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Jonathan Lash
Jonathan Lash is president of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, a liberal arts college known for educational innovation, particularly in the areas of sustainability, social change, creativity, and entrepreneurship. He served previously as president of World Resources Institute (WRI), senior staff attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and as a Peace Corps volunteer and trainer. An internationally recognized environmental leader, he chaired the President’s Council on Sustainable Development for Bill Clinton, and led Vermont’s environmental program under Governor Madeleine Kunin.

Entries by Jonathan Lash

The Healthy Food Transition

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2014 | 4:10 PM

In my last post I promised to share some examples for reaching minds through food. Please indulge me on two points: I am of necessity using my own institution as a case study, as it's work I can document. And I can only skim the surface, as these...

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Food for Thought

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2014 | 10:28 AM

Students think about food. The type of thought may vary by age, personal circumstance, setting, or institutional mission, but food is an essential interest in every learner's life. Something so universally important offers rich opportunities for interdisciplinary learning.

Food served on a campus conveys values: Do we value healthy, tasty,...

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Educating for Change

(2) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 11:05 PM

Here we are, midway into the second decade of the 21st century and growing ever closer, by connection if not through understanding. Money, goods, ideas and images flow freely across borders, creating both acquaintance and conflict.

The pace of change is accelerating. By one estimate, the amount of new technical...

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Rigor in the Admissions Process

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Without SAT/ACT scores, and recognizing that grades are not a true measure of learning, how does a selective college make admissions decisions?

We evaluate applicants the same way they'll be evaluated as students -- through a narrative of effort, accomplishment, and growth. We look at their ability to present themselves...

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Test-blind and Rigorous

(1) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 11:40 AM

Students are not simply vessels into which knowledge is poured, and authentic academic rigor implies engagement and effort on the part of the learner. My last post explored how grades can discourage intellectual risk-taking and inhibit curiosity. I turn now to a pernicious way we fail learners by...

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Do Grades Really Reflect Rigor?

(6) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 5:27 PM

I work for an institution that, with full board support, questions conventional wisdom in all aspects of pedagogy and operations. Not all college presidents are so fortunate. My next few posts here will explore questions related to unconventional approaches and academic rigor. I hope to debunk some common myths and...

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Mission Is the Core Commitment

(1) Comments | Posted October 2, 2014 | 1:58 PM

On any given day you can find a news story about the challenges that changing demographics and revenue pose to higher education, particularly residential liberal arts colleges. Those pressures are real, and I don't mean to diminish them, but they do offer small colleges an opportunity to think about who...

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Nelson Mandela, A Moral Educator

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 11:50 AM

Today, as the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela, his legacy of combining resistance and strength in the face of oppression with courageous insistence on reconciliation inspires us. Nelson Mandela turned a history of pain and injustice into a remarkable lesson in the power of love. After what he...

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It's About the Future

(2) Comments | Posted October 24, 2012 | 12:23 PM

U.S. colleges and universities invest a lot of money. We need to think about the future we are investing in.

America has the world's best system of higher education. It is widely available. Its graduates have much higher incomes and lower joblessness than those who do not graduate from college....

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Access to Higher Education as a Deep Principle

(4) Comments | Posted September 5, 2012 | 2:00 PM

This is the time of a beautiful and encouraging autumnal ritual. Students arrive on campus for the opening of a new academic year, filled with promise and expectations. As many as 21 million will attend state, community, and private colleges in the United States this fall, all part of a...

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On Global Warming: Trust but Verify

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2009 | 6:24 PM

As the nations of the world assemble in Copenhagen next week to complete the first step toward a binding agreement to confront climate change, naysayers are running out of reasons to delay or deny progress. The United States and China, which account for some forty percent of global greenhouse...

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It Doesn't Get Bigger Than This

(2) Comments | Posted May 14, 2009 | 3:32 PM

The world economy, the future of the financial system, the rebuilding of a nation's infrastructure. Nothing small, it seems, gets done in Washington these days. But the recent meeting of 17 major economies, hosted by the State Department, produced the start of real progress on perhaps the biggest challenge yet....

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When A Tree Falls Illegally In The Forest

(0) Comments | Posted January 12, 2009 | 10:10 AM

Soon, everybody may hear. The world's first ban on illegal wood imports could be a breakthrough on climate change.

One of the most interesting and overlooked environmental victories in 2008 came in the form of an amendment to a 100-year old U.S. statute. The Lacey Act, as it is...

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A Different World Than Kyoto

(0) Comments | Posted December 27, 2008 | 6:28 PM

With the target date for the Kyoto Protocol's successor agreement still a year away, and a lame duck U.S. delegation in attendance, nobody expected a watershed moment at the recently concluded climate change conference (COP-14) in Poznan, Poland. While delegates made modest progress on some key issues, the real...

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Growing the Wealth of the World's Poor

(4) Comments | Posted December 17, 2008 | 7:06 PM

Co-written with Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, UN Under-Secretary General

The food crises of the present will seem as nothing to those of the future unless the world brings some urgency and intelligence to managing the planet's nature-based assets.

When world leaders gathered at the UN headquarters in New...

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Mayors "Get It" on Climate Change

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2008 | 7:10 PM

Ironically, the most ambitious U.S. action in the fight against global warming is coming from big cities and their mayors.

It seems preposterous on its face. Each city's emissions are only a tiny fraction of the global pie. Cities can't force utilities to shift to renewables, or make Detroit produce...

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The (Really) Big Picture on Energy Policy

(1) Comments | Posted September 26, 2008 | 7:28 PM

After a brutal summer of volatile fuel prices and hyper-partisan politics, Congress's latest attempt at cogent energy policy came up frustratingly short. In the end, the Senate "gang of 20" effort stalled, and the House passed a "compromise" package primarily intended to ease pain at the pump by...

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China's Climate Change Playbook is Worth Reading

(11) Comments | Posted July 23, 2008 | 3:38 PM

In a few weeks, elite athletes from around the world will gather in Beijing. Press coverage of the Games is likely to highlight competition between America and China about which will win the most medals. Media coverage will also -- as it has already -- focus on air quality...

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