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Hopefully by now you've gotten in the habit of using your CAT XX water bottle, bringing it with you to CAT events, and refilling it at our shiny new bottle-filling station.

You may wonder why we decided to stop purchasing flats of bottled water.

Here's why.

(Thanks to Olivia for spotting this amazing video.)

Download Conversation #29

Meghan Fay Zanhiser

A conversation with Meghan Fay Zanhiser of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education on teaching, learning and sustainability in higher education.

We are a nonprofit membership-based organization that exists to serve anyone in higher education working on sustainability.

Meghan Fay Zanhiser is the Executive Director for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). She has been with AASHE for six years and previously held the positions of Director of Programs and STARS Program Manager. Previously, Meghan worked as Sustainability Specialist at NELSON, where she provided sustainability expertise and consulting services to various clients. She also spent over five years working at the U.S. Green Building Council where, as Manager of Community, she developed and managed a local chapter network for building industry professionals and helped create the Emerging Green Builders program that integrates students and young professionals into the green building movement. Meghan also worked as Environmental Educator for the University at Buffalo Green Office, organizing campus and community education focused on energy conservation, green building, and sustainable living. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, with concentrations in environmental studies and health & human services, from the University at Buffalo and a master’s degree in Organization Management and Development from Fielding Graduate Institute.

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by Bart Everson

CAT's XX anniversary newsletter contains an article by yours truly which traces the origin of the word "sustainability" to just around 1980. I came to that conclusion by using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, an online phrase-usage graphing tool.

Sustainability Ngram

I stand by that minor feat of scholarly inquiry. (It took me less than five minutes.) However, I was a little puzzled by these results. Surely the concept is much older than that?

My method had obvious limitations. I was looking at the history of a word, not the idea behind the word.

New research by Jeremy L. Caradonna suggests the roots of the idea go back to late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe, when people started cutting down too much forest and endangering their own way of life. Caradonna points to one Hans Carl von Carlowitz as the one who coined the word "sustainability" in 1713.

How did I miss that? The twist is that since von Carlowitz was German he called it Nachhaltigkeit.

Indeed, the Ngram Viewer yields quite different results when searching for this term in the corpus of German texts. There's still a major spike in usage over the last several decades, but it doesn't spring out of nowhere.

The spike is evidence of our contemporary sustainability movement. It's an expression of burgeoning concern, but it's also cause for concern in and of itself. As Caradonna notes in a recent interview for the Boston Globe, "If you have a sustainability movement, you know you have a problem." Hans Carl von Carlowitz started writing about Nachhaltigkeit because of a problem he saw with deforestation. The huge spike in writing about this topic in recent years, in English and German and other languages, is an indication of an even deeper problem.

Sustainability is about coming to terms with our limits — living within our means — and in the modern industrialized West, we have pretended for some time that there are no such limits. This illusion is becoming more difficult to maintain, which is why sustainability is becoming ever more prominent in our discourse, including the college curriculum. Thanks to Caradonna's research, the history of our current concerns is a little clearer.

Jeremy L. Caradonna's new book is Sustainability: A History.

Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human ProspectFor our eighth annual Fall Faculty Book Club, we read Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect by David Orr.

At our final meeting, we asked our participating faculty to jot down some thoughts. Here is what they wrote.

For my first faculty book club experience, the selection and discussion were stimulating and provocative. Though written 20 years ago, this is forcing me to think more critically of place, choices and practices, and the connection to other communities. Responsibility needed.

Earth in Mind profiles the gradual annihilation of the planet caused by no-holds-barred economic progress, reliance on fossil fuels, unrestrained technological advancements, and other harmful forces of modernization whose costs are rarely calculated. It should be required reading for everyone, but especially the power brokers of our global society such as politicians, CEOs, financial analysts, education administrators, and scientific researchers.

Earth in Mind is an appropriate name for this collection of essays on the Earth and education. I'm lucky to have received the kind of ecological citizenship training touted by Orr from my family. I believe that it's not too late to make a united, systematic and sustained effort to educate our children to be biophiles and not biophobes so that they will become advocates for our planet and its inhabitants and pass on the love to future generations.

Excellent book! A must-read about the relationship between economy and ecology! Holistic, wholesome, a reminder of our own connection to Nature!

This book provoked me, worried me and confused me at times. It reinforced ideas but it also required me to rethink my ideals and approach to life.

For me, this book was both a practical and promising guide to how I will live and love in this — the sunset of my life. I loved this book. As a teacher, it will be on my great books list!

Earth in Mind is a great book for inspiring an intentional, genuine focus on environmental issues in higher education. I intended to encourage deeper consideration of the long-term consequences of our lifestyle among my students.

Earth in Mind evokes a feel of urgency to spring to action and take care of Mother Earth.

The author builds the case for incorporating the environment to all disciplines. I think this is a good book for all educators.

This book was a great reminder of our responsibility as higher ed faculty to introduce students to the idea of sustainability. If we don't get students to critically think about these issues then who will?

CAT thanks Dr. John P. Clark for recommending this book.

Download Conversation #26

Daniel Greenberg

A conversation with Daniel Greenberg of Earth Deeds on teaching, learning and sustainability.

We can't just rely on our government leaders or our corporations or scientists to fix this. We're going to have to think about our relationships in different ways and we're going to have to understand things in a different way so together we can actually live more sustainably.

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The Center for the Advancement of Teaching has been part of Xavier's culture for 20 years. Therefore we have selected sustainability as the theme for our 20th anniversary year – teaching sustainability in our disciplines, providing offerings to sustain faculty in their professional development, and engaging in sustainable practices of our own – all to promote Xavier's mission of creating a more just and humane society.


In line with our sustainability theme, we are no longer serving bottled water. With the support of Academic Affairs, we've installed a bottle-filling station on the fifth floor of the library. Please remember to bring your water bottle when you come to CAT!

CAT XX 1994-2014 Sustainability

This fall, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) is marking its 20th anniversary. Since its inception in 1994, CAT has existed to fulfill its mission “to advance the art and science of teaching and learning” and has enjoyed broad faculty participation in its services and activities. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, CAT staff have planned a series of special events, beginning with a Kick-Off Social Hour which was held on Thursday, September 4th. and only slightly upstaged by the Dr. Francis' retirement announcement earlier in the day.

CAT has been able to sustain its initiatives and offerings over two decades by evolving with the times to meet faculty needs. And this year, CAT staff have organized their offerings around the theme of Sustainability — exploring issues related to sustainability in the curriculum as well as sustaining the whole faculty member across all areas of responsibility.

In celebration of its 20th year, CAT is exploring ways to expand its services (and ultimately its mission) in supporting the faculty member in all areas of responsibility – Teaching, Scholarship, and Service – utilizing a teacher-scholar model based on comprehensive faculty development. To this end, CAT is in the process of putting together a team from its faculty advisory board to explore an expansion of its mission/values/programs (already affectionately called the MVPs) that takes a holistic approach to developing the faculty member.

In addition, at New Faculty Orientation we welcomed twelve new faculty members to Xavier University. We hosted a day and a half orientation to introduce faculty to Xavier resources. Throughout the academic year, we will host monthly brown bags for this group, discussing topics such as teaching at an HBCU, getting grants, and creating effective assignments. The New Faculty mentoring program is also underway.

P.S. Our 2014 Annual Report is now available.