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Graduates Commit to Building a Healthy, Sustainable, and Just World
Once again this year, tens of thousands of students around the globe will be signing the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. Even in the face of our current economic challenges, these students are committing to consider how their work will impact our world.
Currently headquartered at Bentley University, the Graduation Pledge, which originated in 1987 at Humboldt State University in California, states: “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.”
Over the years, hundreds of high school, college, and university campuses throughout the world have participated in the Graduation Pledge Alliance’s annual signing ceremonies. Now a project of the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility, the Graduation Pledge Alliance builds and supports a global community of graduates committed to improving the social and environmental aspects of the world they live in.
As Benjamin Crim, a 2013 accounting major graduate from Manchester University states, “I am taking the GPA pledge because I believe that making good business decisions is, and should be, more than just looking at the monetary cost of my actions. As an accounting major, taking into consideration the societal and environmental impact of choices that I make will be difficult. Pressure to ignore environmental and societal costs in favor of profits will be strong, but I recognize that it is important to value any benefits and consequences to society and the environment whenever I am making decisions.”
One example of a graduate living out the pledge is Michael Waas Smith, who is the Global Vice President for TerraCycle, Inc., a company that provides free waste collection programs for hard to recycle materials and then turns the waste into affordable green products. A former pledge signer at Central Michigan University, Michael also serves as a member of the Graduation Pledge Alliance Executive Committee.
Another graduate, Chris Sequeira (who brought the Pledge to MIT and is a former President of the Graduation Pledge Alliance) states that “the text of the Graduation Pledge calls us all to be leaders in our work environments and within ourselves. It calls us to look holistically at how we impact the world through our work. I have a card with the Graduation Pledge text in my wallet, which reminds me daily that I can make positive changes in the world if I work in socially and environmentally responsible ways.”
"Instituting the pledge gets at the heart of a good education and can benefit society as whole," says Neil Wollman, a Senior Fellow at the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility and the former Graduation Pledge Alliance coordinator when it was housed at Manchester University. Dr. Wollman adds “Not only does it remind students of the ethical implications of the knowledge and training they received, but it can help lead to a socially-conscious citizenry and a better world.”
Matt Nicodemus, a co-founder of the Pledge at Humboldt State University, states that his original vision was that “colleges across America will be handing out the pledge and graduates will be adhering to it.” Today, that vision is more than a reality with campuses as far away as Taiwan adopting the Pledge. Matt is still a vital part of the Graduation Pledge Alliance, serving on the Executive Committee and reaching out to campuses around the world to help them implement the Graduation Pledge.
Reflecting on the role of the Pledge at Bentley, Tony Buono, coordinator of the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility, noted that reading student reflections on their activities in preparation to taking the pledge prior to Baccalaureate was “inspiring.” “We ask students to look back on what they have taken away from their efforts both on campus and in the wider community, in essence, thinking about how they have evolved as civic leaders. Being part of the pledge program has been a transformative experience for many of our students – they are entering the workforce as talented professionals with a true commitment to making the world a better place.”
For additional information:
- Dr. Anthony F. Buono, Coordinator, Bentley Alliance for Ethics & Social Responsibility, Professor of Management & Sociology: ABUONO@bentley.edu, 781-891-2529
- Bill Benet, Executive Director, Graduation Pledge Alliance: email@example.com, 585-271-8178
Graduation Pledge Alliance Executive Committee
- Neil Wollman: firstname.lastname@example.org, 260-568-0116
- Matt Nicodemus: email@example.com, 303-444-6267
- Michael Waas Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org, 989-621-8068
- Scott Carlin: Scott.Carlin@liu.edu, 631-728-6842
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.