Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 21, 2017

Manchester Fountain

Manchester University Fountain

Seniors Can Pledge to Honor Environment

Ciara Knisely

Capes and superpowers are no longer necessary to be a hero! 

Instead, seniors can declare their dedication to social and environmental consciousness with the Graduation Pledge.  

The Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, drafted in 1987, reads in full: “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.”

Manchester, home to the first peace studies program in the United States, began supporting the pledge a year after its drafting at Humboldt State University in California and later became the headquarters for the Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) from 1996 until 2007. It is now based at Bentley University in Massachusetts. 

Sam Torgerson ’16, current Peace Studies Coordinator, encourages students to partake in the pledge. Currently, he says, about 80 percent of graduates sign up. According to the GPA, the Graduation Pledge has spread to over 300 campuses around the world and is still growing.

The pledge encourages graduates to have concern for the world around them. “It’s important that we think about the consequences of our jobs,” Torgerson says. “Ideally, the pledge would push people to work in professions that help people, rather than those that profit from others oppression.” 

Torgerson believes that the best way to embrace the pledge after graduation is to be aware of direct and indirect consequences of any job. “Even if you are not actively hurting or oppressing people, working for an organization which does, even in a role that helps people, is a way of endorsing that oppression,” he states.

The pledge is not a strict rule to follow, but rather a personal decision to uphold one’s own morals. As the pledge doesn’t go into specifics, it is up to everyone’s personal interpretation of social and environmental responsibilities.

Torgerson also notes that the pledge is important economically. “It causes people to think about things other than how they might profit from it, like how it might affect other people,” he explains. “Personally, this pledge means that we should place our values over profit.  I feel that as a society we are much too focused on generating wealth, regardless of what this does to others.” 

Taking the values of this pledge into account, graduates may be motivated to incite improvements into jobs that may not be socially or environmentally healthy. “This pledge asks us to take a stand and do what is right, rather than what is profitable,” Torgerson says.

The pledge also shows a commitment to both personal values and the values of MU’s mission statement. “It’s a conviction that I will take my principles seriously when choosing a job,”  Torgerson says. “It’s a commitment to our values.” 

“I think it’s relevant because it’s important to improve the world we live in,” says senior Shay Aator, who plans to sign the pledge. “We learn so much about how to take care of ourselves and the skills we need to be a good person, and I think going that extra step to better the world around us is important.”

Senior Emily Wells agrees. “I think it’s important to sign the pledge in order to make the world a better place for this generation and the next,” she states.

“If even one person chooses to work in a way that protects people or our environment, then I think the pledge will have accomplished its mission,” Torgerson says.

The pledge is voluntary, and those who choose to pledge will receive green ribbons to wear on their gowns during commencement. 

Graduating seniors may sign up online at, at gown pickup in the Campus Store or at tables set up in the Academic Center and Science Center in the future.