San Diego State University is bringing together the region’s citizens, educators, policymakers and researchers to identify, define and address the region’s most critical issues at the new San Diego State University Center for Regional Sustainability.
The center will be a forum through which a range of stakeholders can come together to work collaboratively to implement comprehensive sustainable solutions to pressing problems in San Diego and Imperial counties, and in Northern Baja, Mexico.
Challenged by its reliance on imported water and energy, its reliance on automobiles as the primary mode of transportation and other geographic and ecological challenges, the San Diego region is a microcosm reflecting obstacles to achieving sustainability worldwide.
With its research capability, educational mission and long-standing commitment to community engagement, SDSU is uniquely positioned to act as a conduit to creating a structure where each of the region’s issues are not only addressed, but done so in a way that can be a model of sustainability worldwide.
“The Center for Regional Sustainability will serve many purposes,” said Geoff Chase, dean of SDSU’s Undergraduate Studies and director of the center.
“It will bring together individuals from across our region to address issues head on. And it will also provide a vehicle for our students, who are the region’s future work force, to learn how to incorporate sustainable practices into their particular areas of interest.”
Identifying key issues
Identifying and tackling particular issues, such as water resource management, climate change, transportation, energy, air quality, health, social equity and sustainable workforce development, the center will build on its capacity to conduct basic and applied research while sponsoring regional and community forums to further define and identify pressing issues.
Most importantly, the SDSU Center for Regional Sustainability will ensure that generations of students will gain the skills and abilities that will allow the region to grow, prosper and sustain itself over the long term. Consequently, the center will have an immediate impact on problems today and will also have a transformative impact on the lives of future generations.
Sustainability on campus
SDSU is no stranger to programs that teach and research sustainability. It has been a major campus initiative for several years and has produced such programs as:
- Sustainable Tourism Management: SDSU is the only program in the U.S. to offer a sustainable tourism curriculum at the undergraduate level. The four-year degree allows students to explore issues at the intersection of the tourism industry and the community, such as: transportation, migration, communication, unemployment, education, natural resources and economic development.
- Green building construction, and renewable energy, and green energy management programs: Last year, the College of Extended Studies launched the first professional certificates for LEED certification.
- Interdisciplinary programs in sustainability in the undergraduate programs: Environmental studies, environmental sciences and environmental engineering, as well as other concentrations within programs, encourage students to adopt a holistic view of sustainability and the environment with focus areas in environmental geography, sustainable development, the urban environment, social justice, international conflict resolution, public policy, environmental and outdoor education, and water resources.
- SDSU community programs with regional partners including: CleanTECH San Diego, Energy Innovation Small Grants Program, Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy, SANDAG Energy Working Group, National Energy Center for Sustainable Communities, U.S. Good Neighbor Environmental Board and the University of California San Diego.
- SDSU student engagement: The associated student government of San Diego State University secured through a student referendum $250,000 per year to upgrade facilities for sustainability and they are in the third year of the AS Green Love campaign to impact student behavior, save energy, reduce waste and create more academic programs on sustainability. The AS Executive Board has approved construction of a LEED platinum certified student center.