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Spelman Wraps Up the Fall Semester with a Number of Environmental Sustainability Achievements Share a Spelman College Press Release


Media Contact:
Audrey Arthur
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

ATLANTA (Dec. 11, 2015) – Spelman College achieved a number of notable environmental sustainability milestones this fall semester including representation for the first time at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Fatemeh Shafiei, Ph.D., Sustainable Spelman co-chair and chair of the Department of Political Science, and Takasha Nutall, C’2016, were part of an HBCU delegation of 15 schools that traveled to the COP21 Climate Convention held Nov. 30-Dec. 11, 2015, in Paris, France. The goal of the summit was to come away with a new international binding agreement to address climate change.

“One of the reasons for wanting to be physically present at the convention was to influence climate change policy and network,” said Dr. Shafiei, whose research interests include environmental politics. “Another was to heighten students’ awareness and provide opportunities for students to experience first-hand how leaders negotiate and make policy. College students are a critical group to start cultivating a sense of environmental awareness and civic responsibility.”

Dr Shafiei noted that having HBCUs, and Spelman in particular, serve as architects of the new era of sustainability is apropos. She advocates that all individuals have opportunities to participate, thrive while protecting the environment, and take all imaginable steps to not only to be involved in the climate justice debate, but also shape and shepherd the discussion.

“This is the time for HBCUs to be engaged and lead the effort toward advancing climate justice,” said Dr. Shafiei, director of the Spelman College/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Teachers Environmental Institute. “Unless HBCUs intentionally focus on climate justice and engage all stakeholders in crafting solutions for a sustainable future, the concerns of people of color and vulnerable people are going to be overlooked.  The time for leadership is now if we dare to dream and make climate justice a reality.”

Another environmental sustainability accomplishment during fall 2015 was the Environmental Hero Award presented Dec. 6 to Art Frazier, director of facilities management. Frazier, who received the recognition from the Environmental Community Action, Inc., has led many of the College’s short and long-term sustainability efforts.

“Spelman is committed to sustainability because we believe it’s important to reduce our impact on our environment,” he said. “And, as a higher education institution, it is vital to incorporate sustainability concepts throughout students’ learning experience as we prepare a future generation of leaders.”

Additional sustainability achievements:

•    Spelman was among the Atlanta University Center institutions that took part in the AUC Environmental Press Conference and Rally for Clean Air and Energy Equity at Morehouse College on Nov. 19. The event was a partnership with Sierra and other environmental organizations, and held in conjunction with the Atlanta regional EPA hearings on the Clean Power Plan. The rally was a show of support for strong climate action.
•    The White House announced on Nov. 19 that Spelman and more than 200 other colleges and universities signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge to support clean energy and strong action on climate change by world leaders at the Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
•    In keeping with Spelman’s participation in Chevrolet’s Campus Clean Energy Campaign, Spelman students participated in a Nov. 18 Deep Dive Dialogue online with Dave Tulauskas, director of sustainability at General Motors Company, at which Chevrolet announced that it had met its eight million ton CO2 retirement goal.
•    On Nov. 12, the Ford Motor Company awarded the top prize of $25,000 to a team of Spelman students in the 2015 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Challenge at Spelman. The winning team – Shade Douglas, C’2016; Imani Parker, C’2016; and Erika Smith, C’2016 – developed “The Giving Kitchen” program, which uses hydroponics and aquaponics to help urban residents grow home gardens in small spaces such as shoe boxes or plastic bins, regardless of climate or seasonal changes. The $25,000 grant will enable the students to implement their winning proposal to encourage children in the Atlanta community to eat healthy with the aid of low-cost, sustainable gardens.
•    In October, Spelman received $132,790 from Chevrolet in exchange for sold carbon credits as a result of the College’s sustainability initiatives; funds will be reinvested in campus energy efficient projects and technologies such as LED lighting and building retro commissioning to ensure Spelman buildings are energy efficient. The award is the outcome of a three-year energy efficiency agreement with Chevrolet. The funds will be used to implement projects that further reduce Spelman's carbon footprint.
•    In August, Sierra selected Spelman as one of the greenest schools in the U.S. of 2015, with mention of the College’s incorporation of sustainability concepts into the curriculum.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,000 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit


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