This year, SustainAbilities will make St. Olaf a leader in co-curricular opportunities for students as well. As the emphasis on Abilities suggests, it aims at developing skills that will be useful both in college and after college. It begins with basic skills, aimed at sustaining the ecosystem services that support human flourishing. Cultivating a conservation ethic and conservation practices in the routines of daily life, it aims to integrate ecological consciousness with ecological conscience-ness. Curbing our waste involves not just recycling and composting, not just efficient lights and appliances, but more broadly learning to sustain yourself economically by not wasting the resources you need. By learning what really matters and what doesn’t, it also helps us conserve our time and personal energy for more important questions than “paper or plastic?”
Students have a chance to show their Abilities in programs like Green Room Certification, and contests for the best green room and the best short video on SustainAbilities themes. And as is always the case at St. Olaf, students can suggest institutional changes as well. Students are responsible (at least in part) for the Peace Coffee available on campus, for the organic farm, for the Campus Ecology class, for the green roof on Regents Hall, and (perhaps—the decision is still pending) for the elimination of bottled water on campus. Who knows what new students might accomplish?