THESA originated from a discussion in 2003 regarding the importance of “greening higher education” by the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Roundtable (TP2R), a multi-stakeholder program facilitated by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). TP2R recommended the formation of a group to discuss and promote greening within higher education. THESA has since expanded, reaching out to faculty and staff from numerous small and large institutions. It became a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in 2009.
Why is THESA necessary? In carrying out critical educational mission, higher education institutions in Tennessee demonstrate a large “ecological footprint” not unlike other major businesses in the state. The sustainability movement nationwide is an attempt to promote continued economic vitality while simultaneously sustaining natural resources and protecting the environment. THESA seeks to assist in bringing sustainability to Tennessee campuses. Its principle mission is to advance sustainable practices on campuses, promote the teaching of sustainability principles in classrooms, and encourage social, economic, and personal environmental responsibility throughout higher education in Tennessee. In short, it seeks to create an institutional culture of sustainability throughout higher education.
How does THESA do this? THESA seeks to add value to the sustainability initiatives taking place on Tennessee campuses. It does so by holding workshops and conferences, maintaining a web site, consulting with interested parties within academia, business, and state government, and by providing informational and educational services to member institutions. THESA strives to be an enabling organization rather than an advocacy group.