Insuring the Future Through Sustainable Practices Today

Penn State News – Campus Life In spring 2017, Penn State hired its first chief sustainability officer, Paul Shrivastava, with the aim of integrating sustainability into all areas of the University, including research, teaching, student life, community engagement, and operations. He previously served as executive director of Future Earth, a global research network. Shrivastava recently discussed the University’s sustainability strategy and some of its key initiatives.Why did Penn State hire a chief sustainability officer?
From our origins as a land-grant university with special strength in agriculture and engineering, sustainability has deep roots at Penn State. In more recent years, Penn State has made a public commitment to sustainability through the themes of our strategic plan, which include stewarding our natural resources and health and well-being of our communities. There was also a conversation going on about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and our global presence. These conversations came together and created the impetus for hiring Penn State’s first chief sustainability officer. We are the first university in the Big Ten to establish such a position.
How does sustainability support the University’s mission?
It’s part of our land-grant mission to support the Commonwealth in being more responsible in our use of resources like food, energy and water, and in reducing waste. Thanks to our presence in 24 communities and numerous Extension offices, we can help make the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania more sustainable. We also have research and teaching presences in Africa, China, South America, and other parts of the world. So we can also be contributing to global sustainability. We are uniquely positioned to implement these goals because of our interdisciplinary nature—we have colleges that cover everything from business and economics to climate and environmental sciences and the humanities.
What is Penn State’s strategy for integrating sustainability across the University?
We think of sustainability as a spice that needs to …

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