Dear Faculty and Staff:
In my letter to faculty and staff last fall, I said we would begin a college-wide dialogue on sustainability in the coming year. The dialogue would consider how the college can focus and more fully engage in sustainability across our research, education and extension and outreach missions. The intent of this dialogue is to better position the college in addressing critical economic, environmental and social/community issues facing agriculture.
Since then, a CALS Sustainability Task Force, led by Paul Lasley in sociology, has been meeting to plan ways to involve CALS faculty, staff and students in the dialogue. This college-wide conversation is both about sharing what we are doing currently and listening to your input on what we may consider doing differently in the future to enhance and infuse the ideas and goals of sustainability in the classroom, labs and in the communities and partnerships we daily engage with.
The Task Force’s initial efforts have focused on these key activities:
1. Establishing a CALS Sustainability Lecture Series to hear from experts on their experiences with sustainability at other campuses or with other organizations. The first speaker, Elena Irwin of Ohio State University, will be on campus April 4-5. The Task Force will be inviting more speakers for the series for the 2016-2017 academic year.
2. Compiling an inventory of existing CALS efforts in research, teaching and extension with links to sustainability as a kind of baseline to understand where the college stands currently and identity areas of mutual support and where additional resources might be invested.
3. Conducting an environmental scan to explore what other universities, agricultural colleges and institutions are doing to move sustainability forward in their programs, and where there may be new opportunities and approaches to consider pursuing.
4. Developing a sustainability website to highlight resources and topics on sustainability, and to bring greater visibility to longstanding or ongoing examples of the college’s work in sustainability.
The Task Force also will be examining how to increase the sustainability of CALS-managed campus facilities and research and demonstration farms.
I thank the members of the task force for the work they’ve put in already, and for their future plans.
And I thank you — the faculty and staff — in advance for your consideration and thoughtful participation in the activities that are to come. Your input and ideas are needed and welcome because, overall, the Task Force will seek to better understand how CALS can enhance our leadership in the national conversation on sustainable agriculture and we work together toward a more promising future for Iowa and the world.
Endowed Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station
138 Curtiss Hall
Ames, IA 50011