Cataldo Project at Gonzaga's Core

It's in our Core

The work of the Cataldo Project amplifies and enriches the revised Core Curriculum by facilitating inclusion of environmental and sustainability issues in First Year Seminars, Social Justice designated classes, and Core Integration Seminars. Further, the Cataldo Project supports several other strategic initiatives of the University, including Gonzaga’s Climate Action Plan, and the Lilly Endowment funded Theology Institute for High School Youth “Stewardship, Sustainability, and Moral Decision Making.”

Sustainability and our Jesuit Mission

In recent years Gonzaga has increased the visibility and the extent of its commitment to environmental sustainability. From the creation of sustainable purchasing and design policies and the building of LEED certified “green” buildings, to the approval of a university Climate Action Plan that aims to reduce Gonzaga’s carbon footprint by half within the next twenty years and the hiring of a Director of Sustainability, the Gonzaga community is challenging itself to take very real steps to reduce the ecological impact of our operations. We all are implicated in and need to contribute to this work. As important as the sustainability of our facilities is, the learning that takes place in those facilities is even more important.

In September of 2008, Psychology Professor Monica Bartlett began laying the groundwork for reviving a group of students, faculty, and staff to address environmental issues on campus. Monica partnered with Philosophy Professor Brian Henning, who had experience creating and organizing a stewardship committee at his former institution. Throughout the fall of 2008, the group (consisting of faculty, staff and students) met regularly to discuss organization, purpose, and duties. The hope of this group was to gain knowledge about what was already happening on campus, celebrate it, and identify new projects and ideas for the institution to implement. Then President Robert Spitzer, SJ officially approved the creation of the Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability (ACSS) and its Steering Committee on January 29, 2009, with the Council reporting directly to the President's Office. In October of 2010, President Thayne McCulloh signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and officially charged the ACSS with the responsibility of implementing the Commitment, which requires the creation of a Climate Action Plan. Over two academic years (2011-2013) the ACSS created the University's first greenhouse gas inventories and a Climate Action Plan.

The Climate Action Plan called for, among other things, the hiring of a Director of Sustainability. This position was approved in 2013 and in 2014 Gonzaga's first Director of Sustainability, Jim Simon, was hired. (To allow the Director of Sustainability to create his own structures, in November of 2015 the ACSS voted to dissolve itself.) The first goal of the Climate Action Plan is the deepening of sustainability across the curriculum. This work began even before the Climate Action Plan was completed. Much of the curricular work came out of a series of conversations hosted by Jean MacGregor and the Washington Center's Curriculum for the Bioregion project. With their help and funding, Gonzaga hosted the first regional sustainability across the curriculum conference in 2012. A second, larger conference, also supported by the Washington Center, was held two years later at Spokane Community College. These workshops brought together a diverse group of faculty from across campus and created the core group that would eventually propose the creation of the Cataldo Project and the Faculty Fellow for Sustainability who would run it. The Cataldo Project was approved in 2015 by Academic Vice President Patricia Killen and the first workshop was held in May 2016, led by Brian G. Henning, Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies.


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