This is a letter from President Cabrera to the 2013 Environmental March Madness judges. George Mason University made it to the “Finest Four” and was a close second to this year’s National Champion.
Before I arrived at George Mason University last summer, I was invited to chair the 3rd Global Forum on Responsible Management Education at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) in Rio de Janeiro. To my delight, I learned that George Mason Environmental Science and Policy professor Dr. Thomas Lovejoy was also in Rio, to receive nothing less than the Blue Planet Prize, the “Nobel Prize” of environmental scientists and activists, for his career-long contributions in the field of biodiversity—a concept he coined. I met Professor Lovejoy a day before his award ceremony at a traditional Churrasqueira in Barra de Tijuca.
I recently learned that this summer, one year after I met him in Brazil, Dr. Lovejoy has arranged for George Mason to host Earth 2100, a conference that will convene college students concerned about the environment and challenge them to create a vision for a more sustainable future. I am proud—but not surprised—to know that George Mason University is taking the lead in this important work. This is further proof that, even among the impressive Sustainable 16 schools, Mason’s university-wide commitment to environmental protection and sustainable solutions merits special attention
I was fascinated not only by Tom’s work, but by his passion in describing the work of many other faculty at Mason. Our University indeed boasts an impressive array of scholars and research centers addressing climate change and other environmental challenges, and sustainability-related courses and programs have become a hallmark of our curriculum.
Mason’s commitment to the environment transcends academics. Our Sustainable Living Learning Community, Green Patriots, and Environmental Action Group ensure that environmental concerns are front and center in student life. Our Office of Sustainability works tirelessly to green our operations and culture, while creating valuable hands-on learning experiences for students. Perhaps the most creative example of this is the Patriot Green Fund, which provides financial support to members of the Mason community for sustainability-related infrastructure improvement and research projects that use our campus as a learning laboratory.
Throughout my first year as president, I have worked with the Mason community on developing a new vision and mission for our university. Going forward, Mason will strive to be the best university for the world. In this spirit, Mason is among the first 15 American universities to join the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which commits institutions to align their work with ten principles that fall into four areas of focus—Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption. This commitment is bringing Mason’s institutional policies and practices in line with the four UNGC focus areas. Crucially, the commitment is also inspiring us to better leverage our intellectual resources in developing solutions to global environmental problems and in preparing our students, the next generation of leaders, to become knowledgeable and responsible stewards of the planet.
George Mason University