Pope Francis released his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home during the spring of 2015 calling people of the world together to enact “swift and unified global action” to counter environmental degradation. Sustainability, in its most basic definition, means the ability to continue on indefinitely. For humans, it typically means to live in a manner that is cognizant of the interconnectedness of economy, society and environment.
Sustainability is an urgent institutional focus for Niagara University. In 2012, NU signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which formalizes the university’s plan to eliminate the campus’ net emissions of greenhouse gases. The sustainability effort is also about education, and NU has integrates sustainability into its freshman seminar, “Niagara University Beginnings.” During this course, students are assigned to read and evaluate selections from this important papal document, Laudato Si’.
On Nov. 18, 2015 faculty and staff from several Niagara University departments joined the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president, to discuss sustainability from a number of perspectives. Nearly 100 students attended the forum in order to learn more about how global sustainability initiatives impact the Niagara campus and what steps the university is taking to address sustainability.
Niagara University, which offers a major in environmental studies, has been lauded numerous times for its dedication to sustainability. It is annually featured in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges and its B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification – Gold Rating from the United States Green Building Council.