Definitions of “sustainability” are subject to interpretation, and the flexibility of the term has led to frequent appropriation by institutions that have sometimes undermined the original intentions of sustainability advocates. Because of this, critiques of sustainability are ubiquitous in numerous disciplines. Franklin University Switzerland recognizes the importance of maintaining a critical perspective toward the overuse and misappropriation of sustainability, but suggests that discursive battles often reduce the tangible impact of environmental actions. As a result, this definition of sustainability recognizes our unique socio-cultural, economic and geopolitical situation, but stresses that the environmental health of the planet should underscore our actions here at Franklin.

As members of the Franklin scholarly community, we recognize that our actions are culturally embedded and situated in our geopolitical situation as an American institution of higher learning in one of the more developed countries on Earth. We stress awareness of and engagement with environmental health from a critical perspective, recognizing that environmental matters are deeply connected to issues of culture, political economy, gender and power. We maintain that Franklin adopt policies and practices that recognize the importance of alternative cultural and gender perspectives within our own campus. We also stress the importance of incorporating sustainability-based curricula from a dynamic and interdisciplinary perspective in order to enhance students’ ability to holistically engage the major environmental issues of their generation.

Considering the above statements, we affirm that initiatives at Franklin should adhere to these basic goals:

  1. Sustainable initiatives should ultimately reduce human dependence on nonrenewable resources and reduce the degradation of ecosystem functions.
  2. Sustainable initiatives should encourage engagement and scholarly interest within the Franklin community and strive to invite collaboration with communities beyond Franklin.
  3. Sustainable initiatives must recognize the far-reaching implications of environmental action and scholarship. As such, CSI-Franklin stresses the importance of linking perspectives of social justice, cultural identity, institutional power and human communication to scholarly pursuits of sustainability.

As scholars and teachers, we have a responsibility to make Franklin University Switzerland a sustainable campus and community and to be aware that ours represents only one perspective in an endeavor that is worth pursuing. We must think of sustainability at Franklin as a dynamic process and not an end goal. Every initiative at Franklin strives to represent forward movement in the evolution of environmental progress and to contribute to the ecological and socio-cultural health of our global community.