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The Collegiate Green Wave and the Campus Climate Challenge
Sarah Rich, 7 Sep 06

cleancampus.jpg In the last year or two, a number of colleges and universities have begun to get greener; new dorms and classroom buildings, as well as redeveloped programs that focus on sustainability, now dot the U.S. The Worldwatch Institute's Eye on Earth recently featured a piece on what the New York Times dubbed "the greenest generation" -- 18- to 24-year-olds pursuing higher education. Worldwatch is also compiling a list of campus greening initiatives, for which they welcome additional suggestions.

What's really new on this front, however, is coming from no other than the green generation's cultural sculptor: MTV. As we mentioned recently, MTV's been running a "12-step program" called Break the Addiction, aimed at teaching people in simple terms how to live more sustainably. As part of this program, they've just launched a national Break the Addiction Challenge, in concert with the related Campus Climate Challenge, to activate youth towards creating solutions to combat global warming, beginning at school.

According to the press release:

In an MTV/CBS News poll released in June, for the first time ever, young people named the environment as the number one response to the question "Which is the most important problem your generation will have to deal with?" 81% of young people in the same poll say steps need to be taken right away to counter global warming.

Over the course of the year, students will develop solutions and policy change proposals with the goal of achieving 100% clean energy in their schools. MTV will award a select few with media attention, prize money, and [for some] an "eco-renovation" of their student lounge.

Whatever association used to accompany the term "MTV Generation," it's time to reconfigure that mental map. This is no couch-bound, Beavis & Butthead-watching population. There's a youth climate movement afoot; and if you need evidence, they have a blog.

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Good to hear that the US is progressing on campus greening. I've been involved in this on the other side of the Atlantic for years. I wrote a report for People and Planet (the largest student group by direct membership in the UK) - available at - back in 2003 that spawned a very successful campaign for UK universities to improve their environmental performance. The results of this campaign can be seen on the Going Green Table on the People and Planet site.

Posted by: Gareth Simkins on 8 Sep 06

Went to MIT on Thursday, September 7 for an event of Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (

Soltaire Townsend, of Futerra ( talked about her work analyzing how to talk about climate change. She designed the UK government's strategy and is working on China's. Interesting talk buteverybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, seemed to be focused on the problem rather than the solution.

There seems to be a real glitch in the system where everybody is invested in communicating the problem and nobody is specifically working on developing practical solutions.

I tried to raise the issue and got a real weird vibe, almost as if they were afraid of me.

Posted by: gmoke on 8 Sep 06



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