The culture of Saint Joseph’s College is inherently community-oriented and civic-minded. As a Sisters of Mercy Institution, we share the Sisters’ commitment to social justice and advocacy. Additionally, the Mission of the College states that we will “advocate for justice and peace in recognition of each person's responsibility for the welfare of both humankind and the environment.” A closer examination of the culture of engagement at Saint Joseph’s College reveals that sustainability in its broadest sense now permeates every aspect of our work. As the College’s own strategic plan Sustaining the Promise says, “We are an intentional community—one where everyone is committed to the practice and pursuit of the Core Values that are central to our identity as Catholic and Mercy—faith, excellence, integrity, community, respect, compassion, and justice—in everything we do from our educational programs to the ways we work and live together… Our continuing focus on these common concerns has led us to embrace the theme of “wellness and sustainability” as a major organizing principle.” Taking Action, Saint Joseph’s College’s Civic Action Plan, deliberately infuses sustainability initiatives into our culture of civic and community engagement, and identifies three priority goals that will strengthen and focus these efforts across campus while enhancing the public purpose of Saint Joseph’s College:
- Goal 1
We will academically integrate the theme of “wellness and sustainability” with our commitment to civic engagement through the Implementation of Sustainability Education. Additionally, we will create a Sustainability Certificate Program, which will explore the connections between social, environmental, and economic systems, and equip students with the knowledge to apply sustainable, integrated problem-solving approaches in their communities.
- Goal 2
We will coordinate the efforts of faculty, staff, and students under the common goal of a sustainable future that includes a healthy environment, economic prosperity, and social justice, through both the Development of a Civic Sustainability Lab and the Creation of a Chief Sustainability Officer Position. The Civic Sustainability Lab will promote, enhance, and reward high-impact practices such as community-based learning and research, critical thinking and reflection, and experiential learning. The Chief Sustainability Officer will work across the organizational structure of the College to support a robust sustainability management system that strives to continuously improve alignment with the College's Strategic Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Civic Action Plan.
- Goal 3
We will communicate that we are an intentional community dedicated to improving health and vitality in the region through the Development of a Community Culture Collective and the Creation of the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation. The Community Culture Collective will be a place-based interdisciplinary collaboration of campus and community members supporting civic engagement and environmental sustainability through creative programs and media. The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation will serve as a supporting organization for the development of Maine’s food and beverage industry by providing critically needed workforce training, facilities for scale-up of home operations, business development, and collaboration of other supporting organizations. Institutionalizing Our Commitment to Excellence One of Sustaining the Promise’s seven strategic initiatives is “Institutionalizing Our Commitment to Excellence,” which calls us to develop sustainable systems for measuring and assessing our efforts in order to improve our practice in a variety of areas. Taking Action will serve as a vehicle for this effort while further emphasizing our “Commitment to Excellence.” The formal 3-year review of Taking Action will include a set of recommendations to continue the process of institutionalizing—and thereby making sustainable—the College’s commitment to civic and community engagement and enhancing the public purpose of Saint Joseph’s College.