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Previous Page | Press Release 2003

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 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.”

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 To learn more about the Graduation Pledge Alliance, contact Wollman at


GPA, MC Box 135, Manchester College, 604 E. College Ave., North Manchester, IN 46962, or send e-mail to:

This site last updated on May 20, 2003.
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