Presidential Executive Order Helps Validate Need for Environmental Sustainability Education, a Core Program at Antioch University New England
The President of the United States issued a comprehensive and detailed Executive Order on March 19 which, among many other aspects, requires formal environmental sustainability, climate preparedness, and resilience education and training for federal agency personnel. Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) offerings in these fields, along with its integral role in planning the Local Solutions: Northeast Climate Change Preparedness Conference in partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) make the University a key resource for both public and private sector workers committed to sustainability initiatives.
“In readiness to the Paris international climate change negotiations and in the absence of federal legislation, the President’s new comprehensive and detailed Executive Order is decisive leadership action,” said Abigail Abrash-Walton, director of AUNE’s Center for Academic Innovation and the co-director of the Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience. “ We can expect significant ripple effects and opportunities for sustainability professionals from this roadmap for federal sustainability. The plan raises the bar on greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy targets, responsible purchasing requirements, formal environmental sustainability and climate preparedness, and resilience education and training for federal agency personnel.”
Currently sustainability offerings at Antioch University New England include:
- MS in Environmental Studies with an Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability
- MS in Environmental Studies with a Sustainable Development and Climate Change
The Executive Order outlines that government agencies consider establishing and implementing an occupational series for sustainability professionals as well as other federal workers involved in sustainability-related positions. It also requires including environmental sustainability and climate preparedness and resilience into Federal leadership and educational programs through multiple methods including online learning and formal classroom settings – especially for those in senior leadership roles.
The President’s requirements come as countries work to develop an international climate change agreement through the United Nations (UN). The new agreement will be adopted at the Paris climate conference in December of this year, with implementation in 2020.
This alignment in mission between the White House and AUNE is not the first. In addition to AUNE’s partnership with the EPA for its climate conference and resulting webinar educational series, AUNE also launched a climate resilience project in March of 2015 to lead the testing effort for the new environmental data analysis “Climate Resilience Toolkit.” These issues, in addition to many sustainability initiatives AUNE is involved with both regionally and nationally, are topics that will be explored at the next Local Solutions conference in 2016.
AUNE plans to explore ways to work with the Federal Government to help implement new programs resulting from the Executive Order. Doing so is a key aspect of AUNE’s department of environmental studies’ vision, which is to “…train effective local, national, and international environmental leaders working to create a sustainable society that embodies respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace.”