The Member Spotlight celebrates our members who work tirelessly to advance sustainability at their campuses and in their surrounding communities.
John M. Pearson always felt a personal drive to establish sustainability, along with diversity, social justice and equality as key values both inside and outside the classroom. In 1998, Mr. Pearson helped co-found the Foundation for International Education (FIE), a London-based non-profit educational organization, providing customized partnership programs and individual student enrollment programs in London, Dublin, and Amman for undergraduate students.
As Senior Vice President of Operations, Mr. Pearson works closely with all FIE departments to design, progress and deliver programs that establish sustainability, diversity, social justice and equality as key values both in and out of the classroom. “If you can’t affect students and their approach to sustainability and the environment during an undergraduate experience in general, then there is little other time you can do it,” Mr. Pearson said.
FIE stands out in their efforts to practice and advance sustainability, as evidenced by being the first organization in the UK to earn a STARS rating, achieving STARS Silver. “As part of our own sustainability audit, a question arose of always making sure we do what we say we are doing,” Mr. Pearson explained. Advancing sustainability has become central to FIE. All decisions made within the organization encompass a level of sustainability.
Outside of their recent STARS rating and work to instill sustainability values in students throughout the world, Mr. Pearson helps spearhead the Student Global Leadership Conference to bring together undergraduate students from around the world to work toward a sustainable future.
AASHE believes that higher education leads the global sustainability transformation, but starting institution-wide sustainability programs can be challenging. Mr. Pearson believes that these types of programs need to start at the top and be led. “You can start small, but you have got to have sustainability champions at senior leadership level. Try lobbying senior leaders on the importance of sustainability and influencing those immediately around you.”
What advice do you have for those trying to start or advance an institution-wide sustainability program? Tell us in the comments, below.