Franklin students participated in a climate march in Bern.

Franklin’s culture of environmental awareness grows stronger every year as ideals and commitment evolve into action. In spring 2019, a group of nine students in the “Environmental Studies Capstone” class created The Road to Carbon Neutrality: Franklin University Switzerland’s Climate Action Plan, including three strategies for the school to significantly reduce its climate impact.

Students learn about nurturing and patience from working in Franklin’s sustainable garden.

Supervised by Brack Hale, professor of biology and environmental science, the students gathered and analyzed data on the institution’s green-house gas emissions. “I was surprised to learn that the largest contributor by far to Franklin’s carbon footprint—students commuting to Lugano from their home countries—is usually disregarded by other universities in their carbon inventories and climate action plans,” said Ava Selvig ’20. The group then identified specific mitigation strategies for Franklin to reduce CO2 emissions and set targets to achieve their ideal goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Solar panels line the rooftop of the new residence buildings.

“Creating such a comprehensive report requires a tremendous amount of planning,” said Gabriella Muñoz ’20. “Once we got started, it required a lot of mental endurance to work on such a long project that had many unforeseen challenges.” She recalled how the group made the auditorium their base of operations toward the end for collaborating, writing, and editing. “I don’t know that my group members would say the same, but I loved the high-stakes, high-pressure environment of that final week.”

Selvig remembered, “By this point in the semester, everyone was extremely invested in their work and the project as a whole, so to be able to finally label it as ‘done’ was a challenge.” Cristina Biddlecome ’19 said, “I was proud of completing something that seemed impossible with such a diverse team. Students with varying backgrounds and opinions about sustainability were able to pool their strengths and produce a document of considerable magnitude.”

To learn about our Climate Action Plan for sustainable living, read the full article on page 46 of the Spring 2020 Franklin Gazette.