What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is generally defined as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Often misinterpreted as "environmental sustainability" it requires a much broader focus. While sustainability does involve using our natural resources wisely and protecting, enhancing, and mimicking the natural systems that support our planet, it also requires that we do these things in a way that both promotes economic prosperity and ensures that all members of society are treated with equality and respect. Overall, sustainability is about building healthy, resilient communities where everyone has access to the resources needed to achieve a high quality of life without exceeding the capacity of our natural ecosystems.
Sustainability involves making decisions to preserve values that promote:
- Environmental conservation
- Economic prosperity
- Social responsibility
What does this mean for KU?
We can use sustainability as a critical filter to evaluate campus operations such as energy usage, waste management and stream flows within the built and natural environment. As an institution of higher education, the University of Kansas can make a significant contribution to a sustainable future for our campus, our community, and beyond.
The University's pursuit of a sustainable future creates new opportunities for cross-curricular learning and research as well as responsible environmental, fiscal and social operations on campus. Through the development of research teams, student research projects, service learning courses, and a campus-wide network of sustainability ambassadors, the Center for Sustainability continues to work within the campus community to find collaborative solutions to sustainability challenges that face our campus and the global community.