Explanation of the Pledge Project

Pledge Project Explained!!!

"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."

Brief Description of the Pledge

Opportunities to help on the national pledge project...


Pledge Project Explained !!!

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, 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.

If you are working on a campaign at your school, please keep us informed so we can keep track of the effort. E-mail: smasters@bentley.edu

After considering the social and environmental aspects of potential jobs, some have turned down possible positions with which they did not feel morally comfortable. Other times, Pledge signers have made changes on the job.

Manchester College has learned of inspiring examples of its graduates. "I told my boss of the Pledge and my concerns. He understood and agreed ... and the company did not pursue the (chemical weapons related) project."

Others have done such things as establishing recycling programs at their business, pushing for greater involvement of women in athletics at a high school workplace, eliminating racist language in a training manual, and trying to make an agency's conflict resolution services available to underserved populations. There are even some cases of non-pledge signers whose job searching was influenced.

The Pledge can be carried out in many different ways. Examples of graduates following the Pledge are most welcome.

Taking the Pledge is a serious commitment to contemplation and action. Carrying out the Pledge will be more successful if efforts are made to remind Pledge signers of their commitment (e.g., occasional stories or notices in alumni magazines or mailings, a separate GPA newsletter, or a listserve of Pledge signers). Also, if at all possible, give the Pledge signers information that will assist them in carrying out the Pledge (e.g., how to search for socially and environmentally responsible jobs, questions to ask employers when job searching, and how to make positive changes on the job). The Pledge Web site (here) has a "one page handout for graduating seniors" that provides some of these ideas as well as full details on such concerns. Also included: "Questions to ask employers," "Steps for building support for and participation in the Pledge campaign," and Web links to socially responsible job banks. Pledge cards may be downloaded and printed from the Web site.

For those already in the work force, also see www.E-xplore.org for ideas on being socially responsible on the job and in the community and world.

Web sites:

E-mail: smasters@bentley.edu