Friday, September 13, 2013

Bentley University Sustainability on Campus and in Ghana

Bentley University has made sustainability a priority, not just on campus but in the developing African nation of Ghana. Located just west of Boston, Bentley is a business university with more than 5,000 full-time students. The university has set aggressive goals to eliminate their carbon footprint by 2030. Bentley is reducing their environmental footprint through energy management, and building environmentally conscious retrofits including the installation of LED lights.

Bentley is also purchasing 25 million kWh/yr of RECs which have helped to halve the school's carbon footprint. Bentley was honored by the EPA as a Green Power Partner and earned recognition as one of the top ten Northeast-10 Conference schools in the EPA’s College & University Green Power Challenge.

Bentley's sustainability efforts have gone far beyond the college campus and  now extend all the way to Africa.  Diane M. Kellogg is an associate professor of management at Bentley University and the driving force behind the university's sustainability program in Ghana.

Diane's work in Ghana began when she took over for her friend Carol Gray. Carol was raising money to build an orphanage in the country when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I want to die knowing the orphanage can support itself, without always needing donations." Carol said to Diane, "You’re a management consultant. You teach at a business school. Could Bentley help?” she asked.

After getting involved, Diane teamed up with Dale Kuntz, a professor of global studies and together they took 12 students to Ghana to study the role of nongovernmental organizations in economic development—and to visit the orphanage. They saw an opportunity to help by teaching them business principles with the idea that this could generate income and make them sustainable.

Soon Bentley’s mission expanded to include an education for students at a business school. Diane coined the term “Partners in Learning,” based on Paul Farmer’s “partners in health” concept described in the book Mountains Beyond Mountains. Along with Bentley's Partners, they began working on things like sanitation, water quality, the poultry industry, and solar power.

Diane then became a collaborator on other global programs and she raised funds for international travel grants and made those available to other programs. Eventually Diane involved 10 other faculty members who taught their courses in Ghana. Then they began taking professional staff to Ghana to assist. They also started a social enterprise on campus to keep students engaged with Ghana year round. They developed eight-week internships in Ghana to offer opportunities for students to get even more deeply involved.

Eventually the project grew to such an extent that Diane was able to convince Bentley to create a position to oversee the growing numbers of faculty, students, partners, and projects. This effort not only benefits the people of Ghana and Bentlely's students, it also provides staff with an opportunity to contribute in practical terms that help to make the country more sustainable.

For more information about Bentley University click here.

To learn more about the Ghana Project click here to see the Youtube video.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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