Graduation Pledge Supporters Seek
Socially, Environmentally Friendly Jobs
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – At colleges and
universities across the nation, new grads are taking a pledge to
seek environmentally and socially responsible jobs. They are
sporting bright green ribbons on their commencement gowns, and,
despite a difficult job market, may even turn down job opportunities
to fulfill their Graduation Pledge.
Graduates and universities large and small are
promising that once on their new jobs, they will champion
environmental and social responsibility. That could be as basic as
starting or supporting a paper recycling program, or as bold as
lobbying their CEO to refuse a chemical weapons-related contract.
The Graduation Pledge Alliance is what the ribbon-wearers make of
it; it’s an individual voluntary decision. They work on company
wellness programs, help re-write employee manuals and coordinate
diversity programs and food drives.
"Instituting the pledge gets at the heart of a good
education and can benefit society as whole," says Dr. Neil J.
Wollman, coordinator of the Alliance, which is based at Manchester
College in northeast Indiana. "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."
The pledge has grown since Manchester College became
the national headquarters in 1996 under Wollman’s leadership.
Students from 130 campuses, ranging from small colleges such as
Olivet and Skidmore to the powerhouse Harvard and Stanford
universities are supporting the pledge this year, up from the
handful six years ago. At least half the eight Ivy League campuses
are on board and now the pledge is in several other countries.
Humboldt State University in California created the
Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, which
“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.”
The pledge ranks now include some high schools and
graduate schools, and universities and schools overseas. Those who
take the pledge carry it on a wallet-sized card. At many
universities, the pledge appears in commencement programs.
“Think of the impact if even a significant minority
of the 1 million college graduates each year sign and carry out the
Pledge,” says Wollman. “Or what if applicants turned down jobs and
told their potential employers the ethical reasons why they did so?”
Although 2000 Harvard University grad Sinead Walsh
never considered herself the "environmental type," the pledge led
her to bring about change. "I started making changes in my life,
such as turning off lights, trying to reuse and recycle," she says.
Sinead, a native of Dublin, Ireland, is in Rwanda working with
Population Services International. She organized the pledge at
Harvard during her senior year.
For Dana Nixon, who took the pledge seven years ago
at Manchester College, it’s about making a difference. "It is a
pledge to be a responsible citizen of the globe," she says. "It lets
people know that decisions they make – even career choice – can make
a serious impact on or for the environment."
The independent, liberal arts Manchester College is
located in North Manchester in northeast Indiana. It is a college of
the Church of the Brethren, and offers more than 45 areas of study
to more than 1,140 students from 22 states and 29 countries.
Ninety-five percent of Manchester College graduates find employment
within six months of commencement. To learn more about the college,
visit its web site at www.manchester.edu. To learn more about the
Graduation Pledge Alliance, contact Wollman at