Mission & Defining Sustainability

                                                                                       Sustainability graphic

Sustainability runs like a current through the University of New Hampshire, continually shaping our approach to education, research, and practice. Its power is amplified when we are free to collaborate as a learning community that reaches across the curriculum, colleges, cultural boundaries, diverse fields of practice, and beyond campus borders to ask and answer new and compelling questions together.

The Sustainability Institute’s mission is to be a catalyst, convener, and champion of sustainability ideas and actions across and beyond the University of New Hampshire. The institute fosters a culture of sustainability that permeates the civic, professional, and personal lives of members of the UNH community. In the process, the institute brings diverse people and ideas together to make the university a model sustainable learning community that reaches beyond campus to engage state, regional, national, and international partners to advance sustainable solutions.

What is sustainability?

At the University of New Hampshire, the concept of sustainability is firmly rooted in our 150-year history. As a land-, sea-, and space-grant university, we use a community-based approach to learning and a systems approach to solving problems. This is evident in our long-standing dedication to the meaningful transdisciplinary creation of knowledge and our shared investment in our accomplishments. 

The 1992 Earth Summit was an unprecedented global gathering of heads of state and representatives from more than 170 governments, including the United States. The summit reoriented international development into a more holistic framework that integrated the principles of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic vitality to meet the needs of present and future generations. This approach guided initial efforts of the Sustainability Institute.

Today, the institute views sustainability as a collective commitment to human dignity for all people and ecological integrity in all places. It is built upon an intergenerational, ethical obligation that holds social justice, collaboration, and inclusive prosperity to be essential to fulfill diverse human potential and preserve the health of the planet upon which we all depend. At the University of New Hampshire, this manifests as an ethic that compels us to respond to urgent, complex challenges with transdisciplinary approaches that involve diverse partners, on campus and beyond.