Shippensburg University, in collaboration with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the South Mountain Partnership (SMP), and Michaux State Forest, is launching a campus/community task force as one of its first initiatives under the Campus Climate Commitment. The task force will engage stakeholders from around the region.
On April 22, 2020, University President Laurie A. Carter signed the commitment to develop a comprehensive Climate Action Plan by 2023 that will use regional planning efforts to integrate carbon neutrality planning with climate adaptation and capacity-building.
“We are responsible to leave the Earth in a better place for future generations, but we’re not on course to do that well right now. We need to train the next generation to be leaders [in climate resiliency]. How we treat our environment shows how we care for one another, which is all the more relevant during this pandemic,” said President Carter in a video message to the campus community.
The university’s Climate Action Plan will include selecting a target date for achieving carbon neutrality on campus, as well as means to reduce greenhouse gases, and the development of a resilience assessment that will identify indicators and areas of climate vulnerability in the community. There will be pieces related to the campus as well as the greater community.
“One of the first initiatives will be to launch a campus/community task force, working with DCNR and the South Mountain Partnership to convene folks from around the region to identify the pieces of community resiliency that are most important to them,” said Dr. Claire Jantz, who is co-chair of the Campus Climate Commitment effort with professor Dr. Russ Hedberg.
It is the community piece that drew the South Mountain Partnership to the university’s effort. “The South Mountain Partnership is involved to bring our network of more than 40 partners together to have a dialogue about climate change in the region and how we can work together to address it,” said Katie Hess, Director of the SMP. “In my experience, good planning is always rooted in meeting people where they are, so we will have broader conversations with the healthcare community, the agricultural community, the historic preservation community, and others to make this happen.”
In the coming year, Shippensburg University and its partners will convene webinars, discussion groups, and other virtual meetings to begin crafting the Campus Climate Plan and organizing the Campus/Community Task Force. Dr. Hedberg encourages any student, alumnus or community member to join them.
“Be hopeful. We created this problem, which means we can solve it. We can work together toward making a better future. Go make it happen!”, he added.
To view the virtual commitment signing event, learn more about the effort, and find out how you can get involved, please visit https://southmountainpartnership.org/the-region/south-mountain-feature-stories.