Brief Description of the Pledge

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.

Graduates who voluntarily signed the pledge have turned down jobs with which they did not feel comfortable and have worked to make changes once on the job. For example, they have promoted recycling at their organization, removed racist language from a training manual, worked for gender parity in high school athletics, and helped to convince an employer to refuse a chemical weapons-related contract.

Humboldt State University in California initiated the pledge, Manchester College coordinates the campaign effort now, and Bentley College will take over the reigns in the 2007-2008 school year. The project has taken different forms at different institutions. At Manchester, it is a community-wide event involving students, faculty, and staff. Typically, over fifty percent of students sign and keep a wallet-size card stating the pledge, while students and supportive faculty wear green ribbons at commencement. (At a few schools, a different color ribbon is used.) The pledge is printed in the formal commencement program.

Depending upon the school, it might take several years to reach this level of institutionalization. If one can get a few groups/departments involved, and get some media attention on (and off) campus, it will get others interested and build for the future. The project has been covered by newspapers (e.g., USA Today); magazines (e.g., Business Week), national radio networks (for instance, ABC); and local T.V. stations (like in Ft. Wayne, IN)

In a sense, 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. The impact is immense even if only a significant minority of the one million U. S. college graduates each year sign and live out the Pledge.

The Campaign has a web site, ( ). Plus see our under construction newest web site which is geared to graduates in or about to enter the workforce ( -- under construction). PLEASE KEEP US INFORMED OF ANY PLEDGE EFFORTS YOU ARE EVEN CONSIDERING TO UNDERTAKE, AS WE TRY TO MONITOR WHAT IS HAPPENING, AND PROVIDE PERIODIC UPDATES ON THE NATIONAL EFFORT (INCLUDING HINTS ON HAVING A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN). Contact for information/questions/comments.

Neil Wollman; Ph. D.; Senior Fellow, Peace Studies Institute; Professor of Psychology; Manchester College, North Manchester, IN 46962;; 260-982-5346; fax 260-982-5043