WSW: Higher, and Greener Education

Mar 25, 2014

Solar panels at Western Michigan University - file photo
Credit WMUK


The CEO of the group Second Nature will be the keynote speaker for a summit on sustainability this week at Western Michigan University. 

David Hales has also served as president of the College of the Atlantic, held posts in the Clinton and Carter administrations and was the director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from 1988 to 1991. Hales will be the keynote speaker for the Sustainability Leadership Summit. It will be held Thursday in WMU's Fetzer Center. 

Second Nature was launched in 1993. Hales became the CEO in 2012. He says the group has focused on college campuses to educate people about the issues of climate change and sustainability. Hales says colleges and universities are good laboratories for developing sustainable practices. He says Western Michigan University is a good example of a campus that has developed strong sustainability practices. 

David Hales
Credit Second Nature

Hales says when college campuses reduce their college footprint, it usually spreads to other organizations in the town, such as corporations and hospitals. He says the idea has also spread among institutions of higher education. Hales says that's in part because students want to attend a school that is environmentally responsible. He says it also tells students that they can learn about new technologies. 

The United Nations has issued a report warning of serious problems from climate change, including disrupting food supplies and slowing economic growth. Hales says no one institution can stop climate change by itself. But he says people can choose a better future. He acknowledges that there will be pain in making that change. Hales says some jobs will be eliminated and people's consumption will have to change. But he says the change will also make people more resilient. Hales says the existence of climate change can no longer be denied. He says that means that new questions have to be asked, and new practices implemented.