Text: TCU’s Office of General Affairs
Photo: The Executive Yuan
Translation: J.B. Willis, Steve J. Lin
On December 28, 2018, the Executive Yuan presented 2018 National Sustainable Development Awards to twelve institutions for their great efforts in sustainability practices. The awards were given to three educational institutions, among them TCU, the only one in eastern Taiwan to receive this award. TCU President Pen-Jung Wang accepted the award on behalf of the university.
President Wang pointed out that sustainable development is a mission for educational institutions, and education plays a major role for shaping humanity’s future. For the past 24 years, TCU has been guided by Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s educational principles, to place sustainable development as one of the university’s top priorities. We view sustainable development broadly. In addition to instilling skills and knowledge, TCU creates a fine learning environment for students, and faculty members teach students by their personal examples. Thus, TCU has gradually built up many fine traditions. TCU students are very fortunate to have role models to look up to, such as Tzu Chi volunteers, Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te dads and moms, silent mentors, etc., so they are able to observe their encounters and choose to face them mindfully.
The awards are open to educational institutions, private businesses, NGOs and government agencies. The annual honors highlight the institutions’ efforts to perpetuate a culture of sustainability, and carry out needed practices. Hopefully the concepts and practices of sustainability development can be spread throughout our society. All award recipients are renowned institutions in Taiwan.
We pay special attention to the university’s structures and the application of processes environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Thus, 70% of the two campuses is either covered by permeable paving, which is a method of paving vehicle and pedestrian pathways that allows for infiltration of fluids, or has planted trees, grasses, etc. Moreover, TCU has built rainwater recovery systems, rooftop gardens, pollution prevention facilities, energy management systems, solar power generation equipment, wind power generators, etc. For enhancing the awareness of environmental sustainability, 8% of the university’s classes are related to environmental sustainability, and TCU sponsors more than 70 related activities every year. To reduce wastes, TCU encourages faculty members, staff and students to use their own reusable utensils, when having meals or attending any activities, and does not allow use of any disposable utensils. As a result, wastes are significantly reduced and the recycling ratio has reached around 50%.
Sustainability is the process of maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, direction of investments, orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony, and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. For many in the field, sustainability is defined through the following interconnected domains or pillars: environmental, economic, and social. Sub-domains of sustainable development have also been considered: cultural, technological and political. TCU offers the Silent Mentor Program for medical students to learn anatomy, and service-learning classes to freshmen for them to extend their love to serve people in the community. To enhance its university social responsibility (USR), TCU provides classes for students to work with local farmers and learn how to plant organic vegetables and fruits. TCU has received numerous awards from government agencies for its outstanding performance in character education, volunteer services overseas, Higher Education Sprout Project, and USR Project. Other than these, TCU participated in the Green Metric World University Ranking, for the first time in 2017, and won 200th place. In 2018 TCU advanced to 155th place, which is 12th place in Taiwan, and first in eastern Taiwan.
TCU is very happy to receive this award. We are grateful for great support from Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the Board of Directors, and Tzu Chi volunteers around the world; moreover, we deeply appreciate continuous efforts of our faculty members, staff and students. We are committed to implementing environmentally friendly practices. Specifically, we will conserve energy as much as we can, maintain a safe and environmentally friendly environment, and work with local communities and domestic and international organizations to enhance sustainability development.