The University and Environmental Preservation
Caring for the environment has traditionally been thought of as a responsibility of environmental organizations such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. Universities have never been thought of as the leaders of environmental preservation—until now. Since universities are looked upon with high regard, many people including President Baker of Cal Poly, feel that it is the responsibility of the university to set an example of how the environment is respected and conserved. In his Earth Day speech in 2004, President Baker claims that Cal Poly finds it suitable to be a signatory of the Talloires Declaration. This is a 10-point plan signed by over 300 universities worldwide setting out the key actions they will take for a more sustainable future. By signing the Talloires Declaration, he claims it is the mission of the polytechnic university to find ways in which society can be improved, scarce resources can be managed, and environmental values can be preserved.
Even though President Baker does a thorough job of stating a claim, weaknesses are present. He states that it is at the core of the polytechnic university’s mission to find ways to preserve the environment. However, despite the fact that it is a polytechnic university, Cal Poly does not necessarily have to be environmentally friendly. In Dictionary.com, a polytechnic school is defined as an institute that “specializes in the teaching of industrial arts and applied sciences.” Nowhere does this include teaching preservation of the environment. On the other hand, his claim has credibility when he states that the university has carried out actions that are included in the Taloires Declaration. This is shown through the substantial support of environmental programs and institutes President Baker provides in his speech.
With the claim and reasons come both positive and negative aspects, but the evidence President Baker provides is valid. In his speech President Baker mentions evidence such as environmentally aware organizations and groups in Cal Poly along with the educational opportunities and learning institutes involving sustainability. Specifically, he mentions the web page and examples of actions taken by the Facilities Planning Department. This organization has implemented activities and ideals that are supported by principles of environmental sustainability. Also, in compliance with the Talloires Declaration, Cal Poly teaches environmentally responsible citizenship through educational programs. For example, several colleges offer degree programs and minors that provide emphasis on...