Georgetown offers ample opportunity to study, reflect on and live by the Jesuit values that define our university. One of the pillars of our Jesuit heritage is learning to be not only bright men and women, but also men and women for others.

It is important that we begin to talk about sustainability in light of our strong Jesuit tradition, especially when considering our obligation to future generations. Can we truly claim that we are leaving the earth better than we found it for those who will come after us? We, the Georgetown community as a whole, can and should lead the way to sustainability. As a university dedicated to the service of others, we should take up our calling and be more environmentally oriented.

Though there are many behind-the-scenes efforts to stay green, we hope to start a university-wide conversation about sustainability. We’re off to a good start:  The administration recently held a Hoya Roundtable to highlight the university’s achievements in sustainability thus far. This event also afforded a very motivated group of students with the opportunity to share their study, entitled “Visions for a Sustainable Georgetown.” University President John J. DeGioia is also helping lead the way by signing Mayor Vincent Gray’s College and University Sustainability Pledge with other D.C. area schools.

However, in order to accomplish all of our goals, it will be necessary for all of us to fully engage in a campus-wide conversation about what sustainability means to us, and how we can all help achieve it. For example, centralizing our efforts through one administrative office would help streamline and standardize the process and the way sustainability is supported here at Georgetown. We hope to push forward in a big way on sustainability in the next year, but it will have to be a group effort.

Achieving a sustainable campus will also require that we all work together to hold ourselves to a higher standard of environmental thoughtfulness and ethic. The Georgetown University Student Association and the administration would love to see what ideas you have to help further the sustainability movement here at Georgetown based on your own experience. Some of the ideas that have been shared so far through our feedback program, IdeaScale, include better labeling of trash and recycling bins and creating a Georgetown version of Craigslist to reduce waste.

Implementing new ideas and changes usually necessitates an adjusted budget and increased manpower. These two things could be achieved through an administrative office of sustainability, which would also ensure that the conversation and education process about sustainability continue. As a community, we will need to consciously and continuously talk about sustainability in order to create real change and foster a sustainable environment here on our Hilltop. We will all need to think about how we can be men and women for others, for the environment and for future generations.


Clara Gustafson and Vail Kohnert-Yount are juniors in the School of Foreign Service and president and vice president of the Georgetown University Student Association, respectively.

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