—Systemic change begins with personal change—

552: Hilary Link, part 2: colleges and universities talk sustainability but rarely act. This college president does.


Hilary describes her commitments as achieving some success and some failure, but learned from both. We start with her personal experiences and memories of ice skating and cross country skiing as a child leading to her sometimes painful lessons today. More than just ice skating again, she took lessons with her child. Listen to her for the lesson and why it was painful, but I'll share that she learned to wear a helmet. She also talked about driving less, which led to what she could do with her community not to accept that not driving has to be hard, but how to improve the situation. She talked about eating less meat, which I heard creating more connection within family. From the personal, we moved to the systemic. As the president of an august institution and connected to peers at peer organizations, she can influence within Allegheny and among university presidents and across academia. It's nice to talk about change and sustainability. It's nice to change institutions. But she points out, everyone sees what you do and your personal behavior affects others. I don't think this episode is the last we'll hear of Dr. Link. I believe she'll implement some of the ideas that came up during her actions and this conversation. Stay tuned.

543: Hilary Link, part 1: a college president leading her school to carbon neutrality


Allegheny College was one of the first 10 institutions of higher education in the United States to be declared carbon neutral by an organization called Second Nature. Readers of my blog know my skepticism of claims of "net zero" or "carbon neutral," but I look for people in leadership positions acting genuinely and authentically toward sustainability. So I bring you Allegheny's president, Dr. Hilary Link. She shares the college's experience starting a decade ago, before her arrival, and its institutional long-term action. She also shares her helping her peers do similar work at other schools. Allegheny College took on the challenge without a substantial endowment, a large staff, or a big budget. For the last five years, the College's Environmental Science and Sustainability program has been listed among the top five in the U.S. for its interdisciplinary, experiential approach. Like most guests, she agreed to share her environmental values and commit to live by them personally.

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