Since its founding, Penn State has repeatedly answered the call to address societal challenges by recognizing turning points in history and seizing the opportunity to run at the vanguard of innovation in teaching, research, and service. Students learned how to ensure food security by increasing yields in the 19th century. University leadership ensured access to higher education through a System of Commonwealth Campuses in the 20th century. Over the past century and a half, Penn State has grown to twenty-four campuses throughout the Commonwealth, and we have become one of the most comprehensive institutions in the country, offering nearly every ﬁeld of study in higher education. The entire Penn State community is ensuring the generation and dissemination of knowledge, skills, and values in the 21st century.
Today, we face the global challenge of sustainability, and Penn State is again answering the call as its faculty, staff, students, and communities race to solve some of the toughest problems in history, from feeding a growing population to protecting a threatened environment to ensuring energy security. Our commitment to sustainability arises from three interconnected scientific and ethical principles:
Principle 1: The recognition of the fundamental ethical right of all humans, both now and in the future, to basic needs such as healthy food, clean water, dependable healthcare, a living wage, and affordable education
Principle 2: A scientific appreciation of the interconnections between human prosperity and ecological health
Principle 3: The necessity of providing the economic means for addressing human needs and supporting human flourishing, while ensuring the long-term health of ecosystems
To remain vibrant and true to our purpose, the University must again transform how it pursues its mission. Penn State must provide an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking and develops our capacity to account for the ethical, environmental, and economic outcomes of our decisions—an immersive education in sustainability.