Graduation Pledge Alliance
Media Relations Contact: Anthony Buono, Coordinator, AESR
APRIL 20, 2012, WALTHAM, MA – 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of students across the nation and around the world making a commitment to promote social and environmental responsibility in their future workplaces. Started in 1987 at Humboldt State University, the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility reads as follows: I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work. Since that initial year, more than 200,000 students have signed the Graduation Pledge.
According to Matthew Nicodemus, one of the original founders of the Pledge, “Taking the Pledge is not just signing a piece of paper or taking an abstract oath. It’s about making a lifelong commitment to pursue social and environmental responsibility in and for our real world.” For Jared Duval, a 2005 Graduation Pledge alumnus from Wheaton College in Norton, MA, that commitment translated into becoming the National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC), the nation’s largest student-run environmental organization. His experiences there lead to writing a book, Next Generation Democracy: What the Open-Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics, and Change, published by Bloomsbury in 2010. Other Pledge alums have started their own environmental organizations to address community issues, persuaded their employers to refuse weapons contracts, encouraged more sustainable practices in the workplace or refused to accept job offers from companies with poor environmental and social responsibility track records.
More than 100 participating schools run the gamut from liberal arts colleges (Bates College, Grinnell College) to state universities (Colorado, Florida) to private research universities (George Washington, Stanford) to schools outside the U.S. (Taiwan, Canada). The Pledge is also in professional schools (Culinary Institute of America, Fashion Institute of Technology) and high schools.
The Pledge operates at three levels: students and graduates making choices about their employment; schools educating about values and citizenship rather than only knowledge and skills; and the workplace and society being concerned about more than just the bottom line. The impact is immense, even if only a minority of millions of college graduating each year sign and live out the Pledge.
Mary Munion, a senior at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, is ready for her Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12, where she will be receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Communication. She plans to fulfill her Pledge commitment by pursuing an environmental career in business. “My plan is to go to Law School for Environmental Policy. I really want to work for a large corporation in the environmental department so I can better the quality of the environment and enable big corporations to realize that the actions they take play a huge role on the effects of our environment.” Thousands of students like Munion are taking the Pledge and planning how they will make a positive difference through social and environmental responsibility in the workplace.
The Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) coordinates the Pledge at the national level and is a project of the Bentley University Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility. Sherman Morrison, who serves as the GPA’s Executive Director, noted that, “For the first time in the history of the Graduation Pledge, any student from any school can take the Pledge online through the GPA website.” In the past, the Pledge was only made available to schools that were running an official Pledge program on their campus. “In the digital age, that just doesn’t make sense,” said Morrison. “Besides, students who are motivated enough to take the Pledge online end up being our first contact at potential new Partner Schools, so it’s a win-win strategy for getting the word out.” Information about participating in several different 25th Anniversary activities may be found by visiting the GPA website: www.graduationpledge.org.