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On Monday, May 23, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Bard to meet with 34 of the Afghan students currently enrolled at the College. The students gathered at Blithewood, where they shared their stories with Clinton, who has a longstanding interest in helping Afghan women and students.
Most of these students came to Bard after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban last August as part of an effort by Bard, OSUN, and our other international partners to help Afghan students continue their education in safety. Bard has already accepted more than 100 Afghan students to its campuses. Bard expects the Annandale campus cohort to grow to at least 50 students by fall 2022.
In addition to meeting with the Afghan students, Clinton spent time with administrators and campus leaders of several Bard initiatives, including the Bard Prison Initiative, Bard Early Colleges, Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, as well as civic engagement programs such as [email protected], La Voz, [email protected], and Sister2Sister.
Bard Senior Vice President and CFO Taun Toay Discusses the College’s Sustainability Efforts in an Interview for DOE’s Better Climate Challenge “Decarbonization Download” Series
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognized Bard College for committing to reduce portfolio-wide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% within 10 years and to work with DOE to share successful solutions and decarbonization strategies. As a partner in DOE’s Better Climate Challenge, Bard College is one of only 50 organizations across the U.S. economy that are stepping up to the Challenge and driving real-world action toward a low-carbon future. As a place of higher education, Bard College’s campus and buildings are its biggest carbon footprint. Bard is the only small liberal arts college in the country that is converting its built environment to carbon neutral as a Better Climate Challenge partner.
Bard College has set ambitious pollution reduction goals including to cut energy use in campus buildings through efficient lighting and HVAC retrofits, to eliminate fossil fuels by converting to geothermal, to generate 10% of electricity with on-campus solar (and micro hydropower), and to purchase off-site renewable electricity for the remaining 90%. This will be supported by Net Zero design goals for all new construction. As Bard College undertakes this challenge, DOE will support its efforts with technical assistance, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and a platform for the organization to demonstrate its commitment to being part of the solution to climate change.
“Better Climate Challenge partners like Bard College are committing to decarbonize across their portfolio of buildings, plants, and fleets and share effective strategies to transition our economy to clean energy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Their leadership and innovation are crucial in our collective fight against climate change while strengthening the U.S. economy.”
“Colleges and universities should take leadership roles on such pressing issues as global climate change,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “We’re gratified to be working with the Department of Energy as we move forward with our ambitious goals, and we encourage others in higher education to follow suit.”
“Bard is pleased to join a who’s who of 80 global companies committed to mitigating climate change. As an early adopter of geothermal and narrowing in on our carbon neutrality target, Bard is the only college to represent higher education along with four universities throughout the nation to be a first mover with the DOE,” said Taun Toay, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Bard College.
“Decarbonization Download: 5Qs with Bard College” is a video interview featuring Toay discussing Bard College’s sustainability goals, including the development of a Climate & Energy Master Plan that will provide a roadmap to transform campus infrastructure from being dependent on fossil fuels to being operated on 100% renewable energy. Watch the interview here.
In March, Bard College also launched the Worldwide Teach-In on Climate and Justice, a flagship event organized by the Graduate Programs in Sustainability (GPS) at Bard College, with support from the Open Society University Network. Bard’s Worldwide Teach-In on Climate and Justice brought together climate-concerned educators and students at universities and high schools from around the globe for bottom-up conversations about changing the future. Building on a foundation of more than 300 participating organizations this year from Liberia to Colombia, Taiwan to Vienna, and Florida to Alaska, the teach-in organizers hope to engage 1,000 colleges, universities, and other institutions next year, targeting at least 100,000 participants worldwide.
The DOE Better Climate Challenge is the government platform that provides transparency, accountability, technical assistance, and collaboration to identify decarbonization pathways and provide recognition for leadership across the US economy. The Better Climate Challenge builds on over a decade of DOE experience through the Better Buildings Initiative. Through Better Buildings, DOE partners with public and private sector organizations to make commercial, public, industrial, and residential buildings more efficient, thereby saving billions of dollars on energy bills, reducing emissions, and creating thousands of jobs. To date, more than 950 Better Buildings partners have shared their innovative approaches and strategies for adopting energy efficient technologies. Discover more than 3,000 of these solutions in the Better Buildings Solution Center.
The town of Red Hook has moved to stage two of the Audubon certification project, developing a vision plan with action items to support sustainability in areas including agriculture, economic development and tourism, public safety, and transportation. The sustainability designation project is being led by Chief Sustainability Officer at Bard and Chair of Red Hook’s Conservation Advisory Council Laurie Husted and Nick Ascienzo of the Ascienzo Family Foundation. “It’s such a difficult thing to define. We have a system to do it in higher education. It was exciting to think we could look at this as a municipality,” Husted said.
“What I think about as we celebrate our progress is that we inherited decisions that were made before we were born, and we are passing on a legacy to people who aren’t born yet,” said Erin Cannan, vice president for civic engagement at Bard. “What do we want this moment to mean for them?”
Bard College alumnus Gabriel Braunstein ’20 is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope to serve a new community as best I can,” said Braunstein. “I am excited to work in a classroom and meet my new neighbors.”
Braunstein graduated from Bard in 2020 with a degree in literature. He will serve as an education volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean, working in cooperation with local community and partner organizations on sustainable development projects.
The volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors—agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development—and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.
Zarlasht Sarmast is a recent graduate of the American University of Central Asia, Department of International and Comparative Politics. She has previously served as the Spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, Communications specialist for GIZ in Central Asia. Zarlasht is currently working for OSUN as a Program Coordinator for the Global Engagement Fellows program. She is the Director and CEO of the project “Afghanistan Politics on the Verge of Transformation.” Zarlasht recently finished her first MA in the department of International Relations and Security at the OSCE academy in Bishkek and is currently doing her second Masters Degree in applied psychology at AUCA.
Huy is the founder of YUU Organization, a youth-led non-profit organization working to empower ethnic minority children and youth in the Central Highlands of Vietnam through education, employment, and cultural conservation since 2017. Huy follows the servant leadership model, inspired by Mother Teresa, and focuses on work with the Indigenous community in his hometown. In his third year with the Global Fellows Program, Huy aims to amplify the voice of youth in civic engagement across the network.
Mikelison is the C.E.O. and founder of the Earth's Tomorrow Foundation and a Junior at Bard College Studying Environmental and Urban Studies. He is a Posse Scholar and Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow from Atlanta, Georgia who started The Earth's Tomorrow Foundation to assist K-12 students in becoming more environmentally conscious through hands-on sustainability projects. Mikelison's research has been displayed in the T.E.L.L.U.S Museum of Science and internationally recognized at the Genius Olympiad International Science Fair. He aims to make change by using collaborative education methods to encourage young minds to become innovative thinkers and the world's next generation of leaders. As a Global Fellow, he plans to encourage those who want to create positive, sustainable change to get engaged in their communities and guide them in developing projects that will ultimately help better the world.
Henry runs the Bard chapter of Our Revolution, a political organization dedicated to electing progressive politicians who work for the people. He also serves as a member of the Morris County Democratic Committee, and as Sergeant at Arms for the Pequannock Township Democratic Committee. Henry believes that being politically active is an essential part of democratic civic life, and as a Global Fellow, works to promote political civic activities.
During her gap year, Emi, a first-year intended Economics major at Bard College, initiated a community development project in a rural village on the Coast of Kenya. The project is centered around education and addresses issues of food insecurity. Emi built a library for a local primary school, delivered food and supplies to local community members, and created income generating programs to help the community sustain itself. The future of the project is focused around building sustainable infrastructure and educating local farmers to help them increase agricultural productivity. As a global fellow, Emi is committed to mobilizing Bard students to participate in civic engagement. Emi is hoping to bridge the connection between Bard students who feel passionate about social and environmental justice and opportunities to get involved with advocacy and mutual aid.
Aleksandar Vitanov is a sophomore international student from North Macedonia at Bard College studying Political Studies and Trumpet Performance at the Bard Conservatory of Music. He came to Bard after spending his junior and senior years of high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. He is on Bard’s Student Honor List, founded a Trustee Leader Scholar initiative called Musical Mentorship Initiative which provides free music education to families that cannot afford it, serves on Bard’s Student Government as the chair of the Pier Review Board, he is the Co-Chair of the Constitutional Court at Bard, and is the founder of the Alexander Hamilton Society Bard College Chapter. His goal as a Global Fellow is to increase awareness of the importance of civic engagement on campus, serve as a resource to fellow students, and connect with other Global Fellows around the world.
A liberal arts student double majoring in Ethics and Politics and Literature and Rhetorics, Lara's main goal is to encourage an approach to life that emphasizes the importance of students’ participation in civic life. As a Global Fellow, she wants to help provide students with the tools they need to take an active role in their community and work with others to help make the change they want to see happen.
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