The Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES) is an interdisciplinary center that aims to promote critical thinking and effective action across the fields of Renewable Energy, Social Influence, Environment Policy, Enterprise, Environmental Markets, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services, and Human Behavior.
Explore the electronic home of the university’s transdisciplinary center for faculty.
Apply to participate or just browse syllabi developed by participants in this collaborative workshop.
Consider enrolling in a course with a sustainability focus. You can view a course inventory here.
Curricular resources for faculty.
For the semester following the workshop, faculty participants submit a syllabus for a course in which sustainability-related outcomes are integrated. These courses are either classes the faculty have been teaching and plan to teach again, or are completely new courses they are developing.
Members of this year’s cohort represented a breadth of disciplinary and campus homes: music, education, the ZSR Library, romance languages, chemistry, English, anthropology, communication, and the Reynolda Gardens public education program.
Ron Von Burg, assistant professor in the Department of Communications, and Luke Johnston, associate professor in the Department for the Study of Religions, both Magnolias Project alumni, facilitated this year’s workshop. Guest presenters, Yadkin Riverkeeper, Will Scott and Sylvia Oberle, Senior Fellow with the Pro Humanitate Institute, shared resources for designing course content to engage students in locally relevant issues.
One of this year’s participants reported that the experience “has helped me not only think about my classes, but also how to frame my own research to the public. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations we had, and the presentations did a great job of making the ideas we were discussing applicable.”
Each year this workshop results in an increased number of courses that support a wide variety of sustainability-related learning objectives. This approach fits well into the context of a liberal arts education– students who are exposed to multiple disciplinary perspectives have a more complete understanding of the context in which many of the current socio-environmental trends are situated. The 2017 cohort brought the number of Magnolias Curriculum Project participants up to 66.
This year’s Magnolias Curriculum Project was hosted by the Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability and the Office of Sustainability.
This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise. Faculty who would like to develop a new course module or an entirely new course that engages issues of sustainability and the environment are encouraged to apply.
The workshop will explore how we can meaningfully integrate sustainability—broadly defined—into our classrooms. Although we start by taking a close look at Wake Forest University and the larger Piedmont region, we invite participants to engage in local to global comparisons.
The Magnolia Project kicks off with a two-day workshop (May 10-11) that will offer opportunities to extend research and teaching horizons across disciplines and create new networks with fellow colleagues. Following the workshop, faculty participants prepare discipline-specific course materials on their own over the summer. They reconvene in the fall to discuss their insights and experiences. Participants receive a stipend of $500 ($250 upon completion of the workshop; $250 upon completion of a new or revised syllabus).
Project participants agree to:
- Read some materials prior to the workshop
- Participate in the full 2-day workshop on May 10-11, 2017
- Commit time during the summer to prepare or revise a syllabus and submit it in August
- Report back to the group in the fall semester
Interested? Applications will be accepted until April 17.
- Send a short description (one paragraph maximum) of how you plan to change an existing course, or develop a new one, that will incorporate environmental and/or sustainability issues to Kim Couch at email@example.com. Please include your name, departmental affiliation, phone number and e-mail address.
Want to know more?
Browse the Magnolias or Piedmont Project websites for example syllabi and faculty statements:
Come join a community of faculty searching for new ways to engage issues relevant to their fields.
The self-proclaimed “accidental activist” also delivered a public talk to students and faculty in the Byrum Welcome Center on Tuesday evening, telling vivid autobiographical stories of her relationship with the Earth that left audience members entranced and touched.
“I could sit and listen to her just read the dictionary,” said senior Alex Dean, a student of Williams’ seminar as well as an active listener of her talk.
Audience members were able to do just that. Midway through her speech, Williams read to audience members an abundance of words surrounding nature and organisms that had recently been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary and replaced with words like blog and networking.
“A lesson I will take with me from Terry is the idea that the language we use to interact with others can make a great impact,” said senior Maddie Saveliff, a student of Williams’ writing workshop and an attendant of the public talk. “By changing our rhetoric, we can shift our consciousness and recognize the need to be resistant.”
Just as easily as these terms are being removed from our language, our public land is being taken. 42 of our major national parks in the U.S. are currently threatened by oil drilling and fracking, according to the Wilderness Society. Williams encouraged the audience to treasure the “cornucopia of blessings” here in North Carolina, such as that of the Appalachian Mountains, Cape Hatteras, Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains.
These spaces, among other National Parks and monuments, are where Williams believes that we can find our place in the open space of democracy. Williams emphasized what a breeding ground this campus is for merging disciplines and inciting activism. For many, this is accomplished through personal experience.
“Never have we needed the notion of storytelling more,” Williams said.
Williams shared several of her own stories that moved the audience. One was a nightmare of a flash of light erupting in the desert that awakened her to the reality that several women in her family had fallen victim to cancer from the atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site during the 50s. She vowed to become a civil disobedient in the name of the women in her family that had passed.
“I think it was in that moment that I began to see the interconnectedness of all things, if not consciously then unconsciously” Williams said.
In both her seminar and public talk, she raised the pressing questions of what we can do to help. She encouraged students and faculty alike to take their love and anger for social and political issues and turn it into “sacred rage.”
“If we can learn to listen to the land,” Williams said, “then we can learn to listen to each other.”
Williams challenged the audience to think about their own essential gestures, as everybody has their own gift to use in the form of resistance. Even at just 19 years old, she said, students are holding a universe that needs to be known.
“It is the small things that bloom brightest,” Williams said. “We lose nothing by loving.”
Originally published in the Old Gold and Black.
Leavell and his wife, Rose Lane, own and operate a tree forest called Charlane Plantation in Bullard, Georgia. In his 2004 memoir, “Between Rock and a Home Place,” Leavell reflects on the wildly different lives he leads. His ‘day job’ at Charlane Plantation consists of waking up at 5 a.m., riding around on a tractor, pruning trees and being honored—twice—as a Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year and as a National Outstanding Tree Farmer.
During his visit to Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University, Leavell was able to merge his two worlds as a rock’n’roll keyboardist and a Georgia tree farmer together for a two-day event full of solo performances, a conservation panel discussion, and a tree planting.
On Nov. 10, shovels hit the ground as Leavell helped plant a white oak tree outside Farrell Hall near Poteat Field on the Wake Forest University campus. Leavell was joined by Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, chief sustainability officer, Hof Milam, executive vice president of Wake Forest, Andy Tennille, a freelance music journalist, photographer and curator of the “More Barn” concert series, as well as other members of the Wake Forest sustainability community.
Later that evening, Leavell joined Wake Forest’s Dr. Miles Silman, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation Professor of Conservation Biology and Director of the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, for a presentation and panel discussion on conservation and environmental stewardship.
Both speakers challenged the audience to take action and be good environmental stewards. Leavell emphasized that “being a good steward is hard work, but it’s important and it’s worth it.”
“His level of dedication to understanding sustainability—to using the land without using it up—is amazing,” said Silman in regards to Chuck’s conservation work.
The celebration of environmental stewardship and land conservation continued on Nov. 11 with a sold-out, solo concert at the Barn in Reynolda Village.
One thing is certain—Chuck holds his recognitions from the National Arbor Day Foundation, the Georgia Conservancy, and the Urban Forest Council equally high—or higher—than his numerous gold and platinum records.
“Rolling Stones keyboardist, multi-book author, owner of a profitable, sustainable farm—Chuck does it all,” Silman said.
This event was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES), in conjunction with the “More Barn” series at the Barn at Reynolda Village.
Click here to view photos from the event on Flickr.
Click here to read a piece about the tree planting by the Winston-Salem Journal.
The fifth annual Magnolias Curriculum Project brought together ten faculty members on May 11-12, 2016, to explore extending sustainability education across disciplines. Ron Von Burg, assistant professor in the Department of Communications, and Luke Johnston, associate professor of Religion and Environmental Studies, facilitated this year’s workshop.
The workshop aims to build an interdisciplinary community of scholars dedicated to addressing sustainability and empowering these scholars to incorporate sustainability into their own courses.
This year’s cohort was a great illustration of the breadth of faculty with participation from the following departments: divinity, art, politics and international affairs, education, English, psychology and anthropology.
“I was probably most wonderfully surprised by the range of colleagues I met and formed relationships with—I really feel everyone brought something new and interesting to my world and I want to continue these relationships,” a Magnolias Curriculum Project participant said.
During this two-day workshop, participants discussed sustainability literature, developed key learning objectives for their students, and shared information from their own unique fields of study. This innovative approach to curricular change provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating environment.
“I left the workshop invigorated with new ideas and with a better framework for understanding sustainability at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, regionally and globally,” a participant stated in the workshop evaluation.
Following the workshop, faculty participants submitted a syllabus for a course in which sustainability-related outcomes are integrated. These courses are either classes the faculty have been teaching and plan to teach again, or completely new courses they are developing.
An example of a new sustainability course offering is Andrew Gurstelle’s Introduction to Museum Studies which explores sustainable heritage development, the long-term sustainability of cultural sites, and the idea of cultural landscapes as social constructs.
Each year this workshop results in an increased number of courses that support a wide variety of sustainability learning objectives. This gives students from all disciplines the opportunity to pursue knowledge about sustainability through a variety of lenses. The 2016 cohort brought the number of Magnolias Curriculum Project participants up to 52.
The faculty’s revised and new syllabi are available online and serve as examples for future cohorts.
When asked what makes the Environmental Program at Wake Forest great, Stottlemyer says the strength of the program stems from the high level of engagement Wake Forest professors have with their students. As director, maintaining this high level of interactivity between professors and students is essential. Additionally, Stottlemyer aims to continue previous efforts to offer a broad range of interdisciplinary classes centered on the environment, create internship and scholarship opportunities, and incorporate experiential learning opportunities into the curriculum.
“We want to give them [students] opportunities to have a world-class environmental education, and we want to see them succeed,” Stottlemyer said.
Stottlemyer assumed the role of directorship on July 1, 2016.
This article was originally published by the WFU News Center.
Wake Forest University Professors John Knox and Justin Catanoso are attending the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, as representatives from more than 190 countries seek to work out a new international agreement on climate change.
Known as COP21, the 21st Conference of the Parties is the annual meeting of all countries that want to take action for the climate. The conference started Nov. 30 and continues through Dec. 11. Knox and Catanoso leave this week.
Knox is an internationally recognized expert on human rights law and international environmental law and serves as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment. Catanoso is director of the university’s journalism program and is a veteran journalist supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Both serve as board members for Wake Forest’s Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability and both have been busy raising awareness leading up to COP21 about why the Paris talks are so important.
“What makes it a little bit unusual is that each country will be deciding for itself what it can do,” said Knox. “There will not be a one-size-fits-all type of agreement.”
Before Thanksgiving, Knox and Catanoso hosted “Roadmap to Paris: Your Guide to the International Climate Talks” on campus, discussing the likely trajectory of these climate talks. They are both encouraged that this year’s talks will result in real impact as the largest countries responsible for carbon dioxide emissions — United States, China, India and the European Union — among others, are on board. A likely agreement will chart a path toward the world’s reduced reliance on coal, oil and gas and expanded use of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
To review the available coverage and learn more:
- New York Times article featuring Knox
- Raleigh News & Observer article by Catanoso featuring Knox, also ran in The Charlotte Observer
- Greensboro News & Record op-ed piece by Catanoso about how Pope Francis — who will have a delegation in attendance for the first time — may influence climate talks
- Thought Economics interview with Knox
- WGHP appearance by Catanoso to discuss climate change and Paris
- Winston-Salem Journal article featuring Knox and Catanoso
By Bonnie Davis and Lisa Snedeker of the WFU News Center
Anticipated speaker Dr. Eban Goodstein of Bard College found himself travel-locked in D.C. on November 10, unable to make his long-awaited appearance at Wake Forest.
The upshot? Goodstein still managed to deliver his message to students loud and clear: it’s now or never for college students to stake their claim in the national climate change conversation.
Two hours before the Republican debate kicked off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Goodstein settled in at Wake Forest via webcam to stress students’ role in mobilizing climate change initiatives despite the politicized efforts to keep the conversation off the table. Spearheading a new campaign called the Power Dialog, Goodstein is calling for students to engage in face-to-face discourse with climate legislators in all fifty states.
“There are lots of ways for students to offer their perspective on this,” said Goodstein. “And by sparking this discussion in all fifty states collectively, we’ll create a media platform. Presidential candidates will see that students want to have a voice in the matter.”
State-level climate change conversations were forced after President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan in August 2015. With the goal of reducing national carbon emissions from power plants by 32% by 2030, the Clean Power Plan requires each state to come up with an implementation program to meet specific emission reduction targets within fifteen years.
As the EPA’s pressure on states to enact policy changes reached beyond partisan tensions, Goodstein sought the opportunity to recruit educated young people who will witness the long-term impacts of today’s decisions.
“While countless industries weigh in on these matters, lawmakers aren’t connecting with students,” said Goodstein. “You’re the ones who will be alive to feel the effects of these measures in 2050, and your children will the ones reaping the consequences of our action or inaction in 2100.”
In creating the Power Dialog, Goodstein provides students with a voice in measures that will not only determine their future, but the future of the planet.
The Dialog is working now to organize a meeting with five hundred college students in every state capital during the week of April 4, 2016. These students will get a policy-making update from their state legislators and will be able to give input in the process.
In Raleigh, Governor McCroy and his advisors are currently devising a strategy to cut its emission rate from the power sector by at least 40% in the next fifteen years. While this conversation ensues, students from North Carolina have yet to join the 23 states already on board with the Dialog.
“It’s not an ordinary day out there and it’s not going to be an ordinary day for the rest of your lives,” said Goodstein. “You’re either going to change the future or you’re not.”
–By Taylor Olson, ’16
On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, change agents for sustainability across the Wake Forest campus gathered for the Champions of Change campus sustainability awards. The awards program recognizes the creativity and innovation of individuals and teams who work to integrate principles of sustainability into operations, teaching, and engagement. Dean of the School of Divinity, Gail O’Day, and Chief of Staff for the Office of the President, Mary Pugel, presented the awards.
Winners were recognized in four categories: Resource Conservation, Service and Social Action, Teaching Research and Engagement, and Bright Ideas.
- The Office of the Registrar and the Surplus Property Program won in the Resource Conservation category. This year, the Office of the University Registrar completed four projects that saved over 13,000 pieces of paper, as well as printing and mailing costs for the university. Since its start in 2011, the Surplus Property Program has diverted nearly 250,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill, repurposed over 3,000 pieces of furniture and other items for use on campus, captured close to 30,000 lbs of residential electronic waste through a free pickup program, and helped the university avoid over $1 million dollars of new purchase costs.
- Department of Religion faculty member Steve Boyd was named as a winner in the Service and Social Action category. Steve was recognized for his leadership of the Religion and Public Engagement Program and his statewide organizing of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future. Since its approval in 2011, 17 students have graduated with the Religion and Public Engagement concentration, and a record 12 more are set to graduate this year.
- Ron Von Burg was recognized for Teaching, Research and Engagement. Ron teaches the popular interdisciplinary undergraduate course Humanity & Nature; taught the communications workshop and led a graduate research course on Coasts and Climate Change in Belize this year for the new MA in Sustainability; and directs undergraduate students in writing and performing plays for school-aged children and “moot court”-style debates on sustainability issues annually. He is also an alumnus of Wake Forest’s own sustainability-across-the curriculum workshop, the Magnolias Project, and is co-facilitating that workshop for the second time this year.
- JL Bolt and the construction team of Facilities and Campus Services and Frank Shelton with Residence Life and Housing were recognized for a Bright Idea partnership. The construction team upcycled discarded bed frames from residence halls into white boards, bulletin board frames, safety bed rails, storage racks, benches, tables, mirror replacements, and mail boxes.
Additionally, Green Team captains Barbara Macri and Kate Ruley were named champions of change for their departmental leadership. As the Green Team captain for Human Resources, Barbara facilitated a department-wide sustainability goal-setting pilot, working collaboratively to develop a range of goals to meet the varying needs of her colleagues.
Kate coordinates the tracking of our institutional food purchases, identifying and calculating what we spend on regionally-grown, organic, and fair-trade-certified items. She mentors the team’s sustainability intern, and advocates for sustainable choices in menu development and procurement.
65% of our departments and units across campus are now led by Green Team captains – they support their colleagues with the resources and encouragement to integrate sustainability into everyday workplace decisions.
This February graduate students in the Applied Sustainability class visited TS Designs, a Certified Benefit Corporation making t-shirts in Burlington, North Carolina. The students spent the morning with company President, Eric Henry, who aims to create the “highest quality, most sustainable, printed apparel,” measuring success against the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Henry discussed his take on sustainability, and the vision for the company that calls North Carolina home.
Henry’s vision, and triple bottom line approach, is a consequence of the 1990’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TS Designs, which Henry had operated since 1977, nearly closed its doors when customers and competitors fled to Mexico for cheaper labor and cheaper inputs all across the supply chain. The company, whose bread and butter was 50-cent screen prints for some of the world’s largest apparel brands, could not maintain a commitment to keeping anything local — NAFTA had all but eliminated that possibility. Henry was forced to reinvent if he was to stay in business.
Now TS Designs’ product is more than an automated screen print — it’s a t-shirt, and what’s behind the t-shirt: the set of values a company operating on a human-scale holds. In its reinvention, Henry and his colleagues consciously created a model that is based
on human-scale relationships across the supply chain. By keeping it local, they keep it accountable. Henry is accountable to his employees, and they to him; he’s accountable to his suppliers, and they to him. Scott McCullough, MA’15, one of the students on the trip noted that “TS Designs is a business that not only serves its customers, but serves its community in a number of innovative and meaningful ways. Eric understands that a business can’t be sustainable and resilient if it doesn’t seek to improve the community around it. It was really refreshing and inspiring to see what Eric and TS Designs are doing.”
The critical tool that TS Designs implements to achieve success, and accountability, is full transparency. When you buy a Cotton of the Carolinas t-shirt, one of TS Designs’ innovative brands, you support a “radically” transparent supply chain. Turn the shirt inside out, and the colors of the thread give you access to a map and the ability to track your tee, literally from dirt to shirt. According to Andrew Wilcox, MA’15, “…it creates a business ecosystem where money and resources stay in local communities and regions instead of hemorrhaging out to far off factories and headquarters. The multiplier effect of local business is compelling.”
Transparency for TS Designs isn’t just about supply chains; Henry was even transparent with the students about sustainability being a journey, not a destination. He’s not trying to hold up the company as a model of all things perfectly sustainable (whatever that might mean). It’s not perfect; it’s blemished in places, but it reflects an important journey on a values-driven path. His model clearly reflects what is important to him, and what is clearly important to his many customers.
In the context of a course on Applied Sustainability, this on-site lesson provided students the opportunity to interrogate theories supporting and opposing values-based business models with a business leader who’s got skin in the game.
Jon Clift, MA in Sustainability Associate Director of Outreach