April 5, 2012

In a world in which we are exposed to more information, more options, more philosophies, more perspectives than ever before in our history…we need to be willing to...think through how to achieve the future we want—to commit ourselves to continuous questioning and learning—to be, in a word, self-responsible.

- Nathaniel Branden (Canadian psychotherapist and writer known for his work in the psychology of self-esteem.)

Environmental Stewardship 

This is a shortened work week for us as we break in observance of the Passover and Easter holidays. Both celebrations remind us of life’s most important lessons, including that of responsibility. In the call to lead different and more purposeful lives, we find a two-part duty which is really one: duty to ourselves and duty to others.  

While many in the popular media classify environmental stewardship and free-market economics as polar opposites, we believe differently. Like Russell Kirk, one of the chief architects of the intellectual conservative movement in America, we understand the practice of “piety” includes “respect for the natural balance in the world.”  Certainly not an advocate of top-down management from centralized bureaucracies, Kirk attempted to brighten his own corner of the world by re-seeding and replanting trees on his family’s property, located about 60 miles west of our Michigan campus.   

One way we are putting similar principles to practice at Northwood is through a serious and careful review of a potential new degree program in Sustainability Management. Recently approved by our Deans’ Council and awaiting approval by Northwood’s officers and the Higher Learning Commission, the Sustainability Management program is designed to educate uniquely trained management professionals. These leaders will be able to address the increasing demand for sustainability expertise in the world today and will understand the complex environmental issues intertwined in our global business and social environments.  

In keeping with our tradition of an engaged learning community, we are also putting this responsibility into practice in several areas system wide, including Earth Day (officially observed on April 22) celebrations on our three residential campuses: 

Florida campus: April 19-24 

  • Students enrolled in NSC 3100 Climate Change are designing posters and flyers that will be distributed to students and displayed throughout campus. 
  • Students enrolled in NSC 2100 Environmental Science:
    • Are completing audits of their individual environmental impact, and developing personal plans to minimize that impact. Areas of focus include reducing bottled water use, reducing waste, being aware of the amount of red meat they consume, altering driving habits, and reducing electricity and water use in their apartments or residence halls.
    • Will host “Change Yourself–Change the Planet,” aimed at increasing environmental awareness and action.
    • Looking ahead, our Florida campus is currently reviewing a new campus clean-up initiative entitled “Let’s Talk about Trash.” 

Michigan campus: April 23

  • Campus Clean-Up: students, faculty and staff volunteer to spend time cleaning up the campus after the winter season and planting new trees on campus.
  • Panel Discussion regarding “Sustainable Practices & Opportunities.” Northwood students and faculty will speak about sustainable businesses and organizations, including efforts on campus.
  • Showing of the movie, “So Right, So Smart,” about successful and sustainable businesses.   

Texas campus: April 22

  • Grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new nature preserve trail/sustainable partnership project between our campus and the newly opened Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center
  • Students placed bird nesting boxes, signage, and benches to accommodate students in our science and nature writing classes.
  • The trail will serve many needs including summer activities on our campus such as sustainability camps, IEEE, the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership camp, and visiting Afghan women seminars.

I look forward to sharing more with you about this in the future, especially progress regarding the Sustainability Management program.

In the meantime, I wish you and your families a happy and joyous holiday.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203 (phone)
989.832.9590 (fax)