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Sustainable Paths

Report Documents Student Interest in Activism and Environment

Environmental issues remain a core concern of today’s college students—and student activism is on the rise—according to the recently released The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends 1966-2015. This report was produced by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, which has been surveying incoming college freshmen annually to document trends in demographics and students’ plans and priorities.

The 2015 survey showed that 40 percent of students—an all-time high—identified becoming a community leader as either “very important” or “essential” life goals. Additionally, 40 percent of students gave staying politically informed the same rating. Goals of promoting racial understanding and building cultural-awareness of other countries also reached all-time highs. Issues of equity often intersect with sustainability. In 2014, 67 percent of students agreed that the federal government should prioritize policies relating to climate change. A majority of students indicated that the federal government could do more to address pollution, and 41 percent of students felt strongly about adopting “green” practices to protect the environment. While interest in any specific topic may ebb and flow over five decades, the report shows that issues of sustainability are a consistent priority for many of today’s college students.

Jeremy McGeorge specializes in serving families whose children need therapeutic services as part of their educational plan. He is also Bertram's point person on sustainable education. He can be reached at