Dallas County Community College District Broadens Its Sustainable Path
As hubs of knowledge and innovation, colleges can play a crucial role in preparing future generations to lead in all aspects of sustainability. Environmental degree programs including renewable energy and construction management have for years been part of Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) sustainability programs throughout the seven colleges in the district; however, it is now headed in a new, broader direction.
“What we’re trying to do now is infuse sustainability throughout the curriculum, so whatever course or discipline students are in, we want to make sure that students learn about sustainability and how it relates to that certain discipline,” explains Georgeann Moss, executive administrator for sustainability outreach and initiatives at DCCCD.
Moss was appointed to the position November 2017, after working with DCCCD for 19 years in marketing and communications. In 2007, she co-founded the DCCCD sustainability team. Before that, She worked for Dallas Water Utilities, working closely with grassroots environmental organizations, and taught water conservation. “Sustainability is a personal passion of mine,” she says, “I’ve done it in a professional capacity, as well as a personal capacity.”
Moss’ position encompasses three main areas: operations, education and engagement, and partnerships. She and her team are working to create the Sustainability Scholar Program, which is a consistent, district-wide voluntary program students attend to give them additional recognition when they graduate. Although still in its infancy, the program will utilize input from sustainability directors at each college in the district, faculty groups and other stakeholders to implement the program and get it into the district’s Enterprise Resource Planning system so everything is uniform. Students that attend multiple colleges within the district can complete the course regardless of which college they attend.
Moss hears many concerns from young people about the health aspects of climate change, but more importantly, they want to know what they can do about it. The Sustainability Scholar Program allows DCCCD students to easily volunteer. They will help at the DCCCD exhibit, Sustainable U, part of the annual EarthX environmental expo from April 20 to 22. Sustainable U is aimed at teaching people positive, simple ways they can make a difference. DCCCD also partners with Dallas Water Utilities, Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the League of Women Voters—groups that share DCCCD’s sustainability mission.
“If you’re interested in sustainability, you need to vote,” Moss affirms. “If you want your legislators to be interested in sustainability, then you need to talk to them. Everything we do is nonpartisan and very respectful; we’re all about educating, sharing information and starting conversation.”
DCCCD students open dialogue about sustainability through the annual Sustainability Summit, this year taking place November 9 at Richland College, in northeast Dallas County. This year’s theme is Partnerships for the Goals; a reference to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations. The goals include ending poverty, zero hunger, quality education and clean water and sanitation. Moss says DCCCD uses SDG as their framework to teach their students, faculty and employees about sustainability.
“Teachers agree to pick one of those goals and tie it to their existing curriculum, and students are guaranteed to learn about a certain number of them,” Moss says. “We’re really excited about this, because many of the goals on the SDG list have been our goals since the district was established in 1965.”
Moss adds that sustainability is about people, planet and prosperity, so another major focus in the coming year is going to be social justice. “We’ve got lots of good programs coming up, and we’re licensing a new documentary called Walking While Black, Love is the Answer, and we’ll be showing that to our students and making it available to organizations in our service areas. We’ll also bring in more social justice speakers this fall,” Moss says.
DCCCD is also working with a consortium of higher education professionals in Texas to help speed their transition to renewable energy. Moss also invites people to like DCCCD’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/SustainableDCCCD. “It’s focused on positive, powerful sustainability solutions and how people can make a difference,” she says.
For more information, visit dcccd.edu/au/sustainability.