“If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do now. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones. The Amish question ‘What will this do for our community?’ tends toward the right answer for the world.” --Wendell Berry

Energy is the dominant global force that encourages economic growth and exacerbates environmental degradation. We exist in a world where the prevailing political, economic, and social systems have been constructed around the availability of cheap, abundant energy. As the fossil fuels age draws to a close, however, we are confronted with an inevitable decline in global oil production. While elected leaders all over the political spectrum are touting energy independence as a critical national security issue, a worldwide economic recession is prompting us to re-examine our ideas about consumption, and global warming is prodding us to question our relationship to the natural world.

Energy policies that once concerned only corporations and environmental activists now seem increasingly relevant to all of us. Greenhouse gas inventories and carbon footprints have become routine parts of doing good business. On an individual level, the decisions we make today about energy production, consumption, and conservation will have significant and lasting impacts on the world of tomorrow. Are we prepared to face these challenges at Hartwick, in our own lives, and on national and global levels?

The “Energy” Academic Theme will challenge the Hartwick community to come together to consider energy issues from local to international levels throughout the 2009-10 academic year. The Energy theme seeks to engage the entire campus in questioning our patterns of energy use and applying lessons learned to enhancing energy conservation on campus, in our homes, and in the regional community. Over the course of the year, the Energy Academic Theme plans to:

  • Educate Hartwick about fossil fuels, peak oil, and the merits of alternative energy sources
  • Launch Hartwick Unplugged!, a campus-wide effort to reduce energy use and save money
  • Enable students, faculty, and staff to audit their energy consumption
  • Connect Hartwick’s carbon footprint to the effects of global climate change
  • Promote energy conservation and energy efficiency as mechanisms for reducing costs
  • Involve the campus and regional community in efforts to reduce their ecological impact
  • Address local and regional energy topics such as natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which lies underneath the southern tier of New York, and the efficacy of wind and solar power
  • And more…

Interested in energy issues? We welcome additional committee members. For more information or to volunteer to serve on the Theme Committee, contact the Pine Lake Institute at

Academic Theme Committee
Brian Hagenbuch, Director, Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Mark Davies, Chair and Associate Professor of Education
Karl Seeley, Associate Professor of Economics
Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad, Assistant Professor of Geology/Chemistry
Elizabeth Orgeron, Director, Stevens-German Library
Molly Harper '12
Elliot Henry '12
Kimberley LaMora '12
Dan Morse, Pine Lake Program/Sustainability Coordinator
Peter Blue, Pine Lake Resident Manager