About the Project

Our Vision and Mission 

The mission of the Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) is to build a global community of responsible graduates improving society and the environment through the workplace. GPA's vision is a world where every graduate, through the workplace, is an effective leader for social and environmental improvement.

Vision Concepts

  • All students have a chance to develop their concerns and concepts of individual social and environmental responsibility in job decisions so that social and environmental responsibility will be a central consideration of their job choices and on-the-job behavior
  • All graduates possess the ability and the desire to reflect on the social and environmental impacts that they have through the organizations that they belong to, improve the social and environmental aspects of those organizations, and teach others to do the same
  • People contributing to improvement of social and environmental aspects of their organizations participate in, strengthen, and grow strong, vibrant communities that collectively live out their promises to work in socially and environmentally responsible ways and share resources for doing so
  • Educational institutions desire to instill an ethic of commitment and social and environmental responsibility into their students by connecting classroom knowledge to social and environmental issues as well as human values from first year to graduation for all students, so that students can positively impact the world during and after graduation
  • Employers understand that organizations that practice social and environmental responsibility will ultimately be more successful in the long run and thus seek employees who practice social and environmental responsibility in the workplace

Mission Concepts

  • To help create environments in which learning about social and environmental responsibility is the norm
  • To provide graduates with a symbol, the Graduation Pledge, that they can use as a life-long reminder of their commitment to practice social and environmental consciousness in their work, reflect on the social and environmental impacts of their work, practice leadership by improving the social and environmental aspects of their organizations, and teach others to do the same
  • To assist in the building of strong, vibrant communities of support for Pledgers and provide resources for Pledgers living out their pledges
  • To help usher in the transformation of educational institutions toward supporting the development of students with social and environmental consciousness and deploying these students in the form of successful socially- and environmentally-conscious practitioners
  • To help students understand the connections between social and environmental issues, develop their socially- and environmentally-related personal values, and manifest these values while effectively solving complex social and environmental problems through their work


Our Enterprise

The work of the Graduation Pledge Alliance touches many people as well as society and the planet as a whole. Every component of the map below is related to the GPA in some way.


What We and Our Chapters Do

The Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility 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.” Students define for themselves what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible. Students at over a hundred colleges and universities are using the pledge at some level. The schools involved include liberal arts colleges (Whitman and Macalester); state universities (Indiana University and Bloomsburg University), private research universities (Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania), and schools outside the U.S. (Taiwan and Canada). The Pledge is also now found at graduate and professional schools, as well high schools.

(Some have modified the wording to suit the needs of their school.) Taking the Pledge is voluntary. If the commitment is made, it allows students to determine for themselves what they consider to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Instituting the Pledge gets at the heart of a good education and a good educational institution. And, it can benefit society as a whole. 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. In a sense then, the Pledge operates at three levels: students making choices about their employment; schools educating about values and citizenship, rather than only knowledge and skills; and the workplace and society being concerned about more than just the bottom line.

Each year, more than one million students enter the work force. Think of the impact on our society if even a significant minority of applicants and job holders inquired about or attempted to change the ethical practices of their potential or current employers. Or what if applicants turned down jobs and told their potential employers the ethical reasons why they did so? And shouldn’t a job represent more than a paycheck? Shouldn’t it be a place where one can feel good both about his or her own tasks and the general practices of the company?

Setting up the Pledge varies from school to school. At Manchester College, soon-to-be graduates receive an explanatory letter and the basic brochure you are reading now in hard copy or electronic format. Supporters receive a certificate and a wallet-size card that state the Pledge. Typically, around 50 percent of students make the commitment, and they and supportive faculty wear green ribbons (a few schools have chosen a different color ribbon) during commencement, where the pledge appears in the printed program.

To ensure continuity and to make the Pledge a campus-wide project, we have found it beneficial to gain endorsements annually from a wide variety of campus groups. We have a Pledge committee comprised of students, staff and faculty. Continued support from the college is guaranteed by housing the project within an official administrative office or organization. Such actions will assure that the Pledge doesn’t come and go with one dedicated graduating class. The Pledge can be “institutionalized” by including it in the school’s first-year orientation classes, its official literature, or otherwise.

You can help promote the Pledge on campus or elsewhere through Web sites, mailing lists, relevant local or national college-related or political activist groups, the media, public announcements, and friends or colleagues at other schools.

You may find that if you take the lead, others will join your efforts. If necessary, start small — for example, start the project within a department, a division, or an organization until the whole school adopts it. If you are unable to organize at that level yet, take the Pledge yourself or with friends, wear ribbons if you can, and seek publicity. Having public displays or gaining media coverage will further the campaign, no matter its stage of development. (The Pledge has appeared in national media such as The Associated Press, Business Week, USA Today, and The Washington Post.) Such coverage will probably appeal to your school’s administration, which can assert that the Pledge both betters the world and fits within the mission of the institution. However, official adoption by the school is not a necessity for a successful effort.

The Graduation Pledge Alliance is a project of the Bentley University Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility."