Can Universities Contribute to Sustainable Development?
Going to a conference away from home is an exercise in unsustainability. The trip
to and from the airport usually requires a car or taxi ride, single occupancy. The
flight contributes to global warming and is a microcosm of class structure: first,
business, and economy. The crowded highways traversed are multilane, having
devoured green space and fertile farmland. Often they are lined with factories
or the headquarters of corporations responsible for the manufacturing of the
“excessities” that symbolize our modern age and the billboards that urge us to
buy more. And these excessities are unequally distributed. The highways to and
from the airport are often bordered with urban blight. The occupants of these
neighborhoods suffer noise, air pollution, and other social ills not found in the
suburbs. This view of the landscape often goes unnoticed because of its familiarity
and because the traveler’s thoughts are elsewhere. This view of the world is not
what we want for our children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.