'Generation E' report details student on-campus sustainability efforts

November 19, 2009

David Eagan, an outreach specialist for the Nelson Institute, is co-author of a new report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) detailing how college and university students across the country are helping their institutions lower their carbon footprints. The report, Generation E: Students Leading for a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future, was released earlier this week. "We scouted projects at more than 160 colleges and universities all across the country. In more than 20 years of supporting student environmental leaders, we've never seen this extraordinary degree of student engagement and creativity around sustainability at every level," said Julian Keniry, the NWF's senior director of campus and community leadership. "Our findings demolish the myth that students are apathetic or sitting on the sidelines. Their voices are rising up in ways we haven't heard since the civil rights or the peace movements of the '60s and '70s, but the irony is, we are finding that most campus educators and leaders at the state and federal levels aren't really listening." Published just weeks before major international climate negotiations kick off in Copenhagen, Denmark, Generation E is a timely exploration of how young people in college today are responding to the challenge of climate change and the need to shift to a sustainable, clean energy future. "'Generation E' stands for the three 'E's' of sustainability: ecology, sustainable economics, and social equity," said Keniry, "and it also stands for a tremendous amount of energy and excitement on college campuses today. The values of sustainability define and unite the current generation like no other issue of our time." The report highlights 165 campus examples in 46 states, covering 35 categories of creative student effort. Report topics range from renewable energy and conservation to dorm move-out programs; from campus food systems to wildlife habitat restoration.