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Northland College Updating Their Climate Action Plan

Northland College has been centering sustainability and the environment in its curriculum since 1971.

So, when Assistant Professor of Climate Science Meghan Salmon-Tumas gets questions about what the college is doing to address global climate change, she has a lot to share. This year, she is working with a multi-stakeholder team to compile answers and strategies into a new Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Northland’s last CAP was published in 2010 and includes an evaluation of the college’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2008 and opportunities for reducing these harmful emissions. The 2024 plan will reevaluate current emissions and opportunities for today, as well as highlighting the accomplishments and lessons learned since the previous plan.

Following the example of the team that produced the 2010 CAP, the 2024 CAP steering committee is involving students in every step of the process. Across four courses, students have learned about climate action and planning while completing significant elements of the process. Students are compiling a current inventory of the college’s GHG emissions; evaluating strategies for reducing Northland’s emissions; and orchestrating, facilitating, and analyzing the input from focus groups to involve the campus community.

Students are also involved as representatives on the steering committee, through work-study positions as research assistants, and through collaborations with the student government sustainability office. Meanwhile, Northland continues to implement energy improvements, like upgrading its geothermal heating and cooling systems and hosting energy forums for the community.

Climate change impacts people worldwide and influences markets and economies. Today’s college students should be prepared to incorporate climate literacy and climate preparedness skills into their career toolkit. By involving students in every aspect of the college’s climate action work, Northland is living up to its mission of preparing students to create a more sustainable and just future.