Welcome to the Office of Sustainability
The University of Maine’s deep-rooted dedication to sustainability began in 1865 with its establishment as Maine’s flagship Land Grant institution. Its greatest contribution towards sustainability is through its dedicated interdisciplinary teaching programs that strive to inspire core sustainability values in all its graduates. One of UMaine’s goals is to inspire students to become the next generation of environmental leaders and innovators, skilled in ways that promote responsible stewardship of human, natural, and financial resources.
UMaine’s world-renowned research programs contribute cutting-edge knowledge at local, national, and international levels, knowledge that is used to protect and enhance the health and well-being of humans and ecosystems. UMaine’s ongoing outreach efforts engage the expertise of the university community to address the ecological and social challenges that we face now and in the future. The University of Maine’s comprehensive sustainability efforts improve lives and communities throughout the state of Maine and beyond.
Earth, Our Home
Humanity is part of a vast evolving universe. Earth, our home, is alive with a unique community of life. The forces of nature make existence a demanding and uncertain adventure, but Earth has provided the conditions essential to life’s evolution. The resilience of the community of life and the well-being of humanity depend upon preserving a healthy biosphere with all its ecological systems, a rich variety of plants and animals, fertile soils, pure waters, and clean air. The global environment with its finite resources is a common concern of all peoples. The protection of Earth’s vitality, diversity, and beauty is a sacred trust.
The Global Situation
The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Injustice, poverty, ignorance, and violent conflict are widespread and the cause of great suffering. An unprecedented rise in human population has overburdened ecological and social systems. The foundations of global security are threatened. These trends are perilous—but not inevitable.
We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
From The Earth Charter
What do we mean when we talk about sustainability? There are many ways to define it, but they all reflect a simple truth. We’re a species of unlimited appetites living on a planet with limited resources. Our population, our wealth, and our expectations have all grown dramatically in recent decades, while the Earth, if anything, has grown smaller as our technological reach has drawn us closer together. We can no more turn our backs on the progress of the past century than we can create a larger planet. But that doesn’t mean we’re without hope. Indeed, it is hope, together with determination, creativity, and innovation, that we need most now.
“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”
“Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”
~ Carl Sagan