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Environmental Innovators at Providence
2011-03-01

Part III: Can environment friendly projects be good business?

By Thomas Kaethler

Bruce Duggan, Associate Professor of Management

Meet Bruce Duggan, head of the Business Department at Providence College.

TK: What exactly is your role in the new environmental upgrades on the school?

BD: Well, I have had a fair amount of experience working for nonprofit organizations and applying for government grants. About 2 or 3 years ago, Dr. Konkel approached me and said he was interested in applying for government grants to address the various needs of our campus. We applied for a federal grant for a renewable energy project.

TK: How do the environmental projects here at Providence intersect with a Christian Arts education?

BD: I’m convinced that environmental stewardship is a Christian duty. So far as I can tell, the text of the Bible is pretty explicit about this—the world is God’s, and we are his stewards. What I’m arguing for is a straightforward, mainstream reading of the biblical texts. There are quite a few passages that touch on the relationship between God, ourselves, and the created order. I think we should take those texts seriously—and try to act on them.

TK: How does this relate to the Business department?

It seems to me that Christians and environmentalists often talk to each other. And sometimes environmentalists and businesspeople talk—or at least shout—at each other. And sometimes businesspeople and Christians talk together. But a three-way conversation—

The Providence meteorological tower at the north end of the Otterburne campus.
one that brings together all three perspectives—that rarely happens. As a business prof, I’m intrigued by the possibility of weaving together all three here at Providence.
And then there’s the fun of trying to turn ideas into reality. That’s a large part of what business is—making ideas into reality.
If something is to be sustainable, it has to be profitable. The projects we’re tackling are difficult. Very few educational institutions have made significant progress on green energy. So we can go first. Being a leader in this field will be a good thing for us as an institution.

TK: What is the specific vision for Providence's green renovations?

BD: The first stage was the high efficiency furnaces we installed a while back. The second stage was the geothermal. The third stage is using biomass fuels for heat. The next stage may be wind energy. After that are the possibilities of solar heating and a zero-net-energy building. And we need to look at reducing the CO2 emissions produced from school-related travel. We already encourage carpooling, and are working on a shuttle bus between the campus and Winnipeg.

Creating an environmentally sustainable campus is a unique opportunity to pull together in a unique way many of the features of Providence: it is small enough to be able to do it, cutting edge, and fun, and Christian.
Providence is quietly transforming the physical buildings of its campus to become a frontrunner in environmental sustainability, and integrating this action into an economically viable, Christian institution.
 

 
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