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Sustainability at Wake Forest

Transatlantic Interest in Sustainability

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Transatlantic Interest in Sustainability

September 4th, 2014

BFTF FormalSince 2006, Wake Forest has hosted the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF) Summer Institute, a Department of State-funded grant that brings 45 high-school aged students—35 from across Europe and 10 from the United States—to Winston-Salem to learn about citizenship and democratic deliberative practice. The month-long summer program features classes and workshops on civic engagement and social entrepreneurship, helping students develop projects they could implement that make a difference in their home communities. Over the past few years, the BFTF fellows have expressed increased interest in environmental and sustainability-related issues. We have accommodated their interests by connecting with numerous community partners dedicated to sustainability issues, including Wake Forest Campus Kitchen, the WFU Campus Garden, the Shalom Project, and Forsyth Futures. These hands-on partnerships, in addition to small-group conversations with sustainability professionals, provide opportunities to learn and practice new strategies to advance sustainability.

The cross-cultural skills that the students develop are important to their success in diplomacy, deliberation, and debate. The cultural diversity of the group, however, also presents a unique pedagogical challenge: socio-environmental issues and commitment to sustainability varies greatly across the many represented Europe nations and the United States. Advocating for green technologies, for example, would look quite different in Moldova than in Sweden. Mindful of these differences, the fellows are keen to explore which issues and sustainability strategies could relate to their home communities.

The fellows are exceptionally talented and possess an uncanny sophistication in drawing connections between their diverse interests and cultural differences. Even as their proposed strategies might vary, the opportunity to learn, and gain inspiration, from one another propels them to develop projects that reflect the unique opportunities and challenges in the students’ home communities.

Contributed by Ron Von Burg, Assistant Professor of Communication

Save the Dates — Fall Speaker Series

August 25th, 2014

WFU-14-012 sustainability poster_v2Save September 10October 7, and November 4 on your calendar for our fall speaker series: Make Every Bite Count. The series includes a panel discussion about the importance of biodiversity to a resilient regional food supply, a documentary film about one family’s quest to understand GMO’s, and a keynote by renowned Indian activist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

We have created a page with detailed information about each event and resources that we hope might be useful to you if you choose to engage. Under the “Learn More” links, you will find articles, papers, books, and websites that should help stimulate discussion.

Learn more about the fall speakers series here.

Wake Forest University Partners with UpcycleLife

August 13th, 2014
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UpcycleLife at the WFU Earth Day Fair

“Pro Humanitiate” is in action on the sustainability front at Wake Forest through a partnership with UpcycleLife. The Charlotte-based, not-for-profit produces one-of-a-kind bags and accessories by upcycling things like billboards or banners. It isn’t just that UpcycleLife is keeping vinyl out of our landfills, it’s the way they do it. The mission is to help protect the environment, and at the same time transform lives by creating jobs for individuals in under-served communities.

The environmental problem is that vinyl billboard and banner material takes hundreds of years to break down in landfills. UpcycleLife diverts this material from the landfill by giving it a new use, and at the same time teaching folks in impoverished communities valuable job skills such as sewing, shipping, and receiving. UpcycleLife feels they have developed a method to impact a waste stream and create a steady employment model. Ideally, the model could be scaled in such a way that UpcycleLife could make a huge impact on the waste stream in the broader US.

The results of the partnership with Wake Forest so far are 3 banners from the university being upcycled for the cause.  By recycling these 3 banners UpcycleLife was able to employ 4 individuals from the local community for a total of 32 hours of paid work. On the flip-side, the upcycled products tell a unique story and provide users with a little piece of Wake Forest history.

According to Emma Kate Hosey, with the Charlotte-based organization: “UpcycleLife creates jobs for disadvantaged citizens by creating a product that reduces our impact on the environment. Our products are one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and made of reclaimed vinyl. We love taking a dirty banner and making it into a piece of art.”

Key Statistics about UpcycleLife:

  • Employed, trained and graduated over 12 refugee men and women in the Charlotte NC area in 3 years
  • Upcycled over 40,000 different products
  • Rescued over 10,000 lbs of vinyl from entering landfills
  • Provided free weekly English training and financial advising

Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought

July 14th, 2014

Lisa-BleeIn the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural Magnolias Curriculum Project. The readings and discussions in the workshop quickly revealed the big questions of sustainability: How does personal behavior and choice relate to global phenomenon? What do we hope to sustain, and who benefits? These issues are not only about the earth’s future, but also prompt deeper reflection about our history, relationships to places, capacity for self-awareness and change, and sense of responsibility to others.

I wanted to further explore these big questions in a First Year Seminar that I offered in spring 2014 titled Nature, Environments, and Place in American Thought. My intention was to introduce students to traditions of environmental thought and help them explore their relationships to places, nature and social action. The class was organized as a journey from inner reflection to public outreach, culminating in a web exhibit. After reading classic and contemporary nature writing pieces, the students first created group photo essays that visually tell a story and make an interpretive point about human relationships to nature. Some groups chose to investigate personal relationships to significant places, while others depicted Wake Forest’s efforts to promote sustainability.

Meanwhile, the class visited Old Salem’s heritage gardens, Reynolda House Museum of Art, and Reynolda Village to make connections to scholarly arguments about landscape design, cultural values, and sustainability featured in the readings. Each student then chose one place in Winston-Salem to research in-depth, endeavoring to interpret the environmental and social histories of familiar and everyday places – a trail, lake, neighborhood, park – in novel ways. The final project was to create a podcast based on an interview with an environmental actor. The groups traveled around the Piedmont to visit organic farms, a prayer center, and the site of the Dan River coal ash spill to conduct interviews. Throughout the semester the students worked with Digital Initiatives Librarian Chelcie Rowell to build a digital exhibit featuring text, images, audiovisual presentations, and a map of place studies. In doing so, students had the opportunity to reflect on the power and limitations of technology to represent nature and educate and inspire others. Most crucially, the course allowed students to both think through their personal relationship to environments within the context of intellectual traditions, and to link these ideas to cooperative action and collective responsibility.

View the students’ web exhibit at: http://cloud.lib.wfu.edu/fys100fff

By Lisa Blee, Assistant Professor of History

Deacons Divert 11 Tons of Waste

July 10th, 2014

Demon Deacons rallied together this May to divert over 22,500 pounds — over 11 tons — of discarded goods from the landfill as part of Deacs Donate, an end-of-year move-out waste reduction campaign. Residence Life and Housing, Facilities and Campus Services, and the Office of Sustainability each played an important role in educating residents about the annual program.

The program, originally designed by the Resident Student Association and Residence Life and Housing, encourages students to deposit housewares, furniture, clothing and canned goods at designated locations during move-out. This year, Wake Forest collected over 17,000 pounds for donation to Goodwill. The non-profit provides actual weights of donations collected, rather than estimates. These more accurate metrics allow staff members to compare collections to the amount of waste landfilled and calculate a diversion rate for the end-of-year move-out period.

Thanks to the Better World Books program, students once again kept this semester’s used textbooks out of the dumpsters. Large cardboard collection boxes were placed near check-out lines in the campus Bookstore so students could donate books that the bookstore was unable to buy back. More than 2000 pounds of books collected at Wake Forest will be sold online, with a portion of the sales donated to our local literacy partner, the Augustine Project. Their Literate Girls program is a unique tutoring program that supports low-income girls with learning differences in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

Nearly 1600 pounds of paper was collected for recycling between May 2, when the first students moved out of residence halls, and May 9. This is an increase from 1100 during last year’s move-out recycling. Residents are provided individual paper recycling bags, designed and distributed by Residence Life and Housing, to easily separate the paper recyclables and keep the waste stream cleaner.

Also at move-out, first-year students were given the option of returning the green personal recycling totes that they received on move-in day. Nearly 800 bins were collected for cleaning and will be redistributed to returning students next year. This effort alone kept 1500 pounds of plastic out of the landfill.

The total amount of waste diverted during the move-out period increased 7 to 12 percent, a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill. In solid tons, we kept the equivalent of several African elephants out of the landfill. As the largest of all land mammals, that’s a significant reduction in the amount of waste entering the landfill.

FAQ: Carpooling to a Meeting

July 10th, 2014

Q: Some members of our department are attending a meeting off campus. We think others from Wake Forest might also be attending, but we’re not sure how to connect with them. Is there a way to do that online?

A: Absolutely. Whether you are driving to a meeting, a regional conference, or just an office lunch, you can always offer/seek a ride through Zimride. If you are attending a regional conference and have colleagues from the area attending, you can post a ride that is open to our members in trusted partner network: University of Virginia, Appalachian State University, University of Richmond, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State University.

Read more frequently asked questions about carpooling on our how to guide, How to Find and Register a Carpool.

FAQ: Carpool Emergency Ride

July 10th, 2014

Q: I’m considering carpooling, but am uncomfortable not having a means to get somewhere if an emergency arises. Does Wake Forest offer an emergency ride service?

Read the rest of this page »

FAQ: Sustainability Rating

June 6th, 2014

Q. I noticed that campus has a silver sustainability rating, but that we don’t make the lists of the greenest schools in magazines like the Sierra Club. Why is that?

A. Wake Forest University participates in STARS, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment Rating System (say that three times fast). We undertake this comprehensive reporting effort as a part of our commitment to transparency and accountability.  The framework was developed specifically to measure and track indicators of sustainability in higher education. Each campus that participates makes its report available online; no ratings or rankings are judged out of context or evaluated using metrics that create a limited view of a campuses’ commitment.  Wake Forest is one of many campuses that does not respond to other outside requests for ratings/ranking information. We encourage those groups who would like to showcase campus efforts to draw from our STARS report for any information they might need.

In 2011 and 2012 WFU submitted a STARS report and was awarded a STARS silver rating, the third highest rating possible. WFU will submit a new report in the spring of 2015 to fulfill our three-year reporting requirement.

FAQ: Summer Volunteer Opportunities

June 5th, 2014
Q.  I want to stay actively involved over the summer months – are there any volunteer opportunities on campus?
 
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A. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave Wake Forest to get out and help out. With fewer students on campus over the summer, both the WFU Campus Garden and Campus Kitchen rely on the support of regular volunteers to keep operations in full swing. The campus garden needs help with planting, weeding, harvesting, and composting. The summer months are among the most bountiful, so the garden manager needs extra hands to keep up. Most of the produce grown in the garden is donated to Campus Kitchen, allowing them to prepare more dishes from scratch. Campus Kitchen needs volunteer support to pick up produce, and create and deliver nutritious meals to community agencies that are working to serve the needs of food insecure residents. To learn more about summer gardening hours, sign up for the campus garden listserv and “like” the Wake Forest Campus Garden Facebook pageSign up online to volunteer for Campus Kitchen shifts. Sign up for the Sustainability Weekly Update and the volunteer listserv to learn about Office of Sustainability, campus, and community volunteer opportunities as they arise.

Congratulations Class of 2014 Interns

May 27th, 2014

Intern_PhotoOn May 19th, the Office of Sustainability proudly graduated five sustainability interns. We are grateful for the numerous contributions they have made to our office and to the Wake Forest community.

Karleigh Ash graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Karleigh worked for the Office of Sustainability as the Photography intern in the spring of 2012 as well as this past year.

Her reflection on the internship: My internship with the Office of Sustainability has really shaped my college experience for the better. I was lucky enough to start interning in the spring of my sophomore year and I have been connected in various ways ever since. I have learned things about how to live a sustainable lifestyle that will stick with me for the rest of my life. My fellow interns and our mentors Dedee and Hannah have been such an inspiration to never let the problems we face get too overwhelming. There is always something that we can do, no matter how small.

Glenn Bergesen graduated with a BA in Psychology and a double minor in Environmental Studies and Biology. Glenn joined the sustainability team as the Earth Day Planning Intern in the spring of 2014.

His reflection on his internship: I could not have asked for a more rewarding and challenging experience. It allowed me to learn from and work with some of the best and most wonderful faculty and staff members at Wake. The work was fun, engaging, and the Office of Sustainability knows how to get things done!  Thank you for all that you do and I know that my experience here will forever shape how I pursue a future in sustainability.

Patrick Doran graduated with a BS in Business and Enterprise Management. This year he served as the Sustainability in Dining intern for Aramark.

His reflection on his internship: My internship exposed me to a wonderful field that works to leave a legacy and benefit others, namely posterity. I especially value my experience as sustainability is becoming increasingly prevalent in business, with companies becoming attuned to consumer demand for sustainable practice. Above all else, my internship gave me the opportunity to work with a group of people who are endlessly friendly, considerate, and passionate about what they do.

Dominik Haja graduated Cum Laude and earned departmental honors with a BS in Chemistry with a Biochemistry concentration. Claire Nagy-Kato graduated with a BA in Chemistry and a minor in Environmental Studies.

Dominik and Claire both served as Energy interns for the Office of Energy Management.