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DEFINING

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainable Business Magazine sits down with the Associate Chancellor for Sustainability at The University of Illinois at Chicago, Cynthia Klein-Banai, to discuss the development and implementation of sustainable practices and how programs and initiatives are getting students actively engaged with sustainability. Written by Thomas Massey.

Dr. Klein-Banai founded the Office of Sustainability at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2008. As founder of the Office of Sustainability Dr. Klein-Banai has played a pivotal role in implementing measures that promote sustainability. One of her most crucial contributions has been to help UIC clarify its stance on sustainability

and give that stance a true definition. Dr. Klein-Banai explains that this was the first of many challenges that her role has presented. “Shortly after my office was formed, we started having meetings with the Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy. One of the first things we did was develop a definition of sustainability to take

to the faculty senate. The senate however saw it more as a definition of environmental sustainability. It was basically that we wanted to integrate sustainability into all our operations and be as sustainable as we could, but it was rather a vague definition.” INTEGRATING SUSTAINABLE VALUES Since those early stages of deciding what exactly defines environmental sustainability, Dr. Klein-Banai has worked tirelessly to expand what the university sees as sustainability issues. One of the keys to her success at UIC has been her policy of closely examining what is already in place at the university that can meet a broader definition of sustainability, not just an environmental one. Using this approach, and with the help of other offices, faculty, students, and administration, she has helped to broaden the range of issues that the university considers to be sustainability related. “We did it through an engagement process” Dr. Klein-Banai explains, the question we asked was “what are the things that we already SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Sustainable Business Magazine  

Issue 02/14

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