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News Release

Moravian to Focus on Issues of Sustainability in 2012-13

Innovative program promotes in-depth examination of complex issues

INFOCUS LogoBethlehem, Pa., August 31, 2012 –Throughout the academic year, Moravian students will benefit from an opportunity to be part of an innovative program in sustainability that involves classroom activities and faculty-student scholarship focused on creating change on campus and in the broader community. It’s part of Moravian’s IN FOCUS program that examines one of four rotating issues that have been identified as central to the Lehigh Valley, the U.S. and the globe. They include poverty and inequality (last year’s topic), sustainability, health care, and war and peace. Each year academic and co-curricular activity centers on one of these challenges.

Sustainability was first defined in the 1980s by the U.N.’s World Commission on Environment and Development as: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the decades since, globalization has intensified along with its negative environmental and social impacts. Today, the growing consensus is that sustainable development must be less resource-intensive and less polluting and result in a more equitable distribution of wealth and education opportunities. Sustainability is a complex topic—much more than simple recycling and energy conservation.

This year’s common reading was Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber, in which the ecologist author investigates the links between cancer and environmental toxins. The author spoke to the freshmen class during orientation. She strengthens the case for banning poisons that pervade our air, our food and our bodies. She says that saving the planet becomes a matter of saving ourselves and an issue of human rights. The documentary film about the book will be shown in the fall as part of the IN FOCUS film series.

Diane Husic, professor and chair of the department of biological sciences, and Don St. John, professor of religion, serve as this year’s directors of the centers for investigation for IN FOCUS, and have been planning curricular and co-curricular events for the coming year. They have adopted the comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to sustainability found in The Earth Charter, which has spawned “The Earth Charter Initiative.”

They write: Finalized in 2000, the charter is a “declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century” that connects beautifully to the other three themes of the IN FOCUS series given its focus on these key areas: respect and care for the community of life; ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence and peace.


IN FOCUS is an innovative program to promote in-depth examination of complex issues from multidisciplinary perspectives. Through IN FOCUS the members of the Moravian College community engage in analysis and activism regarding important challenges facing human beings and the world in the 21st century.

Four issues have been identified as central to the Lehigh Valley, the US and the globe, including poverty and inequality, sustainability, health care, and war and peace. Each year academic and co-curricular activity will center on one of these challenges.

Our goal is for Moravian College, Moravian Theological Seminary, and the Comenius Center to realize the promise of becoming known as an institution that engages its students in the study of important issues that challenge humanity today and as we look to the future. Through grappling with complex problems, and examining them from several different perspectives Moravian’s graduates will be better prepared to contribute to a just society and a vibrant democracy.

Visit the IN FOCUS page on the website for more detailed information about sustainability, an expanded explanation of The Earth Charter, Steingraber’s book and other samples of her writing, programming and more.