The Sustainability Institute’s mission is to be a catalyst, convener, and champion of sustainability ideas and actions across and beyond the University of New Hampshire. The institute fosters a culture of sustainability that permeates the civic, professional, and personal lives of members of the UNH community.
As a public land-, sea- and space-grant institution, UNH has been dedicated to the public good for over 150 years. Sustainability, the collective commitment to human dignity for all people and ecological integrity in all places, is fundamental to the public good and is a core UNH value. In the process, the institute brings diverse people and ideas together to make the university a model sustainable learning community that reaches beyond campus to engage state, regional, national, and international partners to advance sustainable solutions.
Our work is to advance sustainability in all aspects of UNH’s mission, including upholding our national standing as a top-ranked institution for sustainability. This work is built on three pillars:
- We coordinate and support programs to directly engage students in sustainability.
- We connect and support staff and faculty to advance sustainability in our campus operations, across the curriculum, and in research.
- We serve as the backbone organization for multiple sustainability networks across the region.
Dr. Tom Kelly is the Chief Sustainability Officer for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and founding executive director of the Sustainability Institute — the first endowed sustainability office in the United States.
Dr. Fiona Wilson is the Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the Director of the Sustainability Institute. UNH is the state's flagship public university, a land-, sea- and space-grant institution, and a recognized national leader in sustainability.
What is sustainability?
At the UNH, the concept of sustainability is firmly rooted in our 150-year history. As a land-, sea-, and space-grant university, we use a community-based approach to learning and a systems approach to solving problems. This is evident in our long-standing dedication to the meaningful trans-disciplinary creation of knowledge and our shared investment in our accomplishments.
The 1992 Earth Summit was an unprecedented global gathering of heads of state and representatives from more than 170 governments, including the United States. The summit reoriented international development into a more holistic framework that integrated the principles of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic vitality to meet the needs of present and future generations. This approach guided the initial efforts of the Sustainability Institute.
Today, we view sustainability as a collective commitment to human dignity for all people and ecological integrity in all places. It is built upon an inter-generational, ethical obligation that holds social justice, collaboration, and inclusive prosperity to be essential to fulfill diverse human potential and preserve the health of the planet upon which we all depend. This manifests as an ethic that compels us to respond to urgent, complex challenges with trans-disciplinary approaches that involve diverse partners, on campus and beyond.