June 12, 2017
Arizona State University is playing a leadership role in the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO).
GCSO is an international consortium of universities that collaborate to implement and scale solutions that address challenges to sustainability. GCSO membership spans seven countries on three continents, enabling universities to work together in partnership with each other and with governments, businesses, schools and NGOs.
“GCSO is the only consortium focused on taking sustainability solutions developed in the university setting and transferring them to people and organizations that can affect change,” says Dr. Rob Melnick, Executive Director of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability, as well as ASU’s representative to GCSO. “At a time when sustainability problems are growing faster than solutions are being implemented, GCSO provides a global vehicle to accelerate interventions that address this gap.”
In GCSO’s first year, ASU is actively participating in two Consortium-funded projects. The first helps K-12 teachers integrate sustainability principles into their curriculum. Teachers engage in competency-based workshops offered in Germany, Ireland and Mexico, with plans to include additional international locations in year two. This project scales the Sustainability Teachers’ Academy model pioneered by ASU’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative.
The second project ASU is engaged in entails working with city staff to address high-priority sustainability issues. An ASU-City of Tempe workshop on “Future Shocks and City Resilience” is the basis of a collaboration among five GCSO member institutions that met last week at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany to adapt the workshop and other solutions-oriented activities for delivery in Mexico City, Mexico; Karlsruhe, Germany; Lüneburg, Germany; Portland, Oregon (USA); and Tempe, AZ (USA).
A third, solutions-focused project is enabling universities and cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating unnecessary hot water use in public buildings. The project is being piloted at universities in London (King’s College London), Toronto (Univeristy of Toronto) and Dublin (Dublin City University). In addition to quantifying energy and cost savings, the project also looks at what is required to promote behavior change among building users. What GCSO members learn from experiments on the three campuses will be transferred to city government in each location.
ASU provides staff support to all three Consortium-funded projects.
“In a short time, the Consortium has enabled ASU to develop strong working relationships with other ‘like-minded’ universities committed to implementing solutions,” says Jenny Carter, GCSO’s Director and member of the senior professional staff at the ASU Wrigley Institute. “This approach is important if we are going to address at scale critical global sustainability challenges.”