Join App State Chief Sustainability Officer Lee Ball and guest Dr. Rajat Panwar, associate professor in App State's Walker College of Business, as they discuss deforestation, corporate social responsibility and global value chains, as well as Panwar's journey from India, to the Himalayas, to App State — an institution that "values sustainability and sustainable business so much," Panwar, said.
Lee Ball: Welcome to the podcast Find Your Sustain Ability, where we discuss active solutions to some of the world's toughest problems related to climate change, social justice and sustainability. My name is Lee Ball, and I am your host. On today's show, we have Dr. Rajat Panwar, who is an associate professor of sustainable business management here at Appalachian State University. Dr. Panwar has a versatile academic background that includes researching and teaching in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. He has earned two doctoral degrees, one in the forest sector, business sustainability, and the other in strategic management. A native of India, Dr. Panwar now lives here with us in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia. Rajat, welcome to the show.
Rajat Panwar: Thank you very much, Lee. Thank you for having me.
Lee Ball: So can you tell us what it was like growing up in India? And can you share any stories that inspired you to advocate on the behalf of people and places through your work as a professor and a researcher?
Rajat Panwar: That's a very good start of the conversation. Thank you, Lee. Growing up in India as a child was very different than the experience the kids are having these days. Things have changed dramatically. Back in the day, the gap between the developed and the developing world was even more dramatic than it is today. So for example, I did not have a television in my household until I was in senior year of high school. And the first time I made a phone call in my life was when I was already in college. So just to give a framework around where I grew up and all that. India happened to be a developing country even then, and the economy was growing fine, and actually at a remarkably faster rate than many others when I was growing up.
Rajat Panwar: But at the same time, my memory of the development happening in India is not a story that is very exciting. Why I say that, Lee, is because I was growing up at a time when the word sustainable development had not entered the policy lexicon, at least in a country like India. So I witnessed, growing up, devastation of natural resources, particularly the forests around the area that I grew up in, sometimes purely to see a road being constructed or a telephone line being put up and things like that. So growing up, I was very ambivalent with this whole idea of economic development and that perhaps led into my research and my professional pursuits in the area of sustainable development. That is what I would say in terms of growing up, my story in India, it was filled with very mixed emotions. What I was seeing was not what I wanted to see, and that definitely shaped who I am as a person and who I am as a scholar.
Lee Ball: Was there still a lot of nature that you grew up around, a lot of beauty? I'm always trying to understand people like you and me that have a devotion to protecting these places. A lot of times that was really inspired by a deep connection at an early age. I was just wondering if that was something that you experienced.
Rajat Panwar: Yeah, absolutely. And so, I mean the notion of nature is very different to different people. So for example, anybody growing up or living in Appalachian Mountains or Blue Ridge Mountains, their idea of nature is green trees and those kind of things. I grew up in a rather arid part of India. So we didn't have lots of greenery, so to speak, around, but there was a big river and the watershed of that river really was what I would call nature growing up. Like bushes and some animals around those, that was my nature. And I saw that going away because the government started to give those lands on lease to farmers. And so the watershed around the river started to basically disappear as people started to farm on it.
Rajat Panwar: Today, if you go there, you'd see just a tiny little stream and six or seven months in a year, actually it does not have any water. It is not a perennial river now, whereas 30 years ago, it was filled with water and was a prominent river. It still is a prominent river in Northern India, but it does not have water round the year. So coming back to your question, yes, the nature was there in a very different form. And actually, because I grew up in a very arid setting, now I live in a temperate region, and I have also spent times in tropics. So my view of the word nature is multidimensional. And that is why my research has also has become multidimensional for that reason.
Lee Ball: Let's expand on that a little geographically. So you grew up in India, but you left, at least to explore other parts of Asia. Was that your initial departure, was to go to other parts of Asia first before coming to Europe?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah, for tourism. But no, the first time I came out of India to live abroad was actually when I moved to the U.S. to pursue my Ph.D. program at Oregon State University. But yeah, I had traveled quite a bit before that, short-term projects. Some projects had two to three months kind of project. I had some consulting assignments prior to getting into academia with the United Nations and the World Bank, and that took me places. I also was involved with some projects sponsored by the Ford Foundation. And so that took me to Africa. So I had traveled quite a bit before I moved to the U.S. But as far as the long-term living is concerned, for the first time it was when I decided to come to this beautiful country.
Lee Ball: Right. So you really went from a very arid area to almost the complete opposite in Northwestern United States, in Oregon.
Rajat Panwar: Yep, absolutely. Yeah. It was very difficult. I remember when I moved to Oregon, it was the month of September and September, it's the weather like we have these days here. But I was coming from very warm climate, so I remember complaining to my Ph.D. adviser then that, "Oh, this is so difficult for me. I don't think that I would be able to live here." And then, later on, I lived in Wisconsin and then in Canada and now here, so adaptability comes as circumstances change. So yeah, but it was a very, very different climate conditions in Oregon relative to the ones that I grew up in and lived and had lived in before.
Lee Ball: Rajat, could you do us a favor and explain what really drew you to university in Oregon?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah. So there's a little bit of a story behind that. I had completed my MBA degree in India, and I started to work for a corporation and I was not too happy with the corporate kind of jobs. And within the first few months, I realized that I need to take a break, I need to actually reflect upon what I want to do and where do I want to spend my energy on. So I took a break from the work. It was supposed to be a weeklong break and it ended up being a nine-months-long break. So I went to the Himalayas and started exploring around, talking to people, and I just stumbled upon a Buddhist monastery. And I got drawn to that and spent quite, several months, actually, meditating. And around the same time, I also got interested in forest products, natural forest products.
Rajat Panwar: And in India, particularly, forest products are like medicinal plants, herbal plants, aromatic plants, anything that you see in the forest, other than timber. So I started to talk to people who were living in the rural communities there, that what are your means of livelihood? And many of them told me that, "Oh, well, we actually do depend on these forest lands." And these are, by the way, public lands. Forests cannot be owned by individuals in India, unlike for example, in the U.S., people can be forest land owners privately. Anyway, so I was talking to these people and they were telling me their sources of livelihood and those kind of things. So I started to ask them that, "Hey, what price do you sell a particular herb for?" And they would tell me, 20 rupees, 50 cents a pound kind of rate.
Rajat Panwar: And because I had spent time in the cities, particularly New Delhi, the capital city of India, I knew that actually the price of that particular herb in the markets in New Delhi was sometimes 1,000 or 2,000 times than that. So I thought, ha, this is the area that I want to really focus on and these are the kind of problems I would like to solve or help address and utilize my business administration planning and expertise on. So I started to explore whether there are some professors who had been working at the interface of corporations, markets and these forest products. Actually, I can give a technical name for that. It is called non-timber forest products, NTFPs. Some of your audience might be interested in that. So non-timber forest products are everything that comes out of the forest other than timber. Very big market, the World Bank, the United Nations, every major organization has deep interest in promoting these, partly because many communities throughout the world depend on them.
Rajat Panwar: So anyway, I started to look into if there are any professors who are making this connection between these non-timber forest products and mainstream markets, and I really didn't find any, within India. So I started to look if there are people outside India that are working in the area of forest products and particularly non-timber products, and are they making the connections with the mainstream markets? Long story short, I started exploring, many professors were contacted, and finally, I found somebody in Oregon who was interested in this kind of research. And that is when I decided that, OK, well, I want to pursue my further studies and I came to the U.S. as a doctoral student pursuing my doctoral studies, specifically in the area of forest products and forest sector sustainability.
Lee Ball: That's fascinating. It makes me want to go to the Himalayas and meditate on my next move. So the idea of just the notion that people are out there extracting non-timber forest products is very interesting to me as well. There's a long history and culture of that here in Appalachia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And I know that the forest has, for centuries, been treated as a commons. But now, the commons is really the national forests and there's so much private forest. And as a result, we see a lot of poaching that occurs. But most people, when you ask them about forest products, like you said, they think immediately of timber products. But forest product, I've been to the Amazon and other places, and I'm very aware that non-timber forest products are thriving. But then they're also threatened in many ways. And I think it's just really important work for you and others to be really thinking about how to really, I don't know, disrupt the inequities in that supply chain that you referenced, between the value of the local market compared to what you observed in New Delhi.
Rajat Panwar: Actually, early on the assumption was that these communities were not aware, but that is not what I found out in my research. There are structural barriers and there are, of course, some what you could easily call actions within the broader notion of corporate hypocrisy. They are aware, but oftentimes silenced in the bigger story of markets and where powerful players are often able to survive better than the others. But yeah, this is, as you said, I mean, in Amazon, in Southeast Asia and also in parts of Africa, this is a very critical issue from all angles, from economic development perspective, from natural resource protection, as well as from a social equity and social justice perspective.
Lee Ball: So you eventually made it to here to Appalachian State University. Could you tell us a little bit about the journey that led you here?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah. So when I was finishing my Ph.D. at Oregon State University, Lee, my plan was to go back to India and work with those communities where I actually had got the motivation to pursue the Ph.D. in the first place. My then-adviser and now friend Eric Hansen, he is the one who should be blamed for everything that happened since. So he pushed me and sort of motivated me to explore the possibilities of sharing what I had known with students in the United States. And I'm a very freelance and very free flow kind of academic. And he said, "You should explore a liberal arts college and see if you would fit in somewhere. You are a liberal arts kind of person." I had not heard the word liberal arts ever in my life before that. This is not the word that is part of the Indian higher ed system.
Rajat Panwar: When I came to the U.S., I was very much in the science-y crew. So I had no idea, like, what is liberal arts? I am not interested. And he said, "No, I found a job announcement from an environmentally focused liberal arts college in Wisconsin, called Northland." And I was like, "Where is Wisconsin?" And so, I'm cutting some parts of the story. I went to Northern Wisconsin in March, it was snowing, basically the end of the winter, but frigid conditions. I went there just on the shore of the big lake, Lake Superior. And I had never been to a place like that before. Basically I fell in love during my interview, and I thought, "Oh my goodness, I want to be at this kind of a place. People are just talking about things that I have been researching."
Rajat Panwar: These are undergraduate students. They are obviously not a deep explorer of science, but they are very curious about big pictures and all that. And it also turned out, they actually also liked my perspective on things. It worked out. I joined Northland College as an assistant professor, tenure track, thinking that I will be there for a year or so and then I will move on. India was still on my mind. Then that one year ended up being three years, four years. I was still enjoying everything there. And around that same time came an opportunity from the University of British Columbia, where I had several colleagues and they knew about my expertise in forest products and sustainability and all that. And they were looking for somebody to pioneer, kind of like to do cutting-edge research at the intersection of sustainability and forest products.
Rajat Panwar: They invited me, I went there, everything worked out fine. I joined the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, again, as a tenure track professor doing all the research, got many graduate students, many talented graduate students, Ph.D. students. Research was going on fine, but for personal circumstances, I decided to come back to the U.S. and to the U.S. South, actually. And so right around the time when I was looking for, is there any opportunity, I happened to see an advertisement in one of the higher ed listservs. It says sustainable business management announcement at App State. I had heard about the university, but I did not know anything beyond the name. So I looked into, I came here again, I remember it was the month of March. Amazing people, amazing colleagues. I met many of you. I don't think that I had the opportunity to meet you, Lee, at that time.
Rajat Panwar: But Jim Westerman, Heather Dixon-Fowler, many others, Marty Mezner. And I, again, fell in love with the place, with people, and of course, the students I interacted. So I joined in November of 2016. And of course, I forgot to mention a few moves here and there. I had done some work in between, in France and also in South America, doing research, again in the area of sustainability and social justice. So the journey is long, but the journey is focused. I have always been a sustainability researcher and am very happy to be working at a place right now that values sustainability and sustainable business so much.
Lee Ball: We're very happy that you found your way here, that's for sure.
Rajat Panwar: Likewise.
Lee Ball: Someone that has an interest in forests, you have really spent some time in some serious woods, my friend. So I used to live not too far from Northland College. I don't think we've talked about this. But I lived two hours north of Duluth.
Rajat Panwar: Ah.
Lee Ball: Yeah, in a little town called Orr, Minnesota, northwest of Ely.
Rajat Panwar: Yes.
Lee Ball: In that boundary water area.
Rajat Panwar: Yes.
Lee Ball: I was in the middle of the North Woods, working at a wildlife sanctuary for black bears. An area that I never was able to get to was the Apostle Islands, closer to where you lived on Lake Superior, which it looks like just a magical place. But then you go to British Columbia and that's another area with a lot of intact forest. But like a lot of North America, there's still threats to these forested areas, mostly through resource extraction, mining and logging. Did you spend much time just exploring the North Woods, especially in Wisconsin and northern Minnesota?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah. I would definitely travel around and I had research collaborators. So many of them are still there. Yeah, I had the good fortune to be able to explore and travel around in both places, both in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as in British Columbia.
Lee Ball: Right. And so now here, in Boone, North Carolina, it's one of the largest deciduous forests in the world. Arguably, it's somewhat contiguous, but we still have a lot of national forest intact. Your work, focusing on forest products, does it continue here with your work at App State?
Rajat Panwar: Lee, unfortunately, the forestry research has taken a little bit of a backseat in my research portfolio within the last three or four years. Forest-related projects, I'm pursuing two of them, very big projects. But I'm looking at my projects list here and actually out of the eight projects that I'm currently working on, there are two that are related to forests, but nothing is specific to North Carolina. So I am pursuing a global project on deforestation and global value chains. And another one is corporations and biodiversity. Both are obviously forest-related projects, but there is no project currently that is specific to North Carolina, Lee.
Lee Ball: Can you tell us a little more about those projects?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah. So those are both bringing the knowledge together kind of projects. So I'm leading … one is kind of like a special issue and bringing together the most influential voices as to how deforestation is caused by value chains of different commodities. Many of your listeners would know that deforestation is caused by these four major commodities: beef, which is related to cattle ranching mostly in South America. The second commodity is palm oil. Again, partly in South America, partly in Southeast Asia, actually mainly in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa. The third one will be paper products to get pulp for making paper. Again, timber industry basically. And the fourth one is soy. And when we think of soy, most of us think that, "Oh, soy is for human consumption," which is true. But actually most of the soy goes to feed the animals that humans eat, for example, chicken. So these four commodities are the main drivers of the majority of tropical deforestation in the world. And it is a major concern. Deforestation is the second single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy sector.
Rajat Panwar: And so just to keep it in perspective, the emissions caused by deforestation are higher than the emissions caused by all the world's airplanes, ships, cars, trucks, trains, all combined. So basically deforestation causes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector. So it's an important topic and four commodities are responsible for it. And obviously, most of it happens through global supply chains. People don't even know that their day-to-day procedures are causing deforestation. If you go to a grocery store in town, it is said, some estimates suggest, it is not accurate, but gross estimates suggest that half of the items on an average grocery store’s shelves do contain palm oil in one form or the other, from your cookies to your shaving cream, to any other cosmetic item, you name it. So this project is about connecting the dots between global value chains, which is a topic that business management scholars study, on one hand, and deforestation that is generally not a topic that business management scholars have adequately dealt with.
Rajat Panwar: So this project is about combining these two disparate and two diverse fields of knowledge that somehow, unfortunately have remained disconnected so far. The biodiversity project is more like a research project, and it is about how different corporate actions do affect what kind of biodiversity. People think of biodiversity in a very monolithic way, that biodiversity is about number of trees, but there are many ways to measure biodiversity. And actually, some of the research is suggesting that there is no one way to say that which type of biodiversity conservation is better, or which type of biodiversity targets are better in one area versus the other. So the second project is more like a research project, detail-oriented. The first one is more like combining the big picture issues.
Lee Ball: So when COVID is over, will you travel to some of these areas?
Rajat Panwar: Yes, South America, for sure. I have collaborations in Chile and there are several projects that I'm pursuing there with. Several of them are related to these issues, but there are also some others. And you may have, I know you are a global thinker, so there were some issues, social unrest going on in Chile. So some of my recent projects have also addressed those issues, particularly trying to explore the relationship between economic inequality and gender inequality.
Lee Ball: Sure. So that was in the news yesterday, I believe, related to palm oil. No surprise to us, but they're linking a lot of human trafficking and sexual abuse to the palm oil industry, specifically in Asia. You and I have talked a lot about greenwashing and the business sector. Could you speak a little bit about your investigations and what you've been able to discover regarding corporate greenwashing, corporate attempts to use sustainability as a marketing tool?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah. That's a very good question. And yes, you and I, and many others, we have had these conversations before. Corporate sustainability actions are important, and corporations have unique resources. They have massive reach and they of course can influence consumers in any way they want to. So their cooperation and their coming on board in sustainability efforts is critical. It's indispensable. Governments cannot do it alone. But at the same time, in last 15 years or so of my research, exploring corporate sustainability, I'm not that enthusiastic anymore as I used to be maybe even 10 years ago. So in one of the lectures that you very kindly invited me to, Lee, in the Energy Summit lecture, I summarized everything that I think about characterizes the corporate actions into three categories. And this is how I say them.
Rajat Panwar: Corporate sustainability actions are shallow, they are narrow and they are beguiling. So this conversation can go forever. But in very short way, I would say that they do not address all the critical issues that without which, we cannot be sustainable. Corporate sustainability story is a story of carbon management. And that is not all about sustainability. I tell my students, I tell to my corporate audience, I write through Forbes and any other magazine that has given me the opportunity to talk about it, that sustainability is not all about carbon. Carbon is an important, but just one piece of the equation. So corporate sustainability initiatives are very narrow in that sense, that they just focus on one item, which is carbon. And partly because that it is easy to strike a win-win between carbon management and financial considerations. Whereas, the win-win in ocean cleaning up or biodiversity, that is not so easy.
Rajat Panwar: The second is that they are shallow, meaning they don't go deep enough. It is easy for the company to say that we are being sustainable within the boundaries of the firm. But if you start looking into the embedded footprints, whether embedded carbon or embedded biodiversity or anything, where their supply chain actors are located, what is the overall environmental impact of their products or whatever they are buying throughout the supply chain, they don't go that far at all. People talk about, sometimes about energy, where their energy is coming from. But that also is not the complete story.
Rajat Panwar: Just to give you an example, Unilever, a large consumer company, 96% of its emissions are hidden in its supply chains, in its value chain. So if Unilever says that, "Oh, we changed this light bulb. We installed solar panels. We did this, we did that." That is 4% of their footprint. 96% is hidden. That is buried underneath their value chains. So companies don't talk about it and that is why I say that they are shallow.
Rajat Panwar: And as far as the beguiling aspect goes, that is really where your question about greenwashing becomes important. And I just give one example, recycling. Ask recycling companies that, OK, yeah, you are getting us excited. We all want to be part of the solution. Our students are so keen on recycling, our community is so keen on recycling. I want to know where our recyclable products are recycled. Tell me please that they are not going to China. Well, China actually stopped taking our garbage. Now tell me that they are not going to Malaysia or Indonesia or many other parts in the world.
Rajat Panwar: And that is what is happening, that majority of the recycling is happening somewhere else, where the recycling plants are run on not clean energy. And then of course, there is transportation-related and environmental emissions involved and whatnot. I have been to Southeast Asia many times. In many places, you will see that the garbage is actually floating in the ocean. And you ask, "Where did it come from?" I'm not seeing people actually disposing so much of their garbage around. Where did it come from? And you find out that, oh, it's actually a waste management company that got all this stuff from somewhere else in the world. In many cases, it is the United States. And so we are filling somebody else's, not backyard, but their front yards.
Rajat Panwar: So the corporate sustainability initiatives, they are important, but my understanding and my narrative and my narration of them is not very enthusiastic these days. That is why in one of the research projects, along with some of my collaborators, I'm proposing a new paradigm of corporate sustainability, which I will not talk about until we have that paper out. But that is something that I would be very enthusiastically looking forward to sharing with you, Lee.
Lee Ball: Well, I hope that we get a chance to talk about that when the paper comes out. And I really appreciate the fact that you shed light to some of these issues. The world is hyper-focused on carbon, and I understand climate change is a scary thing, but so is the lack of biodiversity, the threats to biodiversity, and the myriad of social travesties that happen. So I'm just thinking about the future of, how we push the envelope, how do we get better at this work? Specifically with tracking this information within supply chain, because here at the university, we want to do better and we want to be able to have more informed decisions. But it's difficult to make decisions when we don't have the information that we need. So if we wanted to install a specific climate mitigation strategy, is it helping people? Is it helping biodiversity? We don't really necessarily know. And I know there are no silver bullets in sustainability, so I'm not going to ask you about that. But are there some hopeful technologies like blockchain or others to really help with this supply chain issue?
Rajat Panwar: There are and there aren't. Blockchain is good, but blockchain is not the invention that we have not had before. In forest products sector for example, this idea of essentially closing the chain so that your accounts and your books are interlinked. The problem is this — it all depends on human will. And even before blockchain is becoming actually popular, I'm already seeing it being misused. So I am not putting my bets on blockchain. Where I'm putting my bets and I'm still a little bit hopeful is about remote sensing and enhancing surveillance. That is probably one of the ways how the progress can be made. Again, it is not foolproof. It is not easy to implement. But the problem with blockchain, and I'm bringing it back because you gave that as an example, and so many people are very, very, very keen about it, and I am too, in a way, but I'm also seeing that it might end up being yet another smoke screen, just because it will continue to maintain the status quo. Corporations will have the say.
Rajat Panwar: I think the way forward could be, first of all, to enact regulations about supply chain disclosures, and some countries are making significant progress: Germany, UK and even in the United States, actually, state of California has a Disclosure Act related to supply chain. So that is not the number one thing that it has to be legislation. And second is I think the remote sensing expertise has to come into picture. A combination of these two, then can inform blockchain-type of ledger keeping or closed loop communication type of systems. Before that, I don't think that these technologies will be as much helpful. So what I'm saying is essentially this: We need to have supply chain disclosure regulation, we need to have remote sensing, that means surveillance in place, and then we trust on corporations' willingness to adopt these voluntary initiatives, such as the one that blockchain allows for.
Lee Ball: Right. And hopefully customers can drive some of this as well with their purchasing interests, I would think. I like this notion of a more radical transparency around surveillance and just people need to know that people are watching.
Rajat Panwar: Yeah, absolutely.
Lee Ball: So Rajat, we're coming up to the end of our time here, and I'm just really super fascinated in your experience in the Himalayas and just your lifelong work regarding mindfulness and meditation. And really, how do you draw upon that in your current work?
Rajat Panwar: Yeah, so Lee, this is a very, very important question. And when I say important, I mean that it is profoundly personal, not private, but profoundly personal. That experience in the Himalayas that you are bringing back again, that made me realize that I have to connect with myself. I was living like I'm living now, or like any anybody else. But until you realize that who you are from within and that all of our actions have meaning, they have to be performed in a way that they have intrinsic value. I did not realize those kind of things until that experience. And now, everything I do, obviously it is part of my job, my job is part of my physical well-being, my livelihood and all that. But every single thing that I write about, every single thing that I research about, it has intrinsic value. So relating back to my experience, and now what I do, now what I do is what I am. It is not my job. It is what I am. And that is a one sentence summary of how I can relate my professional life with my inner life.
Lee Ball: That's really beautiful. I so appreciate your vulnerability to share that with us. I really relate to that at a deep level. I feel the same way about my approach to work and life. And just thank you so much. And thank you for your time, Rajat. You're a blessing to this campus. It's great having you here. I can't wait for COVID to be over so we can be in person again, sharing stories and continuing this work.
Rajat Panwar: Thank you very much, Lee. Thank you very much, everybody who would be able to listen to it. And yes, it's a blessing for me also to be able to work with all these wonderful people at Appalachian State University, your wonderful team doing amazing work in the sustainability realm, Lee. And of course, everybody in the community and these beautiful surroundings that we have been endowed. Thank you very much.
Speaker 3: Find Your Sustain Ability is a production of the University Communications Department and Appalachian State. It's hosted by Appalachian's chief sustainability officer, Lee Ball. For more information about Appalachian State sustainability, check out sustain.appstate.edu. For more podcasts, videos and articles related to Appalachian State, check out today.appstate.edu.
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Appalachian State University’s leadership in sustainability is known nationally. The university’s holistic, three-branched approach considers sustainability economically, environmentally and equitably in relationship to the planet’s co-inhabitants. The university is an active steward of the state’s interconnected financial, cultural and natural resources and challenges students and others think critically and creatively about sustainability and what it means from the smallest individual action to the most broad-based applications. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate academic degree programs that focus on sustainability. In addition, 100 percent of Appalachian’s academic departments offer at least one sustainability course or course that includes sustainability, and all students graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome. Learn more at https://appstate.edu/sustainability.
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As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.