Get involved with the Office of Sustainability
Depending on your level of interest, there are many different ways to work directly with the Office of Sustainability. Leaders of sustainability-related student groups gather twice a year to exchange information and coordinate their efforts.
Volunteer Listserv – Be the first to know about volunteer opportunities
Green Graduation Pledge – Graduating seniors commit to sustainability after Wake Forest
Greeks Go Green – Peer-to-peer education within Greek life at Wake Forest
Sustainability Ambassadors – Student sustainability peer educators at Wake Forest
Sustainability Internships – Available internships and application form
Student groups with a sustainability-related focus
Becoming a member of these student groups and organizations is another way to contribute to building a sustainable campus community.
Sustainability Theme House – A chance for students to immerse themselves in sustainable living
EcoTHEO – Student organization at the Wake Forest School of Divinity
Net Impact Club – Student organization at the Wake Forest Schools of Business
Student Environmental Action Coalition – Wake Forest’s student-run environmental group
Outdoor Pursuits – An outdoor adventure program for students
Campus Kitchen – A food recycling and service group
Alyshah Aziz graduated Cum Laude with a major in Politics & International Affairs and a minor in Middle East & South Asian Studies. Alyshah served as an Alternative Transportation Intern for six consecutive semesters. She is working as a Business Analyst within Deloitte’s Federal Human Capital Consulting division.
Alyshah’s reflection on the internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability helped me strengthen my skills in research, writing, marketing, and creativity. My time in the office and my friendships with Dedee, Hannah, Annabel, initiative co-sponsors, and interns are invaluable to me. My biggest takeaway that I will always carry with me is to think critically of what I read, hear, and see. The weekly intern meetings taught me to listen to what I hear and/or see and then investigate. My internship has lead me to view the world and all the activities of humankind from a holistic perspective.
Over 200 WFU graduates made an enduring commitment to sustainability by signing the Green Graduation pledge, an opportunity that over 100 other colleges and universities offer their graduates. All signatories received a reusable travel mug to reinforce sustainable habits. The mugs are printed with Wake Forest’s Green Graduation pledge: I pledge to take into account the social and environmental consequences of any future endeavors and to work to improve the sustainability of the communities in which I work, live and play.
This is the sixth year that Wake Forest graduates have participated in the nationwide pledge movement.
Graduates who missed the initial opportunity to commit can come by the Office of Sustainability during our Homecoming reception in the fall to sign the pledge and/or grab a reusable mug.
Members of the class of 2016 are invited to sign the Green Graduation Pledge on Friday, May 13 at graduation ticket pick-up outside the University Book Store. Students who sign the pledge are committing to “take into account the social and environmental consequences of any future endeavors and to work to improve the sustainability of the communities in which [they] work, live and play.”
This is the university’s sixth year offering the Green Graduation Pledge to students. The tradition began 30 years ago at Humboldt State University. Today, more than 100 schools participate in the nationwide pledge drive, facilitated by the Graduation Pledge Alliance.
Did you know… that the big green dumpsters in front of residence halls are headed to the landfill? Help us keep all reusable or recyclable items out of the dumpsters and in the hands of those who can use them.
Spread the word about these opportunities:
What? Reusable housewares, clothing, small appliances, school supplies, canned/dried food and furniture
When? April 29 – May 8
How? Smaller items can be placed in blue Goodwill donation boxes in the lobby of every residence hall. Bulky items (futons, shelving units, bookshelves, rugs, etc.) can be taken out in front of each residence hall and placed next to the Deacs Donate sign. Residents of theme houses should contact their resident advisers for information about the location of the donation bins in their areas.
Why? In 2015, the program helped students put approximately 20,000 pounds of clothing and other essentials into the hands of those in need in the Winston-Salem community.
We are excited to announce this year’s Sustainability Ambassadors at Wake Forest University. Sustainability Ambassadors complete a comprehensive curriculum to develop the literacy and skills to be effective peer educators for sustainability. In this role, ambassadors work closely with the Office of Sustainability to educate, encourage and measure success of sustainability efforts among students.
Emily Claire Mackey, an Advanced Sustainability Ambassador, explains, “Many students view sustainability as the green recycling tote in their dorm room, but living in a sustainable world goes far beyond that.”
Among other outreach activities, Sustainability Ambassadors deliver presentations to fellow students, participate in outreach events, and conduct sustainability assessments in residence halls. During the fall 2016 semester, students can become ambassadors by completing a two-credit course titled, Leadership for Sustainability.
Introductory Sustainability Ambassadors
Taylor Barrett, Sophomore
Interests: Renewable energy and recycling
Cristin Berardo, Junior
Interests: Renewable energy
Erika Brandon, Junior
Interests: Sustainable agriculture
Forrest Dodds, Junior
Interests: Waste reduction and composting
Bill Leftwich, Freshman
Interests: Energy and water conservation
Wesley Skidmore, Freshman
Interests: Renewable energy and climate change
Advanced Sustainability Ambassadors
Stephanie Cobb, Sophomore
Interests: Climate change and food production
Zoe Helmers, Freshman
Interests: Climate change and waste
Mackenzie Howe, Freshman
Interests: Ocean acidification and energy
Emily Claire Mackey, Junior
Interests: Food and landscape degradation
Maggie Powell, Freshman
Interests: Biodiversity and ecological systems
Brennan Radulski, Sophomore
Interests: Ecology and biodiversity
Talia Roberts, Freshman
Interests: Waste and climate change
Cameron Steitz, Junior
Interests: Water conservation and food production
Cameron Waters, Freshman
Interests: Renewable energy and waste
This article was originally published in the Old Gold & Black on November 12, 2015.
On Nov. 10 evening, Dr. Eban Goodstein, Director of Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and the Bard MBA in Sustainability in New York City, introduced students’ roles in climate change mitigation strategies through his presentation, New Rules for Climate Protection: Student and Citizen Action to Change the Future.
Although Goodstein emphasized the importance of student voices in many forums, his presentation focused on the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s nationwide “Power Dialog” on April 4, 2016, an initiative to mobilize efforts of college students and enable them to have a direct effect on state-level policy.
On Aug. 3, 2015, President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, a new US Environmental Protection Agency regulation designed to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 2030.
By 2030, the Plan calls for a reduction by 32 percent of 2005 levels, which are already much lower than those recorded today; however, Goodstein argued that the CPP was too timid and flexible.
Although power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. global warming pollution emissions, the CPP allows each state to set a different emission goal and “implementation plan” to meet it. Additionally, the 32 percent cuts are only a fraction of what Goodstein argues is necessary: 80 percent by 2050.
The Power Dialogs, which allow faculty at colleges nationwide to take their classes on coordinated field trips to their state capitols, aim to enable 10,000 students in all 50 states to have a face-to-face conversation with policymakers and to have a voice in these state level plans.
Because only 23 states have formed teams, and North Carolina does not yet have any Power Dialog organizers, Goodstein’s presentation was intended not only to equip attendees with updates on global warming that would enable them to better understand the upcoming International Climate Talks in Paris, but also to give interested students information on how to join the initiative.
A series of flight cancellations and delays prevented Goodstein’s arrival on campus and required him to present to the ZSR library auditorium virtually, but the professor engaged the over 50 attendees easily, asking audience members to guess statistics and pose theories, and even jokingly turning Dulles airport’s loudspeaker announcements into metaphors demonstrating the necessity of change.
The tone of his remarks did not detract from his message; in fact, it was the personal nature of the conversation that made Goodstein’s call to action affective.
“This will be the work of your lives,” said Goodstein. “You will adapt.”
That adaptation, which he explained will be a constant part of the lives of today’s students going forward as global warming is found to affect more and more aspects of the climate, demonstrates why students’ informed concern and efforts are imperative.
2014 was the hottest year recorded to date, and 2015 will be hotter still. There is 5 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere than there was 500 years ago, which has brought not only record-breaking floods in England, but unprecedented forest fires in California, demonstrating that the pressure of climate change on the water cycle and other weather patterns is causing a multitude of severe changes.
“If we do our best, the world will still get twice as hot,” Goodstein said.
Goldstein also asked the audience what had previously been the largest source of carbon emissions.
“If we were able to reduce emissions from horse manure by well over 90 percent, simply as a product of time, why can we not confidently say that we will be able to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 90 percent as well?”
Some of the effects of global warming are irreversible, but change is needed to minimize their impact. Although it may seem to students that the change necessary is unachievable, Goodstein maintained that this was not the case.
By Natalie Wilson (’19)
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
We sent off our graduating interns from the Class of 2015 with hearty congratulations on their outstanding achievements.
Bridget Keeler graduated with a major in economics with a minor in environmental studies. After working as the campus dining intern for ARAMARK her sophomore year, Bridget studied sustainability abroad and returned to serve as a Greeks Go Green intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She is working at Aramark headquarters in a one-year management program, Accelerate to Leadership.
Her reflection on her internship: My time with the office allowed me to further explore my interest in sustainability, and made me realize that my career path points toward the sustainable business sector. Working in the office provided me with invaluable information and experience, and I am very grateful for the guidance that was provided by Dedee and Hannah.
Araceli Morales-Santos graduated Cum Laude with a major in biology with a minor in Spanish. Araceli served as a Campus Garden intern in fall 2014 before going abroad in spring 2015. She earned a Fulbright Scholarship and will be an English teaching assistant in Brazil.
Her reflection on her internship: As an intern with the Office of Sustainability I gained valuable work experience and career tools that I will carry with me everywhere I go. Moreover, I was impressed at the level of professionalism that this internship offered and expected from each of the interns. What I most appreciate from my experience with the Office of Sustainability is the regular check-ins…[the] constructive criticism was helpful for me because professionally, it has helped me grow. As an intern, I also enjoyed all work and time spent in the garden. There is nothing more special than heading to the garden on a warm afternoon with a nice breeze and getting your hands and feet dirty harvesting and talking to the volunteers about their day and interest in gardening. I can’t thank the Office of Sustainability enough for offering me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience.
Emily Pence graduated Cum Laude with a major in mathematical business and minor in French. Emily served as a Greeks Go Green Intern for five consecutive semesters.
Her reflection on her internship: I am so thankful to have been able serve as an intern for the Office of Sustainability over the past few years. My internship has helped me grow into a more thoughtful, dynamic and professional individual, and has provided me with an opportunity to learn from and work alongside some of the most passionate and devoted members of the community. It has been such a rewarding experience to have been on a team with students who come from such diverse backgrounds, yet who share a similar commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability. Looking back on my time at Wake Forest, my internship has been one of the most valuable and formative experiences I have been fortunate enough to have; it will be one that will stay with me as I enter the next chapter of my life.
Macaela Seward graduated with a major in biology and was commissioned with distinction as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Chemical Corps. Macaela served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for the 2014-2015 academic year. She will begin training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In the fall she will be moving to South Korea to be the Chemical Officer for an Assault Helicopter Battalion.
Her reflection on her internship: My experience as the Sustainability in Dining Intern was eye-opening. Being sustainable as an individual is very different than at a corporate level, and it was incredibly interesting to learn how sustainable practices are implemented. In my internship I learned all about what food purchases are made and how we select vendors, as well as being able to run a project of my choosing and helping to prepare the STARS 2.0 review. It has been a great experience being the Dining Intern, and I will certainly be able to apply the skills I’ve learned in this internship – time management skills, creativity, resilience, tenacity – to the future.
Natalie Solomon graduated with a double major in psychology and religious studies with a concentration in Religion and Public Engagement. Natalie served as a Campus Garden Intern in the spring of 2015. She will begin a five year journey to earn a Doctorate in Psychology from Stanford Consortium in the fall.
Her reflection on her internship: Recently in the garden, the strawberries came up and I felt a profound sense of fulfillment and happiness. My internship has deepened my understanding of therapeutic resources. I have really loved that my internship included a physical component, that of literally gardening, and that my internship in the garden highlighted that the body and mind are the vehicles for pain, pleasure, and prayer. I have completed my Religion and Public Engagement Concentration on this fluidity of the inner and outer components of a person, much informed and influenced by my work in the garden. The garden has helped me to literally ground what I am learning in class and intern meetings, as well as provide a therapeutic outlet. This is a resource that was very rewarding to share with others. I honestly felt like my work in the garden reconnected me with the therapeutic resources of the outdoors that were central to my childhood in rural Southern Africa. My internship in the garden has provided me with a wider perspective and deeper understanding of sustainable agriculture, components of education, stewardship to the Earth, and benefits of the outdoors.
We wish all of our former interns who graduated with the Class of 2015 a fond farewell:
Jack Sypek, energy conservation intern with Facilities and Campus Services, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in biology.
Elena Dolman, staff writer, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in English.
Shoshanna Goldin, former Sustainable Community Development intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors in interdisciplinary studies – global health.
Maegan Olmstead, former Communications and Outreach intern, graduated with a major in communications.
David Song, former Campus Garden intern, graduated with a major in biology.
Nicky Vogt, former Campus Garden intern, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in politics and international affairs with double minors in Spanish and psychology.
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.
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