exercise. The Sustainable Learning Community describes the ten-year transformation of a university with ideas and aesthetics: using organic farming techniques to train and feed students; constructing a 12.7 mile pipeline to bring landfill gas to a new co-generation plant; and fostering lively engagement in public policy. An outstanding accomplishment! A privilege to read. A beacon and blueprint for all.”—Paul R. Epstein, M.D., M. P. H., Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School

University communities have the potential to serve as models in the development and application of sustainability principles and practices, not only by what they teach and study, but also by how they operate facilities and engage with off-campus partners. With the oldest endowed campus-wide sustainability program in the country, established in 1997, the University of New Hampshire has become a leader in advancing a campus culture of sustainability. The UNH experience provides a unique window into the development of a new and integrated approach to teaching, learning, research, and operations. It is also a valuable guide for other institutions that aim to enhance the quality of campus life while reducing their environmental footprint. The book’s organization along four functional domains (curriculum, operations, research, and engagement) allows faculty, staff, students, and managers to focus on sections of particular relevance to their university roles. Each chapter develops standards of best practices and presents interesting case studies to humanize the larger effort.



“It has become clear that finding a way to meet the basic needs of all current and future humans on a finite and stressed planet requires transformative change in thinking, values, and action which must be led by higher education. The Sustainable Learning Community demonstrates how the University of New Hampshire is addressing this challenge in innovative and exciting ways. Highlighting 60 independent voices across its programs and academic disciplines, The Sustainable Learning Community provides an excellent framework for aligning the core functions of a university with sustainability principles, including integrating formal learning and campus operations to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and values they will need to be effective citizens and professionals in the twenty-first century.”—Anthony D. Cortese, President of Second Nature and Co-organizer of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment


“Campuses nationwide are endorsing sustainability initiatives. But there is much more to it than meets the eye. This comprehensive handbook provides detailed case studies for all aspects of campus sustainability projects. It is deep, integrative, and visionary. It is filled with great ideas for how to bring an entire campus together." —Mitchell Thomashow, Former President, Unity College


"A remarkable account of a campus-wide culture of sustainability at a state land grant institution, one that embraces aesthetics as well as science, food as well as fuel, and academics as well as community engagement. An amazing interdisciplinary, multidimensional project that acknowledges its historical roots and future responsibilities, the sustainable learning community at UNH is well worth studying. Highly recommended."—Choice



“In higher education we realize that our students will live out their personal and professional lives in circumstances enormously different from those that shaped our own studies and perceptions. One important response to this has been the effort to bring ‘sustainable development’ into the teaching, research, public service, and management of American universities. But the effort is recent; it gets diverted and confused by uncertainty about what kind of development is desirable and for whom. And, of course, it raises issues of intellectual sovereignty within the faculty. This book tells you why education for sustainability is important, and it offers an inspirationally diverse set of case studies that illustrate what can be done. Read here to learn how sustainability can be converted from an abstract theoretical idea into a large number of efforts that are changing teaching, research, public service, and management at a real university.”—Dennis Meadows, co-author of the 1972 report "The Limits to Growth" and Professor Emeritus of Systems Policy and President of the Laboratory for Interactive Learning.