Graduation Pledge 2017



A student signing the GPA during commencement 2016. (Photo courtesy of Knox College Flickr)

It’s that time of year once again, time for all the hard work of another group of Knox students to finally pay off. This next week is going to be filled with lots of hugs and lots of tears as the senior class of 2017 celebrates their last week at Knox before graduation on June 4th. Each individual is headed on a different path and the grads are getting ready to make their post-Knox debut into the world. There’s no need for concern about these grads forgetting their sustainability roots however, because 236 (and counting) have already signed the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility!

What is the Graduation Pledge you may ask? Great question! The Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) has a simple, yet important mission – to build a global community of graduates committed to social and environmental responsibility in the workplace and in the rest of their lives. The pledge states:


“I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”



This sounds nice, but what does it mean? The pledge can be represented in a number of decisions and actions in the workplace. For example, someone could promote recycling at their organization, remove racist language from a training manual, work for gender parity in high school athletics, or helped to convince an employer to refuse a chemical weapons-related contract. This could be turning down a job for a company or working to make changes within the organization as an employee.

Signing the Pledge is voluntary. Knox has offered the option to sign the pledge since 2014 and each year about 80% of graduates publicly sign (there is also the option to go online and sign). In the three years of participation, more than 1000 students have signed!

Those who have chosen to publicly sign the Pledge have their signature on the Pledge poster, which is on display during Commencement. The 2017 poster will be added to a wall that displays the posters from the previous three years, hanging in the Office of Sustainability. Drop by and see if you can spot your friend or family member’s signature!



A Knox grad equipped with a fresh diploma sporting a green ribbon indicating she has signed the Graduation Pledge! (Photo courtesy of Knox College Flickr)

In addition to the poster, by signing the pledge, graduates wear a green ribbon with their regalia. This ribbon symbolizes that they have signed the pledge and that they have or will consider the environmental and social consequences of their job choices.

To graduates that lost their ribbon, there will be extras available Commencement day. If your friend or family member doesn’t have a ribbon on, ask them if they signed the pledge. Try to spot or count how many ribbons you watch walk across Commencement stage!  


Though agreeing to take the pledge may seem a simple task for each graduate, by pledging to be a part of the environmental movement each name is helping move one step closer to a more sustainable future.


To learn more, visit



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