The Sustainability Issue
The tension between getting the university to enact structural change and getting students to understand that their individual actions make a difference in the university’s overall sustainability defines environmental activism and policy on campus. Both goals get hindered by a lack of communication and transparency among the administration, student groups and the general student population. The path to a sustainable campus might be defined by gradual small steps, but student groups have pushed what good environmental practices look like.
Over the past three years, Georgetown University’s Designing the Future(s) Initiative has been sponsoring a new method for completing the core requirements: the Core Pathway. Currently, two different pathways exist, allowing students to take core-fulfilling courses focused on either climate change or technology, according to the program’s website.
The past 20 years have seen a rapid decline in the honey bee population, facilitated by industrial agriculture, climate change and damaging pesticides. While social media is abuzz with calls to “save the bees,” understanding the ecological role of bees and how the Georgetown University community specifically has taken action toward this environmental threat turns that trend into substantive action.
Before any product reaches the hands of a consumer, it passes through a network of actors catering to its production, distribution and, eventually, sale. Each step in this supply chain determines a company’s social and environmental footprint, or the effects a product has on its manufacturers and the environment.
Environmental concerns, like the onset of climate change and the impact of pollution, have inspired this new generation of artists to move beyond traditional materials and representations as a means of reconciling destructive human practices with cultural and aesthetic demands. Shining jewelry created from waste left on tropical beaches and eclectic furniture produced from repurposed materials are just some of the ways artists have attempted to transform their works to reflect notions of a sustainable world.
Whether as an art form or as a means of self-expression, students use fashion as a marker of identity and representation while speaking to their personal values and beliefs. Fashion has come to represent this same intersection, as some voice moral complaints to increasing trends of fast fashion, which focuses on overseas factory production to minimize costs. Sustainable fashion aims to fill this niche and offer guilt-free clothing that, while more expensive, is ethically sourced.