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Is Duke really a green campus?

According to a recent report by the Sierra Club, Duke is one of the top 10 green campuses in the country! We should be proud of our University's commitment to green building, promoting local and organic food in its dining facilities and reducing our carbon emissions through purchase of renewable energy.

In my current Writing 20 class, my students have discussed whether Duke is truly green and their perspectives have surprised me. They tell stories of roommates believing global warming is hoax. They explain that the Eco-Olympics actually inspired some students to dump recyclables into other dorm's trash bins. They are surprised to find out that there are opportunities to get involved in environmental action on campus.

While Duke may be a green campus, we have a long way to go toward being a green community. As a member of this community, I'd like us to think more broadly about what it takes to be green. We need to go beyond greening our facilities and operations, beyond the Eco-Olympics and the Smart Home. It is now time to become engaged and environmentally literate. We should be sure that students leave Duke understanding the context for being green. We should be sure that they understand basic environmental processes, issues and solutions.

My Writing 20 students have argued that environmental studies should be a required part of the Duke undergraduate curriculum. This change would certainly demonstrate our University's commitment to being green. By ensuring that we are environmentally literate, Duke can extend its green hue way beyond the walls of our University and perhaps truly effect change.

Rebecca Vidra

Lecturing fellow

University Writing Program

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