Submitted on November 16, 2010; last updated on November 16, 2010
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The Austin College plan is based on reducing electricity and natural gas consumption 2% per year from 2010 through 2020, gradually shifting from 15% wind-generated electricity to 100% wind generated electricity, and offsetting remaining emissions.
At least 15 Austin College courses address climate change issues. These courses have a collective annual enrollment of some 500 students, more than one third of our student population. In addition to curricular offerings we create offer educational experiences through our service event, Greenserve, through dorm energy saving competitions, through an annual green pledge campaign, and through various other activities of Austin College Thinking Green, our campus sustainability initiative.
Current Austin College research projects related to climate change and carbon neutrality include research at the Austin College weather station on Earth surface energy balance, experimental prairie restoration at the Sneed Prairie, and study of novel photo-sensitive molecules for capturing solar energy. Austin College’s Richardson Endowment funds faculty research. Faculty wishing to expand research into climate neutrality and related issues are encouraged to apply for these funds.
Austin College’s community outreach efforts have four components: a seminar series primarily aimed at the Austin College campus community; an annual environmental service day, Greenserve; annual energy savings competitions in residence halls, and a planned series of interactive forums where a panel of college faculty attempt to answer audience members’ questions regarding climate issues.
The latter will be initiated during the 2010-11 school year, initially on campus and then in the surrounding community. We anticipate that such a forum would be of interest to a variety of local groups because skepticism regarding climate change is widespread in this area. We think that a “stump the chumps” format would be more engaging than more formal presentations and would therefore have more chance of achieving educational goals.
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