Sustainable Food on Campus (part 1)

Addie's Cafe, Boston College

Food is one of the 7 critical issues bring discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit taking place this June in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. As the Rio+20 site states, “It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food,” and, in this two part blog, we will be looking at a range of ways that university campuses are doing just that throughout their operations.

Campuses are taking a closer look at the kinds of food that they offer in their dining facilities. This includes, but isn’t limited to, sourcing food locally, from within 100km, buying certified organic or fair trade, sustainable fish certification through the Marine Stewardship Council, adapting menus based on the availability of seasonal product and using free-range eggs.

A focus on local

Many are putting in place comprehensive policies around food sourcing. At Audencia Nantes School of Business, all coffee, teas and juices have been fair trade since 2005. The University of Calgary’s dining services purchase local and organic products as well as sustainably harvested seafood items and fair trade coffee and tea. Grenoble Ecole de Management has a number of initiatives that have been undertaken by staff and students to promote the integration of fair trade and organic products in the School’s vending machines and cafeterias.

Following external certifications

Several campuses have chosen not to do this alone but to also work with external organisations and groups that are working to make dining facilities more sustainable. The University of Gloucestershire is working towards the Soil Association Food for Life Partnership catering mark, an independent guarantee that what’s on the menu is freshly prepared, free from undesirable additives and better for animal welfare. The University of Winchester currently has this mark for its conference and hospitality menus. At the University of California, by 2020, 20 percent of the purchases made in the dining facilities and fast food franchises on all campuses will meet one or more of 16 sustainable food criteria set by the Real Food Challenge, a national activist network focused on steering American colleges and universities toward sustainability.

Minimising food waste

Campuses are also looking at how to minimise food waste. Many already provide composting facilities on campus as well as recycling in cafeterias and dining facilities. The University of California significantly reduced food waste by ditching dining trays, which they found led most diners to opt for less food per meal. At Richard Ivey School of Business, Styrofoam was eliminated from residence dining halls and replaced with bio-degradable and compostable take out containers. Discounts are also provided to customers who purchase hot beverages with a travel mug.

Student Led Initiatives

Many of these initiatives around food on campus are being driven by the students themselves in collaboration with staff and dining facilities. Students at Boston College started Real Food BC, an organisation that works to promote the purchasing of food from local, green, humane sources in order to support localised food production and reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance food shipment. Members, in collaboration with dining services, created Addie’s Loft, an organic eatery on campus that offers food from local and sustainable sources.

For more on the Rio+20 theme of Food, read the Issue Brief prepared by UN-DESA and visit the Rio+20 site.

Creating more sustainable campuses: Bikes on campus

Bikes are a common sight on business school campuses around the world and are very popular with both students and staff alike. In this edition of “creating more sustainable campuses,” we look at a variety of innovative ways that campuses and the cities that they are located in are becoming more bike friendly.

  • In 2011 the League of American Bicyclists awarded a range of campuses across the US Bike Friendly University Awards. University of California Davis, who was awarded gold, offers Summer Bicycle Storage and regular auctions on campus and on eBay to sell abandoned and unclaimed bicycles. Students also have access to courses on bike repair and maintenance on campus. Other winners included University of Wisconsin-Madison  University of Maryland, University of Colorado.
  • Stanford has over 12,000 bike racks on campus and maps showing bike paths on and off campus. Students also have access to a range of bike safety repair stands where they can make minor repairs and pump their tires for free as well as free rentals of folding bikes. All this is organized by Stanford’s campus bicycle coordinator.
  • The University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program’s Bike Program, which provides bike loans, a free shop, and education on campus, is entirely student funded and operated.
  • In a project designed to increase awareness about alternative modes of transportation, faculty and Staff at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France have access to electric bicycles 4 weeks each year (trial phase), which are reservable for a 24 hour period free of charge. The school also has over 100 covered car parking spaces that have been turned into bike parking for the growing number of bikes on campus.
  • A growing number of schools, including Winchester Business School, offer subsidies and/or interest free loans for staff interested in buying bicycles for their daily commute to campus.
  • Newcastle University in the UK has a self-service bike sharing system called WhipBikes. Faculty and students pay a one-time registration fee that enables them to use any of the 150 bikes scattered across campus. If they want to use a bike, they simply pick the one they want and text its number to WhipBikes, which replies with the lock code for that bike.
  • Cities around the world are putting in free public bike systems, which are being used extensively by students.  At John Molson School of Business, Concordia University students have access to Montreal’s extensive public bike system, which features over 5,000 bikes and 400 stations, many on/near campus. Similar systems can be found on campuses around the world, including in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and across Asia.
  • For students from Copenhagen Business School, Norwegian gas company Statoil has equipped five of its stations across the city with Cykelpleje centers dedicated to bicycle maintenance and repair. Students of Pamplin School of Business Administration, University of Portland travelling through Portland International Airport have a special bike repair section in the lower terminal, where they can take apart and reassemble their bikes, as well as several bike paths connecting the airport with the city.

Does your campus promote bike use in an innovative way? Please share your experiences and stories in the comments area below.

Online and connected: Bringing Sustainability courses online

More and more business schools are exploring the wide range of ways that they can use the Internet to not just promote their programmes, but to enhance them. This is the first of a series of blogs looking at how business schools are using the Internet to communicate and engage with not just students but the wider community regarding sustainability issues.

One of the ways is by providing programme online content for students. There are already a number of schools offering degree progammes online, such as Marlboro College in the USA with their MBA in Managing for Sustainability. Antioch University also in the USA has a new Sustainable MBA which held a virtual open house on their website last March to introduce prospective students to their programme.
A growing number of business schools are using the web to provide the public with a range of free online courses on topics relating to sustainability and responsible leadership. The Open University Business School in the UK provides a range of individual courses and programs focused on sustainable business via distance and online learning. Their OpenLearn website gives free access to course materials and Learning Space, including many free study units, each with a discussion forum. Sample lectures from many of their courses are also available from iTunes U, a database of thousands of free lectures from all around the world. MIT in the US has an Opencourseware platform which provides over 2000 courses online free of charge, including a range of courses from the business school, covering topics relating to responsible management.

FGV-EAESP, in collaboration with Walmart Brazil, has developed three free online courses about sustainability. The first course, “Sustainability in everyday life: guidelines for citizens” launched on February 1 in Portuguese and addresses the importance of responsible consumption. The course is offered through the OpenCourseWare Consortium, a collaboration of higher education institutions and associated organisations from around the world creating a broad and deep body of open educational content using a shared model.

The Escuela de organizacion industrial in Spain, also a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium has a programme called Salvia. Salvia is an institutional repository of books, case studies, projects, research etc. produced by the school on the topic of sustainability available to the public. EOI also has a wide range of blogs on the topics of commons, sustainability and responsible innovation and is active on a wide range of social media platforms.

Grenoble Ecole de Management in France created OPEN RIM – Responsible Innovation and Management, an online knowledge sharing and learning platform financed by the Rhône-Alpes region.  It is kept up to date by students and faculty who develop online content including courses and educational materials, student initiatives and projects. The web platform will be available to the general public during the 2010-2011 academic year with several online courses, including responsibility in the global economy, acting on sustainable development, and business ethics, among others.

The Innovation School at EUROMED in France is an online learning platform that acts as a knowledge database and provides a range of online course modules. Each student can use the platform to personalise his/her own learning path by choosing which areas he/she wants to learn about. Students can browse through this global tool, which is accessible from anywhere in the world, and check his/her own level of understanding and acquisition of these concepts, look for internships, access a specific module etc.

Is your university exploring using the Internet to provide online courses to students or to the wider community? Share your experiences in the comments area below.

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