151 Sustainability

151.1 Objectives

In his welcome to an Earth Day event on April 23, 2004, President Baker promulgated the University’s commitment to sustainability through teaching, learning and scholarship and in its campus planning, land and resource stewardship, facility development and maintenance, and routine operations:

As a polytechnic university, it is at the core of our mission to examine the ways in which knowledge may be applied to improve society, manage scarce resources and preserve the precious environmental values that support us physically as a species and uplift us spiritually. …

In the implementation of the Master Plan, we are striving to strike a balance among several values and principles that we believe are all essential elements of a comprehensive vision of sustainability – including academic excellence, social justice, economic growth and efficiency and environmental protection.

In order to achieve the goal of sustainability as an institution of higher education, Cal Poly has translated the equilibrium among environmental, economic and equity values defined broadly in the sustainability literature into an educational context by seeking to balance environmental responsibility with the academic program needs of the University and CSU system, using approaches that are practical and financially feasible.

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151.2 Policy Statement

Cal Poly’s commitment to sustainability is encompassed in the Talloires Declaration, a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities composed in 1990 at an international conference in Talloires, France. Cal Poly signed the Declaration in April 2004. The following annotations in italics express the University’s approach to implementing the statements in the Declaration.

  1. Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development

    Use every opportunity to raise public, government, industry, foundation, and university awareness by openly addressing the urgent need to move toward an environmentally sustainable future.

    Cal Poly’s programs provide our campus with special opportunities to raise broader awareness of environmental issues by sharing the applied work of students and faculty beyond the campus through publications, exhibits, and presentations for the local community and the professional, industrial and governmental partners with which we are engaged.

  2. Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability

    Encourage all universities to engage in education, research, policy formation, and information exchange on population, environment, and development to move toward global sustainability.

    Cal Poly will continue to build on the explicit recognition of sustainability issues in the campus Master Plan, which includes values associated with environmental responsibility in its vision statement and guiding principles. The campus will enhance the emerging culture of sustainability by facilitating communications among students, faculty and staff who share this interest and ensuring that campus communications (e.g., printed material, website) reflect the campus commitment. Cal Poly supports the applied research agendas of centers and institutes such as the Campus Sustainability Initiative, Renewable Energy Institute, Coastal Resources Institute, Environmental Biotechnology Institute, Irrigation Training and Research Center, and the Sustainable Agriculture program to promote faculty and student work on sustainability issues.

  3. Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship

    Establish programs to produce expertise in environmental management, sustainable economic development, population, and related fields to ensure that all university graduates are environmentally literate and have the awareness and understanding to be ecologically responsible citizens.

    Cal Poly will continue to develop academic programs that generate research and teaching in a wide range of fields related to sustainability. These range from specific courses to concentrations, minors and majors that bear on sustainable practices and concepts that can be clearly identified in the Cal Poly Catalog to increase student awareness of their availability. In addition, a catalog of courses and programs in sustainability has been established at the website located at As a polytechnic university, Cal Poly is especially well positioned to approach sustainability from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives in all colleges.

  4. Foster Environmental Literacy for All

    Create programs to develop the capability of university faculty to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

    The Academic Senate Standing Sustainability Committee will continue to provide examples and models of environmental literacy that can be integrated into the curriculum in a wide variety of courses.

  5. Practice Institutional Ecology

    Set an example of environmental responsibility by establishing institutional ecology policies and practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally sound operations.

    Sustainability Advisory Committee provides recommendations concerning sustainable practices. Cal Poly will continue to dedicate portions of its land holdings, as prescribed by the campus Master Plan, for biological preserves; botanical gardens, greenhouses and arboretum; demonstration projects; outdoor teaching areas; and other opportunities for ongoing research and pedagogical development in sustainability-related fields. In concert with CSU directives, Cal Poly will strive to meet or exceed systemwide sustainability goals, including those for energy conservation and solid waste diversions. Cal Poly has made significant progress, and will continue to pursue, a wide array of sustainable practices related to land stewardship, water conservation and water quality, energy conservation, renewable energy resources, non-automobile dependent transportation, maintenance and operations, and new building construction. These efforts will continue to be publicized through the Facilities website and other media to increase campus awareness of our successes. See

  6. Involve All Stakeholders

    Encourage involvement of government, foundations, and industry in supporting interdisciplinary research, education, policy formation and information exchange in environmentally sustainable development. Expand work with community and nongovernmental organizations to assist in finding solutions to environmental problems.

    Cal Poly’s educational philosophy of “learn by doing” and its role in preparing students to enter fields important to the future of the State, both promote strong links to other governmental agencies, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations beyond the university sphere. Cal Poly will continue to strengthen existing, and forge new relationships with off campus partners in those fields that are critical to spreading sustainable practices throughout the larger society. The President’s Cabinet and College advisory councils comprised of industry, professional and governmental leaders are instrumental links to policy making in California and the nation.

  7. Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches

    Convene university faculty and administrators with environmental practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to curricula, research initiatives, operations, and outreach activities that support an environmentally sustainable future.

    Cal Poly will continue to convene formal and informal dialogues among faculty, administrators and environmental practitioners (see also items 6 and 9). This campus’s polytechnic mission makes it especially well suited for the development and maintenance of interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability issues. From formal committees that recruit members across disciplines, to physical design of the campus to facilitate informal information exchanges, Cal Poly actively encourages faculty and students from different fields to collaborate on curricula, research, and outreach. A number of the centers and institutes emphasize and facilitate or foster interdisciplinary work.

  8. Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools

    Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools to help develop the capacity for interdisciplinary teaching about population, environment, and sustainable development.

    The Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESaME) focuses on building teaching capacity for K-12 instruction. Environmental literacy fits very naturally into science and mathematics education. CESaME is dedicated to helping teachers and future teachers to help all children and young people to become scientific literate, environmentally responsible citizens of the 21st Century.

    CESaME works collaboratively with local, state, and national Environmental Education programs, such as California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network, Project Learning Tree (PLT), and others.

  9. Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally

    Work with national and international organizations to promote a worldwide university effort toward a sustainable future.

    Cal Poly regularly convenes sustainability events that provide access to globally renowned experts and cutting edge ideas. Cal Poly also has a strong tradition of building relationships with other universities and institutes that are engaged in sustainability research and demonstration projects outside of this country. The University will continue to recognize that sustainability issues reach beyond the campus and local community and that creating a sustainable future must involve a worldwide perspective.

  10. Maintain the Movement

    Establish a Secretariat and a steering committee to continue this momentum, and to inform and support each other’s efforts in carrying out this declaration.

    Cal Poly has signed on to the Talloires Declaration and will continue to support and promote the spread of a sustainable philosophy to sister institutions worldwide.

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151.3 Policy Implementation

Cal Poly has appointed two committees to address issues related to sustainability and implementation of the Talloires Declaration. They include the university Sustainability Advisory Committee, which includes faculty, administrators and students appointed by the President and is advisory to the Vice President of Administration and Finance. This committee reviews measures dealing with natural resource utilization, land use and physical projects, expanding on its earlier charge to address energy use and recycling on campus. The Academic Senate established a Standing Sustainability Committee, including faculty, administrators and students (some of whom may be the same as on the Sustainability Advisory Committee). The charge to this committee includes informing and supporting other committees whose scope encompasses environmental responsibility and making recommendations regarding the provisions of the Talloires Declaration.

For current work by these committees and other campus efforts in support of sustainability, please see the following websites:

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References for CAP 150:

  1. Date approved by the President: April 26, 2007
  2. Office responsible for implementation: Facilities Planning and Capital Projects