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Assignment: Eco-Friendly Campuses
Universities are going green. How can landscape architects help?
By Meg Calkins, ASLA

The environmental crisis is at heart a crisis of ideas," writes Oberlin College's David Orr, author of Ecological Literacy and other books on education, campuses, and the environment. "As such, higher education is deeply implicated in the crisis and strenuously obliged to address it."

While inquiry and ideas are the stuff of higher education, examination of the campus environment and impacts of campus operations have not, until recently, been questioned. David Eagan, in The Campus and Environmental Responsibility, a book he coauthored with Orr, suggests the reason is the "ivory tower syndrome," where the university is walled off from the rest of the world. And yet, he writes, "At the University of Wisconsin [a typical state university], the impact of 60,000 individuals, a billion-dollar budget, 220 buildings, 900 acres, 12 miles of roads, and 4 miles of lakeshore is about as real-world as you can get." While most environmental efforts have focused on the formal curriculum, students are receiving a conflicting message from the institution's built environment: patterns of consumption and production of waste.

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