Purple Goes Green raises awareness of sustainable campus options

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Campus Editor

Efforts to inform both new and returning Northwestern students about sustainability began early this year with organized programs held during Wildcat Welcome.

Northwestern’s Office of Sustainability hosted the event “Purple Goes Green” on Tuesday to teach incoming students about the numerous environmental initiatives on campus.

Representatives from Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern helped present information about its new undergraduate certificate in multidisciplinary areas of sustainability and energy, which was announced last spring.

Jeff Henderson, ISEN’s assistant director of marketing and communications, said they were excited with the positive response they had received so far.

“It’s really exciting because this is a new class with no CTECs and a new faculty member, but the fact that so many students have signed up is a testament to the students interest in these issues,” Henderson said.

The certificate program consists of three introductory ISEN courses (ISEN 210, 220, 230) and four additional elective courses, according to the initiative’s website. ISEN 210, Introduction to Sustainability, will be offered to undergraduates this fall. As of Tuesday, 52 students were registered for the course.

Henderson said he thought the interest in the new course and certificate may have been generated by the growing popularity of previously offered ISEN classes.

“Some of our other undergraduate classes are enrolling 110 or 120 students,” Henderson said. “These courses are on their way to becoming standard classes everyone takes, like Introduction to Psychology or economics.”

For Weinberg freshman Yahui Kang, the introductory course will be an opportunity to pursue an academic interest in sustainability while deciding on a major.

“If it is interesting, I will definitely take more (ISEN) courses,” she said.

Weinberg junior Mark Silberg said the certificate will give him the opportunity to pursue an extracurricular concentration in the classroom. Silberg will act as the associate vice president for sustainability, heading the sustainability committee Associated Student Government added last spring.

Silberg said he was interested in the interdisciplinary nature of the certificate and was pleased that it offered an opportunity to learn more about sustainability to students with or without technical experience.

“It’s about time we have this certificate,” he said.

Silberg attended the event to raise awareness about ASG’s new committee. Other student groups attended the event to recruit freshmen members. Rob Whittier, director of the Office of Sustainability, which was created last year, led the presentation and invited all students in attendance to take the Green Pledge.

The Green Pledge allows students, faculty and staff members to commit to simple choices that will create a more sustainable world, according to its website.

“Little things you do make a big difference when you think about the number of students we have,” Whittier said.