The Office of Service and Social Action facilitates opportunities for students to connect to the community, serve others, and explore social justice issues. Through these experiences, students develop into engaged, reflective, and knowledgeable change agents in the global community.
Volunteer Service Corps is a student run organization dedicated to furthering the University’s motto of Pro Humanitate by engaging students, faculty, and staff in meaningful volunteer service.
The Campus Kitchen is a volunteer led food recycling program. Participants fight food insecurity in Winston-Salem by working closely with partner agencies to redistribute food donations from The Fresh Food Company and other partners.
The Institute for Public Engagement (IPE) is an academic center focused on connecting Wake Forest’s academic mission to the needs of our community. IPE provides resources and support for students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community seeking to realize the values implied by the University’s motto, Pro Humanitate.
This coming April, Wake Forest will host our inaugural Champions of Change award ceremony.
In March, 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).
We look forward to hearing about the work of all the inspiring change agents across campus.
The Learn Experience Navigate Solve (LENS) @ Wake Forest program offered 38 rising high school juniors and seniors a three-week, hands-on opportunity to engage with peers around the 2013 theme “Sustainability – Operate locally and extend globally.” Students partnered with faculty and community leaders to examine issues, and then worked in teams to tackle real-world challenges. The inspiring discussions and college environment lent itself to fun activities and friendships along the way.
Read more about the 2013 LENS @ Wake Forest experience.
As of May 2013, students, faculty, and staff on the Reynolda campus have collected and donated a cumulative 8000 pounds of books to Better World Books, an online bookstore, social enterprise, and B Corporation. Founded in 2002, Better World Books has raised nearly $15 million for global literacy projects, including $7.3 million for literacy and education nonprofits and $7.2 million for libraries nationwide. Since its founding, the organization has re-used or recycled over 146 million pounds of books – that’s over 100 million books.
At Wake Forest, we began collecting books for donation to Better World Books in 2009. Our students donate an average of approximately 2000 pounds of books during move-out each year. Collection boxes are placed in the bookstore, making it convenient for students to donate the books that the bookstore isn’t able to buy back.
From time to time, faculty members also clean out their offices and clear off their bookshelves. Several have opted to donate their unwanted books to Better World Books. The process is simple: the Office of Sustainability delivers boxes to a departmental liaison; once the boxes are packed and taped, the office prints and delivers pre-paid UPS labels and the boxes are picked up for shipping. We cannot accept textbooks that are more than ten years old. Instead, those can be recycled locally.
Better World Books sells some of the donated books online and returns a portion of the proceeds to the programs it supports. For the first time this year, Better World Books invited Wake Forest to designate a local literacy partner to support. We chose the Augustine Project for Literacy’s Literate Girls program, a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
For more information about Wake Forest’s relationship with Better World Books or how you can get boxes for an office clean-out, contact the Office of Sustainability at or at ext. 3328.
By Dedee DeLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability
Summer isn’t necessarily a vacation for Wake Forest students. From late May to early August, The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest, a student-run service organization, maintains full operations, serving 154 meals per week to underserved members of the Winston-Salem community. Unlike during the spring and fall, when Campus Kitchen is run by a six-member executive board and a 24-member leadership team, during the summer three interns are at the helm of one of Wake Forest’s flagship service organizations.
The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University is an affiliate of the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger and reducing waste through food recycling programs on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen model takes surplus prepared (but never served) meals from campus dining facilities and distributes these meals to partner agencies serving local communities. In addition to this basic model, the Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University partners with the Fresh Market, rescuing edible produce and baked goods and delivering the food in bulk to agencies serving populations with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University also partners with the Campus Garden, incorporating fresh, campus-grown produce into balanced meals.
Brittany Forniotis (’15), David Hale (’15), John Iskander (’16), and Monica Hedge (’14) make up the summer 2013 team of Campus Kitchen interns. Brittany, who is also spending her summer conducting original research on American slave narratives, splits five cooking shifts and five food delivery shifts with David, a premedical student who is also currently conducting summer research. John serves as the Fresh Market intern, running five food rescue shifts per week and researching the feasibility of food trucks as a means of increasing access to nutritious food. Monica will replace Brittany as one of the cooking and delivery interns for the second half of the summer.
According to the Campus Kitchens Project’s national guidelines, all meals must include a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dessert. Because there are fewer students on campus during the summer, the Fresh Food Company has less surplus food to donate to Campus Kitchen, so the interns must creatively combine resources to meet the organization’s standards. Brittany, who plans many of the summer menus, relies heavily on produce grown in the WFU Campus Garden. Most recently, she and summer volunteers prepared a huge salad with roasted beets, greens, and beet greens from the Campus Garden.
David, who served the salad at the SECU Family House, an agency providing housing for the families of patients who travel to Winston-Salem for medical treatment, reports “Everyone is always really happy when I say we grew these beets in our Campus Garden…they were so impressed that it was full circle, that we are using what we have and being sustainable.”
Partner agencies rely on Campus Kitchen to stay open during the summer, but David explains that the summer also provides an opportunity to reach new volunteers. He says “it is also important for us to educate volunteers, whether they are at a summer camp here, faculty and staff, or just anyone in the Winston-Salem area, to realize that [food insecurity] is an important issue in our region that many people don’t know about.” He also explains that bringing new volunteers into Campus Kitchen “is really about removing the stigma from certain areas [of Winston-Salem] or the stereotypes someone might associate with a particular type of person.”
In the context of cooking shifts, Brittany takes care to talk to volunteers about “where the food is going, what sort of people are receiving the food, and what sort of health problems they might have.” She explains the intentional choices she makes based on the population being served, such as sending reduced dessert portions and low-salt meals to senior housing where many residents suffer from diabetes and hypertension.
In the context of delivery shifts, David explains the goal of a particular partner agency and how food from Campus Kitchen fits into that goal. For instance, at Prodigals Community, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility, David explains to volunteers how the Sunday night meal provided by Campus Kitchen allows Prodigals to allocate funds towards programs that facilitate residents’ recovery.
When asked what the Campus Kitchen needs from the Wake Forest community this summer, the interns offer a single emphatic answer: volunteers. David says “We need people who are willing to be flexible, to try something new…to go out of their comfort zone, to get out of the Wake Forest bubble and realize that these places exist in Winston-Salem.”
To volunteer for Campus Kitchen, contact Brittany Forniotis at .
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Allie Gruber (’13) knew she had a vague interest in sustainability when she boarded a plane bound for Peru in early June, following her sophomore year at Wake Forest University. She had no idea, however, that upon her return she would dedicate the remainder of her undergraduate career to learning about and advocating for the natural world. Her impressive list of sustainability credentials includes undergraduate research, two internships, and, perhaps most impressively, a tireless, personal peer outreach campaign.
Allie made her pivotal trip to the Amazon through the Wake Forest Tropical Diversity Program, a month-long study abroad opportunity offered by the biology department. The field program offers an in-depth exploration of biodiversity, which introduces students to the complex ecosystems of the tropics through hands-on learning. Allie remembers her study abroad experience in vivid detail, from her flight into Lima where the class studied the coast’s unique desert ecosystem to her second flight across the mountain range into Cuzco where she and her peers fought altitude sickness before taking a nine hour hike into the amazon basin. She recalls the hundreds of native hummingbird species her professors asked her to look out for on bird watching expeditions and well recalls the Manu research station, where she and her research partners, Chris Bobbitt (’12) and Brad Shugoll (’13) conducted original research.
This program, which highlights both the beauty and the vulnerability of some of the world’s last undeveloped landscapes “really turned me towards sustainability,” explains Allie. However, she emphasizes that her transformation wasn’t merely about the setting. Being in Peru helped, she explains, but “it was really the professors.” In particular, Dr. Miles Silman, Director of the Center for Energy, Environment, Sustainability, inspired Allie’s budding environmental interests. She says “he is so charismatic, it is contagious. He really got me excited about the environment.”
Dr. Silman mentored Allie as she continued to explore sustainability through the lens of the life sciences. Under his direction, she and fellow students conducted a feasibility analysis for conch farming as a means of economic development and collected relevant research on coral reefs for one of his courses. Allie finished her studies a semester early, and upon graduating last fall, she spent what would have been the spring semester of her senior year assisting Dr. Silman with the early phases of a biochar research project. Biochar is an organic fertilizer that increases the productivity of the soil while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. The material, essentially charcoal, forms through pyrolysis, a high-heat anaerobic conversion process. As Allie explains, biochar offers the dual advantage of being both “an organic alternative [to conventional fertilizer] and helping with the fight against global climate change.”
Allie has used what she learned from Dr. Silman in the classroom and the laboratory to explain relevant issues to her friends and to convince them to adopt sustainable behaviors. Though she modestly deems herself “the token tree-hugger of the group,” she has seen results from her consistent, positive persuasion. “I get texts all the time, like ‘I refilled my reusable water bottle at the water bottle-refilling station, it’s so cool!’ I tell them, yeah it is cool! Do it every day.”
Allie’s informal peer outreach was usually one-on-one, but last fall Allie used her position as the membership development chair for her sorority Delta Delta Delta to arrange for her entire chapter to attend a screening of 11th Hour hosted by Greeks Go Green. Throughout the film she got texts from her sorority sisters, asking if the films messages about ecosystem collapse were true. One friend sent a text demanding that Allie switch seats mid-film so she could explain the Coriolis Effect (a phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation). Allie complied, whispering quietly to her friend and scribbling diagrams of the Earth on the back of scratch paper.
Allie also gained two professional experiences relating to sustainability, serving as an intern for both Environment America’s Research and Policy Center in Washington, DC and Wake Forest’s Office of Energy Management. Allie’s internship at Environment America, through the Wake Washington program, gave her valuable experience in communicating research results and in understanding how non-profit organizations operate. As the intern for the Office of Energy Management, Allie and her co-intern Joey Matt (’13) planned Energy Bowl 2012.
Through her work with the Office of Energy Management, Allie met Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston, a second figure who impacted her aspirations for the future. DeLongpre-Johnston, the Director of the Office of Sustainability, pointed out to Allie that every environmental problem is also a social problem. Allie reports that this insight is leading her to pursue an explicitly humanitarian path. In addition to helping Allie make the connection between the social and environmental, she says DeLongpre-Johnston also taught her the importance of professionalism and organization. Allie says “Dedee taught me that it is one thing to be passionate and excited, but without a plan you really don’t get much done.”
Allie’s plan is to pursue further education, but her next step won’t be a linear extension of her undergraduate academic career. With a strong foundation in the science behind sustainability already, Allie is planning to incorporate other influences into her education by pursuing an MA in Management at Wake Forest this fall. She says “being fluent in other areas, such as business, will help me bring the environmental aspect into those fields.” Wherever she goes, Allie knows she will carry the benefits of a balanced and engaged Wake Forest experience. She reaped the benefits of mentoring relationships with faculty and staff who invested in her development and, in turn, she is focusing on paying those benefits forward by serving as a positive influence for her peers.
Written by Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
As she began to examine questions about life-cycle analysis and resource efficiency, she says “I realized…to get a sense of what’s going on, you can use fairly simple math. I decided that would be a great place to bring in students, to give them the confidence to apply straightforward mathematics to analyze complex situations.”
This urge to combine a personal passion for sustainability with her career resulted in Dr. Mason’s first-year seminar, Counting on Sustainable Energy: Does it Add Up?, which she is currently teaching for a second time this spring. The simple addition, multiplication, and conversion involved in the course are far from her traditional research field of combinatorics, but Dr. Mason’s course demonstrates how “pretty basic mathematics can be used to do some powerful things.”
Counting on Sustainable Energy fosters a greater understanding of alternative energy and arms students with the ability to critically evaluate assertions about the relative environmental impacts of various fuel sources. “One of the biggest things that I want my students to get out of this class is getting comfortable taking claims and evaluating them for themselves. If someone says something is better for the environment, I want my students to be able to go home and verify that claim.”
Over the course of a semester, Dr. Mason’s students will investigate a wide array of alternative energy sources, including solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. They will examine how much energy these sources could produce on Wake Forest’s campus and how much energy a Wake Forest student consumes each day. By the end of the semester, students will find an answer to the course’s central question: Could we, with our current consumption patterns, rely on sustainable energy at Wake Forest University? If the answer is yes, students will explain exactly how a switch to sustainable energy might be feasible in their final paper. If the answer is no, students will lay out a plan to reduce energy consumption.
Much of Dr. Mason’s FYS is hands-on. Her students began the course by measuring their own electricity consumption with a Kill-a-watt, an exercise designed to give them an idea of scale when they use the watt or kilowatt hour (kWh) as a unit of measure. Recently, her students completed the construction of miniature wind turbines, an exercise designed to familiarize them with the mechanics of wind energy. As part of their final project, students will develop and staff interactive educational booths at Food for Thought, this spring’s Earth Day celebration for the Wake Forest community.
In addition to readings and class projects, Counting on Sustainable Energy includes a line-up of guest speakers, including a representative from Volt energy (the company responsible for the solar panels on The Barn) and an environmental engineer working in wind turbine installation. Students will visit a land fill and a geothermal installation. So far, Dr. Mason’s students have matched an impressive syllabus with impressive work product. Dr. Mason reports her students are highly motivated by the subject matter, explaining “because they are passionate about [sustainability], they are willing to do the leg work.”
The latest version of Counting on Sustainability is a result of Dr. Mason’s participation in the Magnolias Project, a WFU faculty workshop on integrating sustainability across the curriculum. An assigned reading on the moral ecology of everyday life (from Higher Education for Sustainability) inspired Dr. Mason to take the focus of Counting on Sustainability from a national level down to a campus level; her students have benefited from an opportunity to relate to their course material directly.
Not only did the Magnolias Project allow Dr. Mason to refine her syllabus, she also made valuable connections to faculty from different disciplines. This network continues to be source of ideas and feedback, which Dr. Mason finds particularly valuable as a mathematician teaching a writing-intensive course. This spring, she will co-lead the second iteration of the Magnolias Project with Dr. Lucas Johnston, a faculty member in the Religion department and another member of the Magnolias Project’s first cohort.
Unsurprisingly, Dr. Mason also integrates sustainability into her life beyond the classroom. When moving to Winston-Salem, she intentionally purchased a home within walking distance from campus and often uses a bicycle for transportation. An avid hiker, she partially attributes her interest in sustainability to a love of the outdoors, saying “I love hiking and I really value being able to explore untouched places. I worry our society is moving towards less and less of these beautiful, spectacular places.”
A passion for sustainability runs in Dr. Mason’s family. The environmental engineer who spoke to her class about wind turbines was her father and her brother is an urban planner, currently tackling solutions for mass transit in developing countries. Her brother also helped her tackle a compost bin project in her backyard and Dr. Mason plans to put her compost to good use this year. She muses “I love being able to go out and make a salad with ingredients straight from my backyard, there is something really satisfying about that.”
Dr. Mason’s academic innovation is possible through the generous support of the university, for which she is continually grateful. Her students are equivalently grateful for Dr. Mason, especially those like sophomore Caroline Waco, whose experience in Dr. Mason’s FYS last year inspired her to do independent research on the factors impacting the payback period for solar photovoltaic panels. Dr. Mason explains that her promotion of sustainability at Wake Forest naturally flows from her interest in the topic. She says “I’ve always believed in following my passions, and hopefully that leads to a strong contribution to my community.”
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Peer education, long a well-loved tool in the field of public health, has inspired curiosity from sustainability advocates in recent years. As research in psychology and marketing continues to affirm that environmental awareness alone does not result in environmentally preferable behavior changes, those seeking to foster sustainable behaviors hope to tap into the power of peer influence to affect necessary change.
On campuses across the United States, groups of peer educators, many of whom operate under the title EcoReps, are pioneering peer education programs in collegiate settings. Wake Forest University’s own re-imagined EcoReps program, launched in the fall of 2012, is off to a promising start.
Last fall the EcoReps kicked off the semester by giving a presentation at the Monday Talks series hosted by the Health and Exercise Science Department. Their presentation, titled “A Day in the Life of a Sustainable Student” highlighted the surprising impacts and perks of adopting simple behaviors, like using a reusable water bottle or shopping at thrift stores.
The EcoReps also played an integral role in Energy Bowl 2012, where they performed personalized room assessments and staffed kiosks promoting the competition. In addition, the EcoReps performed educational outreach at events hosted by the Office of Sustainability, Outdoor Pursuits, Residence Life and Housing, and Campus Dining.
Through their participation in the program, EcoReps earn points towards a Peer Educator for Sustainability certification. The Office of Sustainability designed this 100-point certification to ensure that EcoReps develop both sustainability literacy and outreach skills, which are crucial for their success as peer-to-peer educators and future sustainability professionals. Lauren Formica, a first year student, became the first EcoRep to complete the Peer Educator for Sustainability certification at the end of last semester.
This spring the EcoReps gave an expanded version of their Day in the Life presentation as part of the Monday Talks series on January 28th. They will also present at the Sustainability Theme House’s weekly spaghetti supper on February 21st.
Delegates from the Wake Forest EcoReps program will head to a regional conference for EcoReps in the Southeast in February. In March, the EcoReps will support the Campus Conservation Nationals competition sponsored by the Office of Energy Management.
For more information on how to become an EcoRep, email . Enrollment in the program closes on February 14th.
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow for the Office of Sustainability
Greeks Go Green (GGG) is a student-led initiative located at the intersection of sustainability and Greek life. Upon its inception in the spring of 2011, the idea was met with considerable interest among members of the Greek community. Greeks Go Green interns with the Office of Sustainability, Erin Murphy (WFU ’13) and Becka Brolinson (WFU ‘15) are facilitating the initiative this year. Under their leadership, the program has grown to include delegates from the eight Panhellenic Conference sororities on campus, who represent their chapters at bi-monthly GGG meetings. GGG is working with Interfraternity Council members on a more informal level and looks forward to increased cooperation in the future. Additionally, GGG hopes to recruit representatives from the sororities and fraternities on campus that are affiliated with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).
In the spirit of competition, organizations are incented to participate through a recognition-and-reward process. But, this isn’t the only motivator. According to Brolinson, “Countless members of the Greek community truly have a passion for sustainability.”
The purpose of Greeks Go Green is twofold. The first goal is educational. GGG members seek to raise awareness about principles of sustainability within the Greek life community. In service of this goal, GGG delegates deliver monthly presentations at their respective chapter meetings, from sustainability themes determined at the GGG representative meetings. Presentation topics have ranged from conscious consumerism to recycling and energy conservation awareness.
The second goal is hands-on. GGG members seek to incorporate sustainable practices into the functional operations of fraternities and sororities on campus. To these ends, members organized a “bin rollout” earlier this year to install recycling containers into all the sorority lounges on campus. Also, since service has always been an important aspect of Greek life, especially here at Wake Forest, GGG members volunteer for sustainability on campus. Groups and individuals have supported both the campus garden and the game-day recycling program.
With respect to both these goals Brolinson said that, “Because Greek organizations are such a huge part of student life at Wake Forest, GGG really has the potential to make a big impact.”
By Joey DeRosa, Communications and Outreach Intern
Go Deacs. Go Green., a partnership effort between Wake Forest Athletics and the Office of Sustainability, enters its third year with the kickoff of this season’s football game day recycling campaign. Beginning this Saturday, September 1st, with Wake Forest’s game against Liberty University, volunteers will work to ensure recyclables stay out of the landfill whenever the Demon Deacons play at home. Over the course of last season, volunteers collected nearly 7 tons of recyclables and this year the campaign aims for even greater rates of diversion.
Volunteers are a vital to the success of game-day recycling. Before the school year even got going, participants in SPARC, a pre-orientation program run by the Office of Service and Social Action, helped refresh the program’s tailgate recycling bins with new paint and campaign stickers. On each home-game day, three shifts of volunteers distribute recycling bins to tailgating lots, educate fans on proper recycling, and collect full bins after fans enter the stadium. Both the first and second shifts end before kick-off and the third shift ends only about half an hour into the game.
The Deacon Express game-day shuttle begins running four hours before kick-off, picking up in the parking lot on the East side of Wait Chapel and dropping off at the Indoor Tennis facility near BB&T field on 32nd street. In the spirit of going green, volunteers are encouraged to ride the shuttle. Volunteers who are unable to access the shuttle can alternatively obtain a volunteer parking pass from the Office of Sustainability. Those who participate in the game-day efforts also receive a Green Team t-shirt.
Game-day recycling is an excellent residence hall activity or service opportunity for a campus organization. We also welcome individuals and students looking to fulfill community service hours.
To participate, contact game-day recycling intern, Austin Smith at . Check out the Wake Forest Athletics site to find dates for all home games.
This summer thirty-two rising high school juniors and seniors participated in LENS @ Wake Forest, an annual three-week college immersion program. For the three years since its inception, LENS @ Wake Forest has taken sustainability as a guiding theme, examining political, economic, social, and legal issues. Learning took place both inside and outside the classroom, with seminars and presentations given by Wake Forest faculty and excursions to a local farm and to Reynolda House Museum. Students studied rhetoric, honed their writing skills and learned to craft effective presentations. Leigh Stanfield, Director for Global Auxiliary Programs in the Provost’s Office for Global Affairs, organized the program. Dr. Michelle Klosterman of the Education Department and Dr. Ryan Shirey of the Writing Program served as primary faculty. ZSR Librarians Hu Womack and Bobbie Collins partnered with LENS to teach participants research skills.
Connor Covello, a rising high school senior from Long Island, appreciated the wide variety of viewpoints incorporated into the program. He reported “whatever I do, say its business, I will seek to render my business as sustainable as possible; you can incorporate sustainability into anything.”
LENS (which stands for Learn, Experience, Navigate, Solve) culminated with student presentations of their group projects for a Community Partner. Project development took place over three weeks and involved meeting with Community Partners, eliciting advice from experts on campus, and extensive research.
In addition to getting a taste of rigorous academics, 2012 LENS participants also enjoyed the more relaxed aspects of college life, eating dinner downtown and playing ultimate Frisbee on the quad. Participants stayed in South Hall, a LEED-certified first-year residence hall, where they kept track of each room’s energy use on a building dashboard monitor. For Connor, a fun highlight of LENS was a toga party in the South Hall media room, where the group celebrated the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. While learning objectives are central to LENS, friendships between participants and connections built with faculty have enduring value. When asked what he will walk away with from the LENS experience, Connor reported he now has an idea of what college life is like, an awareness of sustainability issues, and a number of good friends he will surely miss.
By Annabel Lang, Wake Forest Fellow
To find out more about this year’s LENS@Wake Forest experience, read this article published by the WFU NewsCenter.