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College Signs St. Francis Pledge to Help Environment

April 20, 2012

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Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., president of the college, has endorsed the Saint Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor, led by the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. Saint Anselm College is one of several Catholic colleges that have joined the effort to respond to an environmental call to action from Pope Benedict and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Brian Penney, a biology professor who heads the college's Environmental Stewardship Committee, says that in making this commitment, Saint Anselm College created a framework for looking at its environmental impact as a social justice issue.

"Because environmental issues disproportionately affect people in developing nations and on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic scale, we have to start looking at our environmental practices differently," he says. "Many students here serve the community and try to help the needy, and they want to do more. This pledge casts attention on the small actions that we make on a day-to-day basis that build up to affect the health of the planet," he says.

The pledge asks individuals to make a difference in four areas: praying and learning about climate change, assessing their own environmental impact, acting to reduce their impact, and advocating for policies and initiatives that protect the environment and the world's poor.

The pledge also underscores the progress Saint Anselm College has made recently to move in a more environmentally sustainable direction. Electrical adjustments have resulted in significant energy savings in residences and academic buildings. Recycling has increased, and the college is on target to reach full recycling by 2013.

"We are not just signing it, we are really committing to it," says Penney, citing curriculum additions of courses in environmental economics and environmental history.

The efforts are in line with Saint Anselm College's goal of educating globally aware, informed citizens who can contribute to a more just community and world.

"In endorsing the pledge, Saint Anselm College demonstrates that becoming ‘green' means something different for a Catholic institution," says Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. "Saint Anselm is integrating sustainability into the very mission of its Catholic identity."

More information on the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is at: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/