Think Green Thursday
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to explore sustainability through interactive, educational, and fun events every Thursday when regular classes are in session. Read more here and check our calendar to see what’s coming up.
Films and Lectures
Wake Forest regularly hosts nationally and internationally recognized speakers and award-winning films on themes relevant to sustainability. Read about past films and lectures and check our calendar for upcoming events.
Earth Day Celebrations
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Did you get a chance to see those artsy trees on the Mag Quad for Earth Day? If you did, you witnessed Wake a Forest, a play on the United Nations’ Make a Forest campaign. In 2011, the UN proclaimed that year to be dedicated to the forest. Their aim was to highlight the forestry industry while shedding light on the adverse effects of deforestation at the same time. To do this, cultural institutions were prompted to create their own trees across the globe while portraying what a forest meant to them. A sample of these trees can be found at makeaforest.org.
These trees ranged from typographical trees crafted out of shoe laces to walls covered in suggested tree forms. The types of trees were wide-ranging. A team of Wake Forest students headed by De’Noia Woods and Kelsey Zalimeni decided to create their own Wake a Forest to contribute to the project. Individuals or groups who participated had one constraint – they had to use found and reclaimed materials. After much thought, students took the idea and ran with it by creating trees out of materials from plaster to old street signs. The types of trees varied as a reflection of the interest of the group or the personality of the individual student. The forest emulated the array of students that attend Wake Forest University in a very creative and unique way. Check out the WAF trees at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sustainablewfu/.
Contributed by De’Noia Woods ‘13, Office of Sustainability Photography Intern
Food For Thought 2013, the Office of Sustainability’s Earth Day Celebration, was a great success. The fair was held on Manchester Plaza on April 20th. Students, faculty, staff, and other members of the community enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day full of live music, live animals, educational booths on sustainable practices, and great food and drink. The Office of Sustainability is grateful to attendees, vendors, educators, volunteers, and performers who participated. The success of the fair would not have been possible without each, who helped further foster knowledge and engagement in sustainable practices.
Celebrate Earth Day at Wake Forest on April 20, 2013 from 12:00 to 6:00 on Manchester Plaza, affectionately known as the Mag Quad. This year’s celebration theme is Food For Thought. The fair is being held in conjunction with the Food Justice Summit, a conference exploring food justice issues from local, national, and international perspectives.
The schedule of activities at the fair will begin at noon with family-friendly activities. All audiences are welcome and encouraged to attend at any time between noon and 6:00 pm.
local food vendors,
and beer tastings hosted by City Beverage.
The tension in addressing environmental issues is always: how can we solve environmental problems without harming our economy? On a more individual level, it is often about the personal sacrifices we must make to ensure a collective sustainable world. The panel entitled Good for Me, Good for Us? addressed this tension with three distinct speakers: Julian Agyeman, Professor and Chair of Urban Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Sabine O’Hara, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Services at University of the District of Columbia, and Larry Rasmussen, Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.
I’ve now been to dozens of panels and events on sustainability, but this one was different. This conversation among the three panelists was the first I’ve seen to feature morality as a central component to sustainability. In this sense, there was no discussion of the effects of climate change or a debate on the problems of overfishing. Rather there was a genuine ethical conversation about the ways people can work together or individually to make changes to the system.
I found Dr. Agyeman’s discussion of a movement towards sharing economies to be the most fascinating. As an example, Agyeman explained that we don’t need to buy a power drill that we will only use once, but can instead borrow it from a tool-sharing network. Examples of sharing economies exist all over, whether it’s couch-surfing, bike-sharing or car-sharing programs like Zipcar. I came away from the event feeling a need to change the way I participate in our economic system, because every dollar I spend is a vote for the type of future I want. Senior Janak Padhiar reflected on Dr. Agyeman’s contributions, “I was particularly inspired and intrigued by the ways in which the notions of spatial justice and inter-culturalism are vital to progressive, diverse urban communities; cities require responsible planning and multiple mechanisms of innovation, technology, infrastructure, education, and civic planning to positively advance human equality.” All three speakers made mention of social justice and equality as keys to a sustainable future.
Dr. Sabine O’Hara spoke from a background in neo-classical economics, and gave a different perspective from a field that often lacks inclusion of environmental problems in its analysis. As a college dean at a land-grant university in an urban environment, O’Hara, brought attention to the fact that that universities must engage with local communities to create a more sustainable future. First-year student Lauren Formica enjoyed the holistic nature of the panel. She said, “each of these individuals can claim expertise in a field in which ethics and values come into play everyday.”
Dr. Larry Rasmussen spoke with urgency of the need to change the way our society functions, as he made reference to the tragedy of the commons. Rasmussen asked the key question, “Can capitalism be fully ecologized?” His critique of the economic system included mentions of social justice related to justice for nature. He left these questions open for students to ponder.
Often discussions of environmental issues rely too heavily on trying to hammer home the scientific facts about why we need to change our behaviors. This panel, however, took a more philosophical approach to enlighten students on the ways they can revolutionize and change our current economic system. Senior Emily Bachman appreciated the focus on equity and environmental justice. She explained, “I think this focus is vital in making the sustainability movement about all people, rather than a privilege of the wealthy.” I was inspired by the open, diverse views and discussion on this particular panel and struck by how it catered to several different areas of study and backgrounds.
Sanders McNair, Campus Garden Intern (’13)
On March 6th, assistant professor of mathematics, Dr. Rob Erhardt, addressed a full room of eager listeners on the topic of global climate disruption. His talk, sponsored by the Math Club and titled Measuring Climate Change, drew a crowd from across campus, including Dr. Erhardt’s fellow Mathematics faculty, students, and staff members from the Office of Sustainability and the Wake Forest Humanities Institute.
Dr. Erhardt hoped to achieve two goals through his talk: “I wanted to show the Math Club students one way they could apply their mathematical education and I wanted to give a general talk about the science of climate change [for other members of the audience].”
The talk began with basic definitions of the words climate and climate change. Dr. Erhardt, a statistician himself, proudly pointed out that the American Meteorological Association defines climate change as “any systematic change in the long term statistics of climate events (such as temperature, pressure, or winds) sustained over several decades or longer.”
After defining terms, Dr. Erhardt laid out the talk’s single equation: a calculation of Earth’s temperature based on the interaction of solar energy received by the Earth, reflectivity (the degree to which Earth reflects solar energy), and emissivity (the degree to which of Earth’s atmosphere allows radiated solar energy to escape into space).
Dr. Erhardt explained that, while solar input remains roughly constant, both the reflectivity of Earth’s surface and the emissivity of Earth’s atmosphere can change. As Dr. Erhardt pointed out, these factors have changed since the mid-20th century, resulting in an overall increase in global surface temperatures. Dr. Erhardt cited the conclusions of the most recent report by the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which stated “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and attributed most of the increase in global average temperature to human beings, who have increased the atmosphere’s concentration of greenhouse gasses, changing the atmosphere’s emissivity.
Dr. Erhardt went on to discuss how global climate models can predict how much temperatures will rise in the future based on different scenarios. He also reviewed current research trends, which involve creating regional climate models and grappling with the difficulty of “single event attribution,” or attempts to take one particular extreme weather event (like a hurricane) and determine if the changed climate has increased the risk of such an event.
“Climate science can be intimidating. I wanted to present the science in an accessible, friendly way”, says Dr. Erhardt. He explains, “People have a general respect for scientists, but I want them to understand a little bit more about what climate scientists are actually doing, like where they are getting their data and how they are using it.”
On March 27th, Dr. Erhardt will deliver Measuring Climate Change at a brown bag lunch for the Biodiversity and Environmental Science group of the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability.
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Get ready, get set, reduce! This spring, students can join their peers around the nation in cutting down their electricity and water consumption during the Campus Conservation Nationals. With about 200 participating campuses, students compete against one another on each campus, and between campuses nationally.
Starting on March 18, at the kick-off event, students can sign up to participate. During the first week of the three-week competition, students can sign up for efficiency assessments of their rooms. A volunteer EcoRep will come to each student’s room during the second week to survey their daily conservation habits and to teach them how to become even more efficient. Students who sign up for an assessment at the kick-off event will get a free t-shirt.
In a battle of the residence halls, students at Wake Forest University will compete to reduce rates of consumption. The winners will be treated to a frozen yogurt party catered by Brynn’s and will have the satisfaction of doing their part to cut down energy consumption. To stay updated on each building’s progress, individuals can visit buildingdashboard.net/wakeforest. The site allows students to learn more about different conservation habits and to commit to new, more efficient changes. Throughout the competition, residents will also learn more about the sources of our campus electricity and the effects our choices have on climate change.
The Campus Conservation Nationals brings to light the importance of conservation, and incentivizes the development of good habits. The national competition started three years ago. Ravish Paul, the Energy Manager in the Office of Energy Management in Facilities and Campus Services, facilitates Wake Forest’s participation in the competition in partnership with Residence Life and Housing. Junior Claire Nagy-Kato, an intern for the office of Energy Management, will lead this year’s efforts.
Claire encourages everyone to attend the kick-off event, where everyone can look forward to engaging in fun activities and enjoying free food. Participants will be able to trade in their incandescent light bulbs for energy efficient replacements and learn more about conservation opportunities. She looks forward to seeing the effects of the competition on our campus because she sees it as a “good way to get students interested in something that is an important and pertinent issue.”
If you are interested in taking the next step in reducing consumption, contact Claire Nagy-Kato at and sign up to be a hall captain for Campus Conservation Nationals. The competition will end on April 7, 2013.
By Kiana Courtney, Office of Sustainability Communications and Outreach Intern
Self-interest, community values, and a sustainable future
Can self-interested behaviors and community values coexist? Join us for a lively panel discussion that probes the realms of morality, justice, capitalism and sustainability in answering this question.
- Julian Agyeman, Professor and Chair of Urban Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
- Sabine O’Hara, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences, University of the District of Columbia
- Larry Rasmussen, Professor Emeritus of social ethics, Union Theological Seminary
Opening remarks by WFU Professor of Management and Tylee Wilson Chair in Business Ethics, Sean Hannah
Moderated by WFU Provost Rogan Kersh
Environmental artist Vibha Galhotra will be coming to Winston-Salem this month from her home in Delhi, India. Galhotra will address Wake Forest students, faculty, and staff in a series of lectures taking place on October 24 and 25, before the preview of her exhibition Metropia on October 25 at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). The exhibition will run from October 26 to February 10, 2013. Her collection muses on the environmental changes accompanying the rapid urbanization taking place in parts of India.
Galhotra is part of a broad community of artists who have drawn inspiration from modern environmental change.
In 2008, Brazilian visual artist Vik Muniz shed light on the life of sanitation workers through a series of portraits made from recyclables in his “Pictures of Garbage.” Both the subjects and the medium were drawn from the now-closed Jardim Gramacho landfill in Rio de Janeiro.
Photographic artist Chris Jordan provides a unique perspective on the transformation of the American landscape in his collection, “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait.”
In the spring of 2011 the Office of Sustainability’s very own DeNoia Woods (WFU ‘12) created an exhibition entitled, “Green, it’s not a color, it’s a movement,” which was hosted at the StArt Gallery in Reynolda Village. According to Woods, her exhibition was comprised of, “artwork created by students as interpretations of environmental consciousness through the use of reclaimed materials.”
Another student Yana Klein (WFU ‘14), created a blog this fall for the express purpose of, “connect[ing] environmental issues with the glue of artistic expression.” Check out her blog to keep a pulse on environmental art at the university, in Winston-Salem, and beyond.
By Joey DeRosa Communications and Outreach Intern
The 10 Days of Celebrating the Earth were a big success. One hundred fifty people pledged to make a sustainable change during the 10 Days. There was an opportunity to learn about hydraulic fracturing, to shop for local food at the Reynolda Village Farmers Market and to honor our trees when the university received Tree Campus USA certification for the first time. Did you miss some of the days’ events? You can sample some highlights below and check out the photos in our flickr gallery.
We would like to thank all of our 10 Days partners for their collaboration on this series of events: Campus Recreation, Landscaping Services, Residence Life & Housing, the Office of the Chaplain, ZSR Library, Dining Services, Volunteer Service Corps, Facilities and Campus Services, and the WFU Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability. We’d also like to thank all of the students, faculty, staff and community members who came out to support sustainability on campus. We couldn’t do what we do without you.
Join the Piedmont Environmental Alliance for the 7th annual Piedmont Earth Day Fair. Admission and parking are both free at this fun, family-friendly event. Know someone else on campus who wants to go? Consider walking, biking or carpooling to the event to be kind to the Earth.
When: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Dixie Classic Fair Grounds
Spend an hour or the whole day exploring the fair. From great food to children’s activities to educational exhibits, there’s something for everyone.
Over 100 exhibitors will demonstrate the sustainable features of their products or services, highlight local initiatives to protect the environment, and share their passion for sustainable solutions to modern day living.
Children’s activities are sure to delight all ages. From parades, face painting and pony rides to children’s exhibits featuring bees, birds, snakes, plants, butterflies and much more. Learn more here.
In-depth, hands-on demonstrations will be conducted in the Demonstrations Tent and include topics such as composting, saving energy, water conservation and more. View the schedule here.
Live music all day on the main stage will feature well-known local and national talent, with something for everyone, including folk, bluegrass, rock, and acoustic powerhouse. View the talented line-up.
A wide range of delicious food, from Mexican prepared-to-order, organic hotdogs, vegetarian and vegan dishes, pizza fresh from a wood-fired oven, ice cream, gelato and more. View the food line-up.