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President Coleman Discusses Sustainability at Clinton Global Initiative Event

Feb 05, 2009

Bennington College President Elizabeth Coleman was a featured panelist at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) meeting, a three-day event that challenged college students and officials to tackle pressing global problems.

On Saturday, February 14, at the University of Texas at Austin, President Coleman led a workshop on "Energy and Climate Change: Seeding Climate Solutions on Campus."

At the inaugural CGI-U event last year, President Coleman announced that Bennington would make a multi-year commitment to address six global challenges—among them, the environment and sustainability—as part of a major new curricular initiative. Specifically, Bennington commits to: 1) embed in its curriculum the depth of intellectual demands, the diversity of perspectives, and the strategic intelligence necessary to address these critical challenges; 2) engage a faculty that includes activists, politicians, journalists, and public intellectuals in addition to scientists, artists and scholars; and 3) build a major new green facility to enable and enhance the program's objectives—the work of the center will serve as a catalyst for making concerns for the public good an informing principle of curriculum.

President Coleman discusses the role of the new center on Vermont Public Radio. 

Beyond the classroom, President Coleman has put  the ideals driving the new curriculum into practice, remaining committed to green technologies and sustainable design. The new Student Center, for example, incorporates recycled materials, passive cooling methods, and furnishings made by local artisans. The building earned a seal of approval from Efficiency Vermont, a non-profit agency addressing energy efficiency statewide.

More recently, President Coleman oversaw Bennington's conversion to a biomass heating system, which burns woodchips—a cleaner, more renewable energy source—instead of fossil fuel. Now in its first heating season, the biomass plant services 85 percent of the Bennington campus, saving the college up to $500,000 a year while radically reducing carbon emissions.

Read more about environmental initiatives at Bennington.