Author: Isabel Crews
During sustainability week, students had the opportunity to vote for the Center for Sustainable Development’s sustain/solves theme. The three options were from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land, Health and Wellbeing, and Decent Work and Economic Growth. After counting all the votes, students had chosen The United Nations’ third sustainable development goal which focuses on health. The World Health Organisation defines this as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively effected global health and highlighted chasms in health systems and outcomes across the globe. The UN notes that as a result of COVID-19, which has infected more than 500 million people worldwide, there has been an increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression, a decrease in the global life expectancy, decreases in immunization coverage, and deaths of both civilians and especially healthcare workers.
On a smaller scale, what will this look like on the College of Charleston’s campus? Throughout the semester, we will be hosting programs to address different local and global issues related to good health and wellbeing. A vegan nutrition event will be held in September to educate students on how to fuel their bodies and minds. “SustainFest” on September 1st will focus around the theme with community members in sustainability-work tabling to talk and share information with attendees. The Stono-Preserve Native Planting event in December is a way for participants to immerse themselves in nature, garden, and learn about the preserve. Native plants are crucial to the environment, and are thus crucial to human and animal life. Returning this year, the CSD Social Justice Coffee Hour will relate to an issue within this UN Sustainable Development Goal. This is not however where the work stops. This is simply the starting point for CofC to focus on Good Health & Wellbeing, even outside of this year.
Other colleges and universities have set good examples for CofC, with some participating in what is called the “Okanagan Charter.” The Okanagan Charter is “[a]n International Charter for Health Promoting University and Colleges, which calls upon post-secondary schools to embed health into all aspects of campus culture and to lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally.” The purpose of the charter is to:
- Guide and inspire action by providing a framework that reflects the latest concepts, processes and principles relevant to the Health Promoting Universities and Colleges movement, building upon advances since the 2005 Edmonton Charter.
- Generate dialogue and research that expands local, regional, national and international networks and accelerates action on, off and between campuses.
- Mobilize international, cross-sector action for the integration of health in all policies and practices, thus advancing the continued development of health promoting universities and colleges.
The Okanagan Charter and the work being done by schools implementing it is a vision for what this year’s theme means for CofC’s campus. Hosting events highlighting this theme, working with community members, and benefiting from the dedication of CofC’s hardworking and outstanding students, will ensure the long-term implementation of the 2022-2023 Sustain/Solves theme, Good Health and Wellbeing, further enriching the fabric of the College of Charleston’s culture.
Cover photo by Nadezhda Moryak from Pexels.