BY ISN STAFF | April 13, 2021
On Earth Day, April 22, 2021, Gonzaga University will officially launch the new Gonzaga Center for Climate, Society, and the Environment. The center’s development is a direct response to the threat of global climate change from the school’s Catholic, Jesuit, humanistic mission commitment.
The interdisciplinary academic center will serve Gonzaga students, faculty, and community members at Gonzaga in the inland northwest region by advancing innovative, interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, consulting, and capacity-building. The center will provide resources and opportunities to meet the unprecedented challenges facing humanity and the wider natural environment in the 21st century.
The center responds to Pope Francis’ call in the landmark ecological encyclical, Laudato Si’, to work for environmental justice that meets the urgent needs of the most poor and vulnerable impacted by climate change in our “care for our common home.”
Dr. Brian G. Henning will serve as the inaugural director and founder of the center. Dr. Henning is a professor of philosophy and a professor of environmental studies at Gonzaga University. An award-winning author, he has written
or edited more than 10 books and 35 articles and chapters, including Riders in the Storm: Ethics in an Age of Climate Change (Anselm 2015) and Climate Change Ethics and the Non-human World (Routledge 2020).
Featured panelists at the April 22 Earth Day launch event will include Jay Inslee, Washington State Governor, Bill McKibben, founder of the global climate action group 350.org, and Keya Chatterjee, executive director of the U.S. Climate Action Network.
Gonzaga University has for years committed environmental justice and increased institutional sustainability. In January 2021, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awarded Gonzaga University a gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements. In both 2020 and 2017 Gonzaga was named among the most environmentally responsible colleges and is included in the 2021 edition of “The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges.” Also in 2020, AASHE recognized Gonzaga’s Cataldo Project as one of 16 national Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum.
In September 2019, Gonzaga and ZagDining by Sodexo achieved its “Real Food Challenge” goal with 20% of the food served on campus sourced from ecologically sound, fair and humane, and local- and community-based providers.
In 2018, Gonzaga University joined nearly 600 U.S. Catholic institutions in signing the Catholic Climate Declaration, affirming the Paris Agreement and supporting actions to meet its goals to reduce carbon emissions.
Gonzaga approved its first comprehensive Climate Action Plan in 2013, as well as signing Catholic Climate Covenant’s St. Francis Pledge the same year as a commitment to the planet and the poor. Moreover, as a signatory to the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the University has pledged to work toward climate neutrality by 2050. To reach that goal, Gonzaga aims for all new campus construction to meet LEED Silver certifications or better.
Gonzaga has met its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 20% by 2020 and aims to reduce the emissions by 50% by 2035 (from 2009 levels).