Statement Introduced by the Faculty of the Department of Sustainable Development

Statement Introduced by the Faculty of the Department of Sustainable Development

April 10, 2017

The Appalachian State University faculty are committed to advancing knowledge, providing high-quality education, and contributing to a just, healthy, and sustainable future. For centuries, advances in academic inquiry have contributed to our understanding to support the stewardship of our world in the face of increasing human impact on the environment. We remain committed to unrestricted scientific inquiry, open and transparent discourse, and evidence-based policy-making. Challenges at any time from governmental actions or policy changes are viewed as counterproductive to this commitment.  Our mission as a public institution of higher education includes our commitment to protecting evidence-based inquiry and its ethical application.

Any effort to undermine discovery-based research and its responsible application to social and ecological problems constitutes a direct threat to faculty professional effectiveness. Such efforts also run counter to the University mission to prepare students β€œto lead purposeful lives as engaged global citizens who understand their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all.” This mission requires the critical and ethical application of evidence and reason to address problems, as well as a commitment to engagement, action, and service.

While politics can play an important role in ensuring the thoughtful and ethical application of evidence, recent political changes now question the importance of science and evidence-based inquiry and its application to environmental policy and management. Attempts to control research through the censoring of data or the collective conclusions of peer-reviewed results are deleterious and unacceptable and would undermine the core University mission of sustainability and environmental stewardship. To diminish environmental monitoring or decrease funding for research to understand our global climate is not consistent with the University mission of engagement in the creation of a sustainable future for all global citizens. 

As faculty we reaffirm our responsibility to ensure that scholars are not silenced if their research findings question or do not support powerful interests.  If warranted, we will provide an open forum for targeted researchers, advocate on behalf of faculty who have been silenced, and support research efforts politically targeted for defunding. We have a responsibility to prepare and empower our students to be ethical global stewards as they face inevitable ecological and global challenges of their future. We encourage the administration to publically reaffirm their commitment to the University mission of a sustainable future for all global citizens.