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Sustainability at Wake Forest

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Campus Sustainability Awards

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

2015 Champions of Change award winners

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.

Learn more about the Champions of Change award program and explore a list of last year’s winners.

Arbor Day & Campus Beautification Celebration

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Celebrate Arbor Day on Thursday, April 16th from 4:00-6:00pm. The event kicks off with a tree planting ceremony behind Huffman Residence Hall at 4:00pm.

Following the ceremony, volunteers will split into groups to beautify the campus. All participants will enjoy a cookout featuring Grayson Natural grassfed burgers. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

This event is sponsored by Greeks Go Green, Landscaping Services, and WFU Residence Life & Housing.

Sorority T-Shirts Get a Makeover

Friday, March 20th, 2015
ggg shirts

The t-shirts from three of the organizations: Kappa Beta Gamma, Chi Omega, and Kappa Delta.

Sororities at Wake Forest University are notorious for the number of shirts that bear their letters. Each spring, hundreds of underclass women join Greek organizations and, as part of a campus wide tradition, are gifted previous semesters’ t-shirts. In a way, this “passing down” of t-shirts can be viewed as a sustainable ritual. On the other hand, it does not quell the flow of ordering among these groups.

The global impact of the perpetual purchasing of t-shirts is often lost on the women who are placing the orders. The average conventional cotton t-shirt requires about 700 gallons of water and a half pound of pesticide and herbicide for production. Between the growing, manufacturing, and transporting processes, each shirt is also responsible for a significant amount of energy use.

Last fall, Greeks Go Green, a network of peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, started an initiative to increase conscious consumerism throughout the Greek community at Wake Forest. The effort encourages individuals to incorporate measures of environmental and social impacts into purchasing decisions.  Greeks Go Green interns Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15) identified purchasing among Greek organizations as a primary contributor to members’ ecological footprints.  They worked to teach representatives of each organization how to identify the ecological and social impacts of their purchases so that they could guide their organizations.

At the end of the annual January sorority recruitment period, each chapter gives out new t-shirts to their members. This equates to roughly 1,400 t-shirts distributed in a single day. The impact of the t-shirts distributed on bid day at Wake Forest equates to about 980,000 gallons of water used and 700 pounds of herbicides/pesticides used. The effects of the excessive use of water and herbicides for these shirts are enormously detrimental to the global environment.

Cotton is a fragile and resource intensive crop, and while there is no simple solution to reducing the excessive amount of water and chemicals required to produce these shirts, there are ways to lessen the environmental impacts of an individual cotton t-shirt. In the fall of 2014, the Greeks Go Green representatives presented information to their chapters on ways to order t-shirts in (un)conventional ways—ways that would be less environmentally resource intensive and that may have beneficial financial impacts in the regional economy. Options included buying locally sewn and printed shirts, shirts made from regionally and/or organically grown cotton, as well as garments printed with water-based dyes. The interns suggested that the sororities on campus aim to use organic cotton or recycled fabric t-shirts as a minimum baseline for the shirts they would be ordering for the January 12th bid day.

Four of the sororities chose to participate in the initiative, adding up to approximately 732 t-shirts. These sororities were Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Kappa Beta Gamma, and Kappa Delta. Their purchases included garments from Port and Company, Royal Apparel, and Alternative Earth’s environmentally preferable lines.

The campaign aims to support a growing trend of environmentally and socially preferable purchasing among Greek organizations throughout the spring of 2015, with an ongoing push to reduce the volume of purchasing overall.

Bridget Keeler (’15) and Emily Pence (’15), Greeks Go Green Interns

Call for 2015 Sustainability Interns

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

sustainabilityinternAre you a student interested in making a difference and gaining professional development experience? The following paid internships are available to all Wake Forest University students for fall 2015. In order to apply, please fill out this form. Unless otherwise noted, these internships are with the Office of Sustainability. Please note, interns are required to attend an on-campus sustainability orientation August 19th – 21st.

Internship applications are due by Friday, April 10th at 5:00pm.

Campus Garden 
The intern will collaborate with expert garden mentors, faculty, staff, student, and community volunteers to manage the campus garden across from Spry Soccer Stadium on Polo Road. Management entails all aspects of growing seasonally appropriate crops including, but not limited to, developing and maintaining rotation and cover cropping plans, starting and transplanting crops, watering, mulching, and composting food/yard waste.  The intern will coordinate garden volunteer opportunities, explore service learning possibilities with interested faculty, and organize major events in the campus garden. The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, outgoing, and will have strong organizational skills. Experience with medium-scale community gardening is strongly preferred.

Greeks Go Green 
The intern will co-lead the Greeks Go Green initiative by holding weekly meetings with established Greeks Go Green representatives and organizing monthly presentations and events throughout the semester. The intern must be an active member of a recognized Greek organization on campus. Excellent leadership and organizational skills are required.

ARAMARK – Sustainability in Dining 
Learn more about the responsibilities of the Sustainability in Dining intern on ARAMARK’s website.

Facilities & Campus Services – Energy Management

The intern will assist Facilities and Campus Services with communications, energy competitions, monitoring energy usage on the campus through computer programs and by physically walking around the campus, occasionally during late hours. Other responsibilities include gathering, compiling, and analyzing data from various WFU departments, coordinating with the Office of Sustainability and attending meetings as necessary. The intern must have experience using Excel and a passion for reducing energy usage.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for an internship, but don’t see it on our list? Feel free to submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways to promote sustainability on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Are you a Champion of Change?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

13986404976_fc43a405df_zHave you facilitated a change to a sustainable practice on campus? Are you teaching a sustainability-focused course or leading a research effort with sustainability-centered outcomes? We want to hear about it!

On April 22, 2015 Wake Forest will host our second annual Champions of Change award ceremony.

Complete this form by April 7, 2015 to nominate yourself or someone else as a Champion of Change for campus sustainability. Explore a list of last year’s winners.

We will accept nominations for awards that honor sustainability through:

  • resource conservation (energy, water, or waste reduction),
  • academics (teaching, research, engaged learning),
  • service and social action, and
  • bright ideas (innovative ideas that have been or could be implemented).

PRO+ECT Event Increases Awareness

Thursday, January 29th, 2015
Protect2

Click to view more photos from the event

For a conservation event with potentially apocalyptic connotations, Thursday’s “Pledging Responsibility for Oceans and Environmental Change Today” in Brendle Recital Hall was frank, optimistic and self-aware: panelist and scientist Nancy Knowlton even pledged to keep audience members “not utterly depressed,” to noticeable titters.

The panel, an effort to engage the public on the importance of oceans and their nascent fragility as a result of climate change, garnered a sizable crowd, perhaps partially due to the celebrity of the panelists speaking: Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic oceanographer; Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of Natural History; and Amanda Leland, vice president for Oceans at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Despite the preliminary call for optimism, the scientists made the audience aware of the current dire state of the world’s oceans. Overfishing and pollution have ravaged our oceans to noticeable decline: species are becoming extinct, including New England’s famed Atlantic cod. Forty percent of fisheries are in jeopardy.

The implications, Leland stated, are as environmental as they are economic: Somali pirates originated as fisherman who ran out of fish to extract. In addition, three million of the world’s population depends on the oceans as its only source of protein.

Knowlton and Leland revealed that the solution to ocean deterioration lies largely in policy, and that increased management of fishing policies can improve fish quantities in the ocean and decrease overall waste.

However, in a visit to an undergraduate and graduate lab classroom earlier that day, Earle argued that extracting any organisms from the ocean would be problematic to the structure of the food chain, according to Wake Forest professor Dr. Katie Lotterhos, who attended the earlier session and whose area of research is marine biology.

Hope for ocean renewal is within reach, the scientists said, with policy and attitude change: “Fish are not just clumps of meat waiting for us to extract them,” said Earle.

Instead, proper fishing and ocean regulations have the capacity to revitalize communities, ecosystems, and expose the “ocean’s natural resilience.”

Lotterhos, who invited the three scientists to campus, hoped the event left people “feeling cautiously optimistic.”

“We will have to take responsibility soon if we want to have sustainable ocean ecosystems, but it is not too late yet,” she said.

By Elena Dolman (’15), Staff Writer

 

Choreography: Dance & Nature

Monday, January 5th, 2015

dance-photo-enewsletter2Dance is an increasingly popular art form for the investigation of cultural understandings of nature. Associate Professor of Dance, Christina Soriano, engaged her students in just such an investigation this semester. Soriano, who was a member of the 2014 Magnolias Curriculum Project cohort, modified her Dance Composition class to incorporate sustainability.

Soriano challenged her students to choreograph a piece based on nature, specifically something growing in Reynolda Gardens. She asked them to observe various plants, and then choose one to explore, taking into account its color, structure, growth and movement; how it might change with the seasons, and how it might react to light. With this information, the students developed their own movement studies, aligning their dances with nature.

After the assignment, the class performed Anna Halprin’s Planetary Dance to witness how other choreographers integrate nature themes into their work.

The students were also asked to consider how an art form like dance might become more sustainable through rehearsal, repetition, and thoughtful use of time and resources. She encouraged them to consider what made dance sustainable, and to journal their thoughts and experiences.

Annie Stockstill, a student in Soriano’s class, reflected that by continuing to dance well-known pieces, “I am preserving the ongoing life of the dances, and therefore acting out sustainability.” Serena Cates expressed similar feelings, stating “Personally, I choose to perceive dance as sustainable because, although the technique, style, or choreography alters over time, the motivation and impact of it has remained.”

Shiva at the Forest: In Review

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Busby

Molly Dutmers/Old Gold & Black

I was introduced to the work of Vandana Shiva only a year ago.  It was a hot, spring day in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Pro Humanitate Institute’s Shelley Sizemore and I were unwinding with other Wake Alternative Break participants after a day on an urban farm.  Needless to say, food justice and food security were already on the brain, making the introduction of Shiva’s work impeccably timed.  The introduction, and resulting insatiable intrigue, were facilitated by none other than Shelley herself.  She was reading Shiva’s “Staying Alive” at the time, and shared several quotes from the book’s opening pages.  Each quote was poignant, unapologetic, and pointed to the various ways in which some human practices have corroded balance, both ecological and otherwise. For me, the handful of quotes demonstrated Shiva’s deep understanding of nuanced need, and prompted my interest in her work.  Additionally, and importantly, I desired to better understand my own role in contributing to the sustainable, conscious agricultural and ecological practices our world so desperately needs.

When I learned that Shiva was visiting Wake Forest, I was overjoyed.  The opportunity to attend her keynote, and engage further with her writing through book clubs hosted on Wake’s campus, was immensely appealing.  In truth, neither engagement disappointed.  At the “Staying Alive” book club, I was surrounded by members of the Wake Forest community and of the broader, all-encompassing Winston-Salem community.  My book club co-host was a former member of Forsyth Local Food, a local consortium that works to further program development and food policy within the existing Forsyth community food system.  Another group participant was a student like myself, whose work developing local food related entrepreneurial ventures opened his eyes to matters of accessibility and convenience in the world of local food.  Yet another participant was the owner of a local composting center, and thus provided interesting insights with regard to waste, costs, and sustainability.  Surrounded by a myriad of rich perspectives, my understanding of Shiva’s text, and of the needs of our community, deepened. Each book club participant hailed from a different place and had experienced different things where food and agriculture were concerned.  Despite these differences, we all agreed on the importance of looking to the future, and prioritizing the various facets of food justice and food security.

Like the book club, Shiva’s keynote was enriching.  Her fiery support of local, diverse, sustainable agriculture, and equally fiery denouncement of genetically modified foods and destructive industrial practices, probed me.  As an audience member, I was forced to, again, reexamine my own practices in honest ways, and think holistically about the impacts I create, both long and short term.  I found myself agreeing with Shiva’s words in some areas, and pushing back in others.  I  thought about the ways in which her proposed policies would impact those whose hunger needs were satiated by  industrially produced aid, and what support these communities might require during transitions from larger scale production to smaller scale, sustainable practices.   My ruminations were many, but importantly, my gratitude and appreciation for Vandana Shiva were reinforced. Her work is renowned for its emphasis on sustainability, consciousness, and demonstrated appreciation of local knowledge—a practice all but forgotten in many corners of the world.  As a student, I am encouraged and inspired to do my part, daily.  As a community, we should all be inspired.

Contributed by Elizabeth Busby (’15)

New Academic Year Brings New Opportunities for the Sustainability House

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
A few members of the Sust'y House dress up for their "First Day of School" photo, that also hangs in the house.

A few members of the Sust’y House dress up for a funny “First Day of School” photo.

The sustainability house, most commonly referred to as the “Sust’y House,” has experienced a revival this year and it is truly better than ever. This eclectic community of environmentally conscious students once called 1141 Polo Road “home,” but sadly had to part ways with the beautiful house due to structural damage in the basement. Last year, the Sust’y Community experienced a bit of a diaspora, spread out between a tiny four-person house, a north campus apartment, and a room in the Ahuva house.

This year, however, Sust’y is officially back, with everyone under one roof. Equipped with two porches and ample room for 10 students, the Sustainability House has found a gracious new home at 1157 Polo Road. Over the years, this theme living community has become an integral part of life at Wake Forest, most prominently known for its delicious spaghetti dinner nights and its always-welcoming environment. Alyshah Aziz, a junior living in the house, says “It’s a place where students from all different pockets of campus come together.” It is one of the few communities at Wake Forest where you can find true diversity of interests and social circles; membership ranges from the Cycling Club, to Gender Equality Allies, computer science, Office of Sustainability interns, and even members of Greek life.

Despite the diversity among the members, there is a palpable feeling of unity within the house. “This house has gone beyond a residential area, it has become a place where we find family,” says Ann Nguyen, a new house member this year.  The Sustainability House is a reminder of the importance of exploring life outside the comfortable realms of our small social circles, and of finding common ground and friendship as Demon Deacons.  As theme program assistant David Hughes reflects, “For me, Sust’y means making the world a more habitable place, both ecologically and socially.  It is a place that strives to be a welcoming sanctuary, and a hub to promote sustainability through engaging the community.”

This year, the Sust’y House is rich with old and new faces, as well as old and new traditions. In addition to the regular homemade spaghetti dinner nights, residents and friends are also enjoying Quesadilla Nights on Thursdays.  Both house members and regular visitors are very excited for this academic year and renewed community at the Sustainability House.

By Andrea Becker (’16)

True Value Meals

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
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Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry

My family and I live on a 22-acre farm in Stokes County.  We are serious gardeners. I can’t remember the last time I bought a tomato at the store and I have saved my own okra and basil seeds each year for over a decade.  Now late October, we have over 60 garlic heads up in the garden and have put the cold frame in place.  We also raise Shetland sheep, a very hardy heritage wool breed.  For a few years we raised heritage turkeys (Bourbon Reds) and maintain a flock of about 30 free-range laying hens and sell their eggs to wonderful people on campus.  Sometimes I go to meetings and people say, “Oh, you are the egg lady.”  All of this effort supplies fabulous, fresh and taste-laden ingredients to cook with.  At my house, we eat very well.

But all of these farming endeavors do not pay the mortgage.  My husband and I are both faculty in the Department of Chemistry, and Bruce currently serves as Associate Provost of Research.  In the Chemistry Department, teaching slots are a common topic of discussion.  We never have enough faculty members to meet demand for all the courses required for our majors and pre-med students.  We run out of faculty teaching slots every semester and work hard to fill the needs of our students.  Because of this, we are truly limited in the number of First Year Seminars (FYS) we can offer each year.  Faculty who have developed FYS offerings offer them on a rotating basis.

I have taught the FYS True Value Meals several times in the past.  According to the syllabus, True Value Meals “has been designed to develop the analytical and critical thinking skills of students, and their ability to express in writing and aloud their opinions and ideas, in a setting that focuses on the production, processing distribution and eating of food.”  It is an ideal topic for the FYS, and a topic that I am passionate about.  Luckily, my turn in the rotation came during the fall 2014 semester.

By coincidence, the semester I was offering a food-centered FYS class, the Office of Sustainability organized Make Every Bite Count, a speaker series about the food we grow and eat that challenges us to imagine how we can sustainably feed the world.  Students are required to attend the events and we sit together as a group. In the following class meeting, the discussion is centered on frank analysis of each event and how it compares with other course material.  In twenty years of teaching at Wake, I have never seen students as fired up as they were the day after viewing the documentary GMO OMG.  I have no doubt that the talk by Vandana Shiva on the challenges of feeding a growing world population will be just as powerful, if not more so.

Since I taught True Value Meals last, the sustainability movement on campus has blossomed.  I was able to participate in the Magnolias Project, which strives to integrate sustainability across the curriculum.  The campus garden has grown both in size and organization. Campus Kitchen now has dedicated space on campus and has expanded its programming. All of these have combined for wonderful service-learning opportunities for my students.  Each student is required to complete 18 hours of food-related service with community partners to enhance their readings for the course and aid class discussion.  What have they been doing? The mid-term logs of service hours showed that they have been gleaning food from the Cobblestone Farmers Market for redistribution to food-insecure families; repackaging food from the on-campus dining hall for delivery to persons in need; making sandwiches for homeless individuals on Saturday mornings; turning plots, compost and planting fall crops.  All of this effort has helped the partner agencies AND the students’ learning.  Our class discussions are livelier because they are all experiencing different aspects of food culture in their work outside of class. And the students actually enjoy their service learning hours.  It’s a nice break from reading and writing and gives them time to reflect on course material and try to integrate all the different pieces. Some students have found a “niche” at the university through their service learning partners. I am astounded by the number of students who want to become shift leaders for Campus Kitchen or interns with the campus garden. It’s helped me realize how important extra-curricular activities are to students’ overall wellness.

I can say with confidence that this semester students are the most engaged in my FYS material, thinking more deeply and broadly.  I encourage all faculty to find a topic they are passionate about and use the plentiful teaching resources here at Wake to develop a class that will impact students.  From teaching workshops on community engagement and sustainability to on-campus service learning opportunities, our university has a bounty of support for engaged learning.

By Dr. Angela King, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Chemistry