Category Archives: Colleges/Campuses

Concordia College Installs Geothermal System

This fall major updates were made to Concordia College’s EcoHouse, a four-person campus residence for students who want to live more sustainably. The home’s aged heating system received an update through the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system. The project commenced in August 2018 and was operational by October.

Concordia has long been interested in utilizing geothermal on campus, so when it was determined that the EcoHouse was a viable candidate for such a system, the administration jumped on the opportunity. A rebate offered by Moorhead Public Service also aided the college in making the project happen.

The geothermal system utilizes four vertical wells that were drilled in the front yard of the house. An environmentally safe antifreeze is pumped through the wells, warmed by the ground heat, and then pumped through a system that transfers the heat into air which is blown throughout the house. In the summer the system will also provide air conditioning by utilizing the cooler ground temperatures.

Having recently signed Second Nature’s Climate Commitment, this project is the first of many steps Concordia will be taking toward carbon neutrality.

Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization

G.E.C.O. is the Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization, a student organization to promote sustainability on the campus of Gettysburg College. Founded in 1994, the group has been active since, currently with about 15 active members.

Co-president Samantha Pfeffer says that “students participate because they are interested in what GECO does.  We do a lot of different activities throughout the year, including volunteering trips with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, hiking trips, kayaking trips, waste reduction events, and more.  People are interested in participating in those trips and events, but more importantly they care about being part of a community where they can share ideas and be with people who care about similar ideas.” She continues, “I personally joined because I wanted to know about the sustainability and ‘green’ efforts being made on campus and I wanted to be an active member in changing and increasing those efforts.  I wanted to be part of a club that not only did fun things, but that makes a difference in the campus and overall community.”

This past February, GECO hosted the 5th annual GreenAllies Conference. Pfeffer explained, “The GreenAllies Conference is an annual networking conference held where schools from around the region can send students and campus leaders to share ideas and brainstorm ways that they can either improve their campus sustainability or the quality of their club or organization. Gettysburg College and GECO were the hosts for this year’s 5th annual conference. GECO leaders were the primary organizers for the entire event, along with GreenAllies staff members, and GECO members were there the day of the conference to help more everything along.”

To learn more about GECO, visit their website.

Clothing Swap at California Lutheran University

California Lutheran University hosted a free clothing swap in conjunction with an art exhibit that examined the harmful effects of fast fashion.

People could drop off lightly used clothes they no longer want and pick up apparel that others had donated. The event tied into “Garment Girl,” an exhibit by Cal Lutheran adjunct art faculty member Jennifer Vanderpool that explored the textile industry and labor activism. The art exhibit highlighted the hidden costs and consequences of clothing production, including the sweatshop conditions in developing nations, the chemicals used to dye fabric, and the volume of water used to grow cotton.

The clothing swap provided people with a way to reduce their clothing footprint by extending the life of discarded items. Participants could bring in as much or as little usable clothing as they wanted, or none at all, and take as much as they wanted.

During the exhibit’s opening run in Vietnam last year, Vanderpool and Hanoi-based artist and fashion designer Phạm Hồng organized an event called “Remake” to extend the life of clothing. They converted the art gallery into a “factory” with sewing machines in imitation of Vietnamese sweatshops. They invited Hanoi garment and apparel industry workers to work with them and visitors to create new garments from scraps and fix damaged clothing. 

“Garment Girl” features photographic prints, textiles and videos of Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles sweatshops and female textile laborers in Hanoi telling their stories. Vanderpool also conducted interviews with scholars and activists in both locations. In one of the videos, Phạm asks people to think about the efforts of workers who designed and manufactured the clothes they wear, the social and environmental impact of the global supply chain, and their responsibility as consumers.

Concordia Christmas Concert Links Sustainability and the Arts

This December, Concordia College entertained audiences with beautiful choral and orchestral music during the annual Concordia Christmas Concert. This year’s concert was themed “The Beauty of the Earth” and featured a number of environmentally focused pieces. Some examples included material from the UN Environmental Sabbath Service, Jean Richie’s song “Now is the Cool of the Day”, and arrangements of two 19th-century hymns–“This is My Father’s World” and “For the Beauty of the Earth”. These portions of the concert, woven together with traditional Christmas hymns such as “Joy to the World” and “For the Beauty of the Earth” drew clear links between the Christmas season and the beauty of our natural world. Through efforts such as these Concordia strives to weave sustainability throughout all aspects of the college experience.

Wartburg College REUSED Store

The Wartburg College REUSED store is a way for students, faculty, and staff to participate in sustainability on campus. It is a place to get and donate used school and office supplies year-round. All supplies in the store are free to encourage reusing materials to cut down on waste.

“By having a REUSED store on campus, it promotes second hand buying and donating unwanted items instead of throwing away things. Buying second hand and donating unwanted things is one of the many ways people can practice sustainable living,” says Ariel Hall, student manager for the Sustainability Department at Wartburg College. The REUSED store “encourages students to think about how the decisions they are making today affect the environment of their tomorrow. Preparing our students for their future, regardless of major or job choice is something Wartburg strives to do–especially when preparing students to care for their environment after graduation.”

The REUSED store has been around since the beginning of the sustainability program at Wartburg College. Hall says that it would not be very hard to set up a program like this at other schools. She suggests starting by getting students to donate used materials on campus. From there, it’s all about advertising to the community and getting students to donate and shop for REUSED supplies.

Learn more about Wartburg College’s Sustainability Office and REUSED store.

Staff Spotlight: Toby Cain, Luther College

After graduating from Grinnell College in Iowa and attending graduate school in Italy, Cain found herself in Decorah, Iowa working for various agricultural non-profits. Cain is now taking on a new adventure as Sustainability Coordinator in the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College. Expanding on her previous experience, Cain is excited to to continue working “at the intersection of agriculture and the environment.”

 As the Sustainability Coordinator, Cain is responsible for helping Luther meet its various climate goals, including the goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. She says, “My goal is to help the Luther community and our larger community of Northeast Iowa develop the skills, knowledge, values, and habits of mind necessary to be responsible citizens of communities that are striving for a more equitable, prosperous, and environmentally responsible world.”

When asked about the purpose of a sustainability coordinator within an institution, Cain answered: “Institutions that employ a sustainability coordinator are setting an example for other schools, colleges, businesses, and governments. When a college has a sustainability coordinator, they are proclaiming that sustainability is a priority and it is something that is worth dedicated resources. The role of a sustainability coordinator will help students, faculty, and staff coalesce together and work collaboratively to solve some of the biggest problems facing our communities and all species on Earth.”

Learn more about Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities.

Susquehanna University Employs Shepherd At New 3.9 MW Solar Project

Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., has flipped the switch on its 3.9 MW solar array, supplying 30% of the university’s electricity needs.

Built by WGL Energy Systems, the project is employing sheep to help maintain the surrounding grass and weeds. A flock of approximately 30 sheep will come from local Owens Farm in Sunbury starting in April 2019.

At an event to unveil the solar system, Susquehanna President Jonathan D. Green called the sheep “the most environmentally responsible lawn-mowing team of any college or university.” The sheep were also on hand for Wednesday’s event.

“In nine years, we have gone from the Sierra Club’s list of ‘Schools Who Burn Coal’ to the Sierra Club’s list of ‘Cool Schools,'” said Michael Coyne, vice president of finance and administration and co-chief operating officer at Susquehanna. “It hasn’t been easy . . . but as the warnings about climate change have reached a new level of alarm, all that work has proven worth the effort. To shed some light – pun intended – this solar field isn’t our final destination; it’s a milestone along the way to the university being a carbon-neutral campus.”

Read the entire article from Solar Industry.

Augustana College Working Landscapes

Augustana College’s Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI) has expanded its program and will partner with the cities of Davenport, Geneseo, Morrison and Rock Island. Augustana students and faculty will be conducting research and creating solutions for real-life challenges facing each city. This is the third year the college has partnered with local communities.

“The partnership is a win-win for all those involved. It creates learning experiences for students while sharing Augustana’s most valuable assets, its students and faculty, with our local communities to help tackle the challenges facing them,” said Dr. Michael Reisner, the director of the Upper Mississippi Studies Center.

Beginning in 2016, the SWLI entered into a two-year partnership with the Scott County Health Department to identify a more preventative approach to solving the lead poisoning health crisis in the county. More than 300 students completed 14 course-based projects spanning 8 areas of study, including accounting, business, economics, geography, public health, psychology and environmental studies.

Learn more about the current projects in Augustana’s SWLI.

Midwinter Convocation

How do we care for all that God has created? 

What happens when our answer differs wildly from others?

This year’s speakers at Mid-Winter Convocation will help us navigate the challenges of how we live, what we eat, and our fraught relationship with the land.

  • Melanie Harris, Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University
  • Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Bible Division Chair, Luther Seminary
  • Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology, Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Register by December 14 for the early-bird rate. 

Green IT

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Muhlenberg College has been on the forefront of campus sustainability initiatives. Not only do all the new college computer purchases meet EPEAT Gold standards, but energy reduction mechanisms are constantly being introduced.

Most recently, a pilot program to automatically hibernate public computers not in use for more than 10 minutes has been tested. Also, multiple servers have been consolidated into one. Both of these efforts have significantly reduced energy consumption.

Muhlenberg is also considering future expansions of the Green IT program with technology to detect room occupancy to turn off technology when a room is not being used.

Learn more about Muhlenberg Green IT initiatives.

650 New Cal Lutheran Students Helped with Fire Recovery in Ventura Hills

About 650 incoming California Lutheran University students worked to help the hills above Ventura recover from the Thomas Fire as part of a partnership with the City of Ventura that began over 10 years ago. The incoming freshmen class removed bottles and other trash exposed by the fire and helped spread mulch around surviving plants in the Ventura Botanical Gardens, Serra Cross Park and other areas of Grant Park. The benefits of mulching include reducing surface erosion, absorbing rainfall, reducing downstream runoff, protecting seed banks, providing favorable moisture and temperature for seed germination and suppression of non-native weeds.

The students participated in “You Got Served” during New Student Orientation. It is the university’s largest service-learning project in terms of student participants. Cal Lutheran’s Community Service Center has worked with the City Volunteer Ventura! office on the annual program since 2008. The partnership allows all the incoming students to work together on a single project that introduces them to Cal Lutheran’s commitment to service and justice and connects them with the local community in a meaningful way. Cal Lutheran President Chris Kimball and other faculty and staff members worked alongside the students.

Faculty Spotlight: Christina Erickson, Augsburg University

Christina L. Erickson, PhD, is Professor of Social Work and Environmental Studies at Augsburg University. Her work explores the intersections of social work as an applied profession and the experience of humans in their natural, social and economic environment. Dr. Erickson views social work knowledge, skills and values as essential to responding to and ameliorating environmental degradation.

Dr. Erickson published her new book, Environmental Justice as Social Work Practice, with Oxford University Press this past summer.
Environmental Justice as Social Work Practice places the natural environment as central to practice. Utilizing the Phases of Practice and micro to macro levels of practice, the book integrates neatly into a college semester course. Chapters cover important components of social work such as theory, ethics, conceptual foundations as well as distinct chapters on micro, mezzo, and macro practice. Each chapter expands the discipline’s commitment to and applied efforts in the environmental movement while recognizing the unique contributions social work has to offer to ameliorate environmental inequities. Chapters include real-world stories from environmental social work practitioners, case studies, and boxed sections highlighting organizations and people who bridge the human and natural justice divide. The textbook provides a framework for social work educators to bravely and competently teach environmental social work as a stand-alone college course or to incorporate into a traditional practice course.

View the book here, from Oxford University Press.

Course Feature: Environmental Stability in Japan

This past January, St. Olaf College offered “Environmental Sustainability in Japan” for a third time. Thanks to generous support from the Luce Foundation’s Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), students in the course spent a month studying Japanese responses to the environmental challenges that arise from modern lifestyles.

Check out the class website, where 17 students share their thoughts through text and image.

The students share their experiences from the trip and how the it impacted them. Student Eli Dotson describes the class as a mix of farm chores at the Asian Rural Institute and academic work, all while being integrated into a “like-minded community,” working together “to create a daily rhythm far different from the quotidian realities of life in the United States.”

Gettysburg Campus Kitchen Continues to Cook Up Great Food for a Great Cause

Gettysburg College opened its doors in November 2007 as the first Campus Kitchen in Pennsylvania! The project was initiated by Louisa Polos ’07 and is currently managed by the Center for Public Service and student Program Coordinators. Louisa first learned about The Campus Kitchens Project as a volunteer of DC Central Kitchen. She left inspired by the experience and wanted to start a program at her school, so she made it happen!

Campus Kitchen has served 57,260 meals since its origin in 2007. In this time, the organization has also recovered 110,928 pounds of food, all through 7,334 total hours of volunteer work. To read more about how this organization works at Gettysburg College, visit the Campus Kitchen website.

Augustana Receives $375,000 to Enhance Campus Sustainability

 

Augustana is in the first year of a three-year $375,000 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, a nonprofit dedicated to helping society, the arts, and the environment.

Helping guide the effort are two students: Incoming senior Hatem Khalfaoui, a native of Tunisia studying business and computer information systems, and pre-law student Anna Steinwand, who grew up learning from her father, who is co-chair of the environmental studies program at Concordia College.

Augustana surveyed students about their sustainability literacy earlier this year and plans to resurvey to measure the grant’s effectiveness.
“[Having] a high response rate to our survey was very rewarding,” Khalfaoui said. “It showed us the level of students’ engagement and interest in sustainability. A significant number of people who took the survey also took the time to share their ideas and recommendations for sustainability efforts on campus.”

Some of Augustana’s areas of focus for this grant are on green transportation, sustainable dining and drinking, conservation competitions for students, and academic programming around campus.

Read the full story from Siouxfalls.Business here.

The Green Pledge at Carthage College

“I pledge to preserve, conserve, and protect the world’s natural resources to the best of my ability. Specifically, I will follow the three R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in my local environment by doing as many of the following as I can, and I will encourage others to do so…”

This pledge began at Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, in October 2010. It is intended to serve as a model for college and university students and everyone else. Please feel free modify the text to fit your group or community and pass it along.

To view the rest of the pledge, visit Carthage Sustainability.

Valparaiso University shares tips about how to reuse plastic bags!

When one ton of plastic bags is reused or recycled, the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil is saved! By bringing your own bag to the grocery store, you can save thousands of plastic bags from ending up in landfills, or even worse in ecosystems where they can harm living creatures.

Look for alternate uses for the bags you’ve collected

  • Old bags make great in-car trash containers.
  • Use them as shoe protectors in the garden.
  • Re-use them to clean up kitty litter, or to pick up dog droppings when walking your pet.
  • Use them in your smaller waste bins around the house.
  • Fill a few with shredded paper and tie them off for cheap, reusable packing materials. They’re also a handy way to maintain the shape of your favorite tote.
  • Cut a slit in your bags and use them to protect clothes from dust, moths, and other pests.
  • Take them with you for easy disposal of diapers.

To see other tips, visit Valparaiso’s sustainability page.

Kristina Johnson, Colleges and Universities Page Student Editor (past)

My name is Kristina Johnson. I am currently a student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. As I have grown in both my faith and my passion for the environment, I have continually found ways in which the two intertwine. I find that there are many ways in which God is calling us to be stewards for the beautiful earth which he has created. I believe that creation care is not just something that we as Christians should do, it is something that we are called to do. This is why I am currently pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Religion. I want to find a way to promote the development of sustainable practices, influenced and founded by faith.

At my home congregation, Hosanna Lutheran Church, in Rochester, MN, I sought to promote this idea by developing a program called VBS Plus. This after-VBS program allowed kids to put the Christian call to care for God’s creation into action through faith-based environmental service projects. These little actions such as planting flowers, watering the Hosanna Community Garden, and picking up trash around the church introduced the importance of creation care to kids at a young age.

At Luther, I have worked to promote sustainability on campus in several ways. I have worked in the Luther Gardens, which seeks to promote eating local by growing produce which will be served to students in the cafeteria. I am also a student coordinator for Luther’s Cafeteria to Community program. With this, I help direct the volunteers that package leftover cafeteria food and I help deliver the frozen food to the First Lutheran Church food pantry in Decorah.

Throughout my daily life at both my home, and in my dorm, I see the importance of applying my faith towards my practices which impact the environment. Through actions such as: setting up a compost bin at home, sewing together reusable “paper” towels, or simply taking the few extra steps to turn off a light that nobody is using, I seek to carry out these practices not because I feel obligated to do so, but because I feel the call to care for God’s creation.

Wartburg College Offers A New Twist to the Common 3R’s of Sustainable Living

The majority of people have probably heard of the 3R’s of Sustainable Living:  Reduce, reuse, recycle. Wartburg College has added two extra categories to their list: Refuse and repair.

“You have probably heard of the 3 R’s of waste reduction (reduce, reuse, recycle) but there are actually 5 R’s at Wartburg College. They should be considered in this order too.

  1. Refuse – if you don’t need it don’t take/get it

  2. Reduce – only take what you really need, you can almost always get more

  3. Repair – just because it may be inexpensive to get it new, repair will keep it out of the landfill

  4. Reuse – if you are done with it, maybe someone else can use it

  5. Recycle – if there are no other options, recycle, keep it out of the landfill”

Wartburg Sustainability strives to promote these five R’s through sustainable practices around campus.

To read more about Wartburg’s sustainability efforts, click here.