By Erica Rakowicz

Sustainability cannot be pinned down to one specific effort, like recycling. It is more of a concept, one of which Madonna plans to implement into daily curriculum in the near future.

“Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations,” explains the United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) website.

“It’s more than just putting cans and bottles away,” said David Houle, Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management, Business Office.

Continuity needs to be clear in regard to plan for Madonna’s curriculum. The administration staff is still waiting to align initiatives and values with a new sustainable outlook on course work.

Houle is surprised it’s taken so long to pass the idea through the administration but he understands the desire to have something concrete to refer back to during initial program takeoff.

For further implementation and break-through beginnings, Madonna needs to congregate with a larger committee in order to work a sustainable ideal through all curriculums.

There are four basic components of sustainability and a new curriculum would need to incorporate all four to follow through with continuity.

The four domains to sustainable systems and sustainable living are: economics, ecology, culture and politics. Houle plans to amplify current curriculum themes with these domains to fully grip onto the idea of a better Madonna.

Madonna and its virtues, respect for the dignity of each person, peace and justice, reverence for creation and education for truth and service, relate to EPA and its plans for future generations through prevention.

“In its early years, EPA acted primarily as the nation’s environmental watchdog, striving to ensure that industries met legal requirements to control pollution. In subsequent years, EPA began to develop theory, tools, and practices that enabled it to move from controlling pollution to preventing it,” said EPA’s website.

Madonna has been swirling with ideas, especially since the Sustainability Conference in October 2012.

In economics classes, Houle mentioned a possible sustainable discussion during topics of growth. In nursing classes, sustainable programs could create many new opportunities.

Medical waste is a large issue in the environmental community, especially when the Pacific Ocean seems to wash up needles and other garbage like rafts. Houle suggested a reevaluation of medical tools and products in the nursing program. There are environmentally friendly options available out there and Madonna’s nursing program could take advantage of the alternatives.

On the recycling side of things, both the University of Vermont and the city of Concord, Massachusetts banned the sale of bottled water in 2013.

The environmental efforts of students and lobbyists are respected by water distributors, but ultimately deemed fleeting. Distributors find the idea of ruling out plastic water bottles too grand to be permanent, especially because it limits free will.

As a way to help the environment and continue on with business, Absopure Water Company created an alternative to both eliminating plastic water bottles forever and continuing to pile up waste by establishing an Eco-Pak.

Each bottle in the Eco-Pak contains at least 10 percent of recycled material, according to

Houle has been keeping tabs on these different ways of sustainability implementation, but Madonna will have an individual and tailored program in order to remain true to the university’s principles.

Houle anticipates the sustainable curriculum plan to rise at the end of this school year or the beginning of next.

Visit for more information on sustainable systems.


Sustainability plan in the works