Daniel S. McMann, facility planner, introduces the panelists for a Nov. 18 sustainability forum at Niagara University.

Sustainability, in its most basic definition, means the ability to continue on indefinitely. For humans, it typically means to live in a manner that is cognizant of the interconnectedness of economy, society and environment.

Many societies are grappling with sustainable development and the intersection of forces and constraints that have led to questions concerning issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, overconsumption, wealth distribution, economic growth, accountability, carrying capacity and biodiversity.

Pope Francis released his encyclical, Laudato Si’, this spring regarding his thoughts as to how the denizens of the world have to change or suffer dire consequences. The United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which begins Nov. 30, is a meeting for countries to describe the steps they will take to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

On Nov. 18, faculty and staff from several Niagara University departments joined the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president, to discuss sustainability from a number of perspectives. Nearly 100 students attended the forum in Bisgrove Hall to learn more about how global sustainability initiatives impact the Niagara campus and what steps the university is taking to address sustainability.

In addition to Father Maher, panelists included:

  • Dr. Bonnie Rose, Former Executive Vice President
  • Rev. Kevin Creagh, C.M., Vice President for Mission and Ministry
  • Dr. David Reilly, Professor of Political Science
  • Dr. Abigail Levin, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Mitchell Alegre, Instructor of Management and Leadership
  • Dr. Mark Gallo, Professor of Biology

Niagara, which offers a major in environmental studies, has been lauded numerous times for its dedication to sustainability. It is annually featured in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and its B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification – Gold Rating from the United States Green Building Council.

In 2012, NU signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which formalizes the university’s plan to eliminate the campus’ net emissions of greenhouse gases. Since one component of the effort is education, NU has incorporated a sustainability unit into its freshman seminar, Niagara University Beginnings. This unit is integrated with the “active reading” unit of the seminar during which students are assigned to read and evaluate selections from Laudato Si’.

To learn more about Niagara University’s sustainability initiatives, please visit www.niagara.edu/green.

Photos by Jacquie DellaNeve, a junior communication studies major.

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