“The primary mission of the University of Washington is the preservation, advancement, and dissemination of knowledge.”
– September 26, 2016, Board of Regents Policy
Conservationists have said that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. As a research university and institution of higher education, we at the UW are by nature, future-focused. Through the power of education and discovery, we help create the future, advancing and disseminating knowledge. But, we also preserve it, connecting past to future.
As a global leader in environmental science research, the University of Washington is home to the nation’s largest and most comprehensive College of the Environment. Our researchers include some of the world’s leading authorities on the impact of global warming and are at the forefront of developing new models that refine climate change projections. Climate change is not only real, it is urgent. We must take action today.
That is why, along with almost a hundred of our university peers as well as Governor Inslee and other governors, mayors and business leaders, we have become signatories of the “We Are Still In” letter stating that, in the absence of leadership from the federal government, we remain in solidarity with those around the world committed to a transition to clean energy and to holding global warming to well below 2°C.
This decision is in keeping with our University’s commitment to sustainability as a core value. We are proud that we have been on the “Green Honor Roll” for colleges and universities for six years in a row and of the many sustainability awards that we garner each year. We are a charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), and have in place an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral. We are also world leaders in the development of green technologies and clean energy and a focus on sustainability and climate change is one of the pillars of our Population Health Initiative.
Residing in one of the most beautiful parts of the planet, we like to say that sustainability is in our nature. The University of Washington and our faculty, students and staff are committed to finding solutions that will preserve the Earth’s ability to support not just humanity, but also the rich ecosystems we depend on and which make our world such a remarkable place. This mission of preservation, or conservation — of ensuring that the benefits we have enjoyed are still there for our children and theirs — goes beyond “knowledge” in the narrow sense of the word. It includes the earth itself, as it literally holds the seeds that nourish life. This is not a matter of politics. It is a matter of principle and survival.