Sustainability literacy and efficacy are critical skills for leadership and service in today's world. As an organization, Davidson College seeks to model sustainability leadership in its campus facilities, grounds, and operations. As an educational institution, Davidson is committed to leveraging the liberal arts tradition to advance understanding of systems impacts in a rapidly changing world.
The Davidson Sustainability Office pursues a cross-campus approach to evaluation, project management, communications, programming, and capacity building. The work can be characterized by Kate Raworth's Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries. This model conveys that the pursuit of a "safe and just space for humanity" must consider both 1) an ecologically-informed ceiling to our planet's ability to support life, and 2) a social foundation that ensures foundational components to quality of life for all mankind.
- Davidson was a charter signatory, in 2007, to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. This framework requires us to maintain a Climate Action Plan, to annually report on college-generated greenhouse gas emissions, and to seek carbon neutrality by 2050.
- In 2016, Davidson joined the "We Are Still In" network. This broad coalition was a grassroots response to the U.S. administration's statement of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, recommitting businesses, cities, states, and educational institutions to carbon goals regardless of federal action.
- The college leads in campus food system responsibility, with a year-round Farm at Davidson College and an on-site compost operation that redirects food waste to enrich campus grounds.
- To date, the college has pursued U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification in seven major campus renovations. This framework ensures the highest standard of environmental and social responsibility throughout the building design and construction process.
- The Sustainability Scholars summer internship program, a Transition to Impact initiative, equips students to launch careers pursuing community-scale sustainability solutions through the non-profit, corporate, and public sectors.
- The Sustainability Cooperative offers a year-long residential experience for students to pursue sustainability in the built environment and community-building in a historic home on Main Street.
The Environmental Studies program offers both a major and an interdisciplinary minor. The major provides overview courses, breadth and depth components, and a capstone project in the senior year. The interdisciplinary minor provides a broad exposure to a range of environmental issues. Students regularly collaborate with faculty on research projects that investigate and advance understanding of campus and community sustainability initiatives. Davidson's 200-acre Ecological Preserve supports unique research opportunities while also providing outdoor recreational opportunities in a forested setting adjacent to campus.
Student involvement inspires and informs sustainability initiatives, programs, and policies on campus. Student engagement is the strongest asset in positive change efforts at the college. Students build their capacity and impact through work study positions with the Sustainability Office and Farm at Davidson College, Davidson Outdoors activities, student organizations such as Environmental Action Coalition, Patterson Court Sustainability Council, and many other student-led efforts.