GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 1st Update for 2005-2006

Hello Graduation Pledge organizers:

I wish you well for this (relatively) new school year and especially for another year in improving your Pledge effort. As always, we hope you will take things up another notch—or more.

But first: especially if you are not quite ready to start at your school, I hope you will take a few minutes to promote the Pledge at the national level. Below is an introductory message about it. Send it along to friends/collogues at other schools-–along with a small personal endorsement. Posting to listservs or web sites or newsletters really helps, too. Thanks.

Let me briefly note a few new developments:

▪ We will conduct a pilot project this year involving a field rep who will be in contact with participating schools in our Midwest region. The goal is to build up/institutionalize the Pledge where it already exists.

▪ We continue to make progress on constructing our web site (take a glance to see some of the basic components, even now). It is intended for Pledge signers who want a place they can go to over the years for resources, conversation, etc. to carry out the pledge—and take it a step further. We hope to have it in good form by spring some time. Send your suggestions.

▪ Preparations are underway for a 2007 twenty-year anniversary celebration/conference for the Pledge. The organizer and host will be Humboldt State University in California (the originator of the Pledge). Humboldt is beginning to take a larger role, again, on the project. If you have suggestions or want to get involved, let me know.

▪ A summer retreat of some central Pledge organizers has led us to reconsider some aspects of our goals, structure, and decision-making. More details later—if you want to become involved in this process, let me know.

We can use your input on the following concerns, as well:

1. How do you feel about the new look of the Pledge web site


2. Who is your 2005-2006 Pledge contact? (a few schools still have not given us that info—or even a 2004-2005 school year report on your activities!)

3. If you have a GPA web site of your own—or even just a brief mention at your school's web site—please let me know. That way we can link to you as we do for others on the national web site’s list of participating schools (and please link to our web site!).

4. We would like to add/change some of the photos we currently on the web site displaying Pledge activities at participating schools. We are especially looking for photos that don't just focus on the actual graduation and wearing of green ribbons. Let us know what you have, especially digitalized photos.

5. We can use reports/anecdotes about 2005 (or earlier) graduates carrying out the Pledge. 

That’s it. Good luck for this year.


Neil J. Wollman

Senior Fellow, The Peace Studies Institute

National Coordinator, The Graduation Pledge Alliance

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN  46962


PS. If you are a sociology student or such students are working on the pledge, let me know ASAP. We might be able to get into a book. Also, see the request below from Greenpeace.


Humboldt State University (California) initiated the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility. It 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 have used the pledge at some level. The schools involved include small liberal arts colleges (Colgate and Macalester); large state universities (Oregon and Utah), and large private research universities (University of Pennsylvania and Duke). The Pledge is also now found at graduate and professional schools, high schools , and schools overseas (Taiwan and Australia).

Graduates who voluntarily signed the pledge have turned down jobs with which they did not feel morally 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.

Manchester College now coordinates the campaign effort, which 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. 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 in newspapers (e.g., USA Today, Washington Post, Associated Press, and Chronicle of Higher Education); 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 college graduates each year sign and live out the Pledge.


The Greenpeace Organizing Term (GOT) is an action-filled semester and the best hands-on training for students who want to become environmental leaders. It's an investment in leadership skills for the long haul. Students get over 50 trainings in grassroots organizing, media, direct action, and campaign strategy. Students travel abroad with Greenpeace to meet global environmental leaders.

The early application deadline is Friday, October 7th. The second deadline is two weeks later. To learn more and to apply, visit

For more information read below or contact me at 202-319-2436 or

For a green and peaceful future,

Phil Radford

Grassroots Director

Greenpeace USA