The University and Environmental Preservation

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The University and Environmental Preservation

Caring for the environment has traditionally been thought of as a responsibility of environmental organizations such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. Universities have never been thought of as the leaders of environmental preservation—until now. Since universities are looked upon with high regard, many people including President Baker of Cal Poly, feel that it is the responsibility of the university to set an example of how the environment is respected and conserved. In his Earth Day speech in 2004, President Baker claims that Cal Poly finds it suitable to be a signatory of the Talloires Declaration. This is a 10-point plan signed by over 300 universities worldwide setting out the key actions they will take for a more sustainable future. By signing the Talloires Declaration, he claims it is the mission of the polytechnic university to find ways in which society can be improved, scarce resources can be managed, and environmental values can be preserved.

Even though President Baker does a thorough job of stating a claim, weaknesses are present. He states that it is at the core of the polytechnic university’s mission to find ways to preserve the environment. However, despite the fact that it is a polytechnic university, Cal Poly does not necessarily have to be environmentally friendly. In Dictionary.com, a polytechnic school is defined as an institute that “specializes in the teaching of industrial arts and applied sciences.” Nowhere does this include teaching preservation of the environment. On the other hand, his claim has credibility when he states that the university has carried out actions that are included in the Taloires Declaration. This is shown ...

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...vation, President Baker’s speech did not have much of an impact on me. However, his central idea that the university should lead by example and provide education about sustainability did spark my attention. Not only should Cal Poly be teaching students to be book-smart, but also how to be upstanding citizens in society by respecting and protecting the surrounding environment. With the environment continually deteriorating as a result of pollution and neglect, it is imperative that actions—including ones mentioned by President Baker--continue to be taken by the university to preserve our precious natural resources before they are completely depleted. After reading President Baker’s speech, I now have a better understanding of what my university education is all about. It includes being intelligent in an array of academic areas as well as being environmentally aware.

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