Wake Forest University

Magnolias Project - Apply to Participate - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Magnolias Project – Apply to Participate

Magnolias Project – Apply to Participate

Magnolias Project 2017 – Applications Open

To All Wake Forest Faculty:

We invite you to enhance your teaching and engagement with sustainability issues by participating in the Magnolias Project May 10-11, 2017 on the Wake Forest campus.  No prior experience with sustainability-related issues in the classroom or in research is necessary, and faculty at all ranks and career stages are welcome.

This innovative approach to curricular change, modeled on the nationally renowned Piedmont Project (Emory University), provides faculty with an intellectually stimulating and collegial experience to pool their expertise.  Faculty who would like to develop a new course module or an entirely new course that engages issues of sustainability and the environment are encouraged to apply.

The workshop will explore how we can meaningfully integrate sustainability—broadly defined—into our classrooms.  Although we start by taking a close look at Wake Forest University and the larger Piedmont region, we invite participants to engage in local to global comparisons.

The Magnolia Project kicks off with a two-day workshop (May 10-11) that will offer opportunities to extend research and teaching horizons across disciplines and create new networks with fellow colleagues.  Following the workshop, faculty participants prepare discipline-specific course materials on their own over the summer. They reconvene in the fall to discuss their insights and experiences.  Participants receive a stipend of $500 ($250 upon completion of the workshop; $250 upon completion of a new or revised syllabus).

Project participants agree to:

  1. Read some materials prior to the workshop
  2. Participate in the full 2-day workshop on May 10-11, 2017
  3. Commit time during the summer to prepare or revise a syllabus and submit it in August
  4. Report back to the group in the fall semester

Interested? Applications will be accepted until April 17. 

  • Send a short description (one paragraph maximum) of how you plan to change an existing course, or develop a new one, that will incorporate environmental and/or sustainability issues to Kim Couch at couchkm@wfu.edu.  Please include your name, departmental affiliation, phone number and e-mail address.

Want to know more?

Browse the Magnolias or Piedmont Project websites for example syllabi and faculty statements:

Come join a community of faculty searching for new ways to engage issues relevant to their fields.

Where Are They Now: Katherine Sinacore (’11)

February 12th, 2018

Q:  What does your Wake Forest undergraduate education mean to you?

A:  WFU really exemplifies its “pro humanitate” motto in the way that it encourages students to think about how their work impacts the larger community. Out of everything, that lesson is one that has really stuck with me and influenced my work since graduating.

Q:  You interned with the Office of Sustainability during your time at Wake; what projects did you work on, and what did you gain from your experiences?

A:  I worked alongside intern Josh Dewitt to create the Green Team network. Together, we started a pilot program with a few departments on campus which aimed to establish a network for bolstering the achievement of sustainability goals. I learned and grew a great amount during that internship, but if I had to choose the most significant insight I acquired, it would be the importance of listening.  It might sound kind of obvious, but it’s true.  The participants in the Green Team network had such innovative ideas and strategies that would make their offices run most efficiently and sustainably; learning to listen and work with their suggestions, rather than impose my own values and ideas on them, was a great lesson to be reinforced. It has proved extremely valuable in my more recent work as I have collaborated with other stakeholders on environmental issues.

Q:  Can you tell me about your experiences and research endeavors since you graduated from Wake Forest? 

A:  I am drawn to examining land management challenges and finding creative solutions which take into consideration the needs of both humanity and the environment.  My particular specialization, silviculture, embodies just that—it is the art and science of managing forests to meet the needs of diverse stakeholders. For the past few years, I have been working on a collaborative project examining how tree species and certain combinations of tree species on plantations affect their growth and water use.  This is important because the majority of plantations in Panama are comprised of a non-native species, teak, that has not only grown poorly but also uses a lot of water. This can be problematic in communities where potable water is limited, especially during the yearly four-month long dry season. My group was excited by the prospect of finding native tree species that could outgrow teak and use less water. After spending a year in a community downstream of the tree plantation where I had worked with limited water access, I felt even more motivated to find a solution that is socially just and environmentally sensitive. I really enjoy this type of applied work, and after I complete my Ph.D. this year, I hope to continue to explore issues related to this theme.

Sinacore takes measurements of water consumed by a cut teak tree.

Save by Savoring with Simran Sethi

January 23rd, 2018

Simran Sethi, a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy and author of the award-winning book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, will share insights on how the cocoa industry can, and should, be a driver for social and environmental change. The event will include a guided tasting of four distinct cocoa origins as a means of helping chocolate lovers better understand craft chocolate and make decisions that will support a more sustainable chocolate industry. Registration is capped at 50 individuals, please reserve your spot here.

Winter Break Energy Conservation

December 14th, 2017

This temperature setback program significantly reduces energy consumption on campus. Through this program, the University has saved over $300,000 and 2,300 metric tons of carbon emissions over the past eight years.

We are asking for help from the campus community in conserving energy during Winter Break. It is the responsibility of each building occupant to do the following before leaving:

  1. Turn off all lights and shut off all office equipment when you leave for break. This includes computers, monitors, printers, copiers, coffee makers, etc.
  2. Close all office and classroom doors. Make sure all operable windows are closed as well.
  3. Lower and close blinds, if applicable.
  4. Remove all perishables from refrigerators and increase the temperature to the maximum setting possible.

Thank you for supporting this effort to save energy during the holidays! Please note that students, faculty, and staff who intend to visit or work on campus during the holiday period are advised to dress appropriately for the cooler conditions.

ReCycle End of Semester Bike Return

November 28th, 2017
Calling all ReCycle bikeshare participants! Your bike is in need of some TLC over winter break. Use this form to sign up for a time slot between December 4 – 6 to return your bike to Outdoor Pursuits (located in the Sutton Center). Please note that bikes will be distributed back to participants at the beginning of the spring semester.

Where Are They Now: Jenny Miller (’14)

November 17th, 2017

Q: How did your Wake Forest education prepare you for where you are now?

A:  My liberal arts education at Wake Forest exposed me to new fields of information, challenged me to think creatively, and allowed me the opportunity to engage with people who I might not otherwise have met. The interdisciplinary nature of my experience proved essential post-graduation, as it prepared me for the winding road that would lead me to the job I have today.

The path toward my desired career in conservation proved much bumpier than I originally imagined. After graduating, I held multiple positions—from the manager of the Wake Forest Campus Garden, to working as an assistant for two vice presidents in Washington, DC.  Thankfully, my Wake Forest education had taught me to embrace new opportunities, to do the best job I could with the understanding that my work still contributed positively to humanity.

Q:  You held two different positions with the Wake Forest Office of Sustainability.  What were they, and what did you gain from these experiences?

A: I was first the Manager for the Campus Garden, where I learned how to oversee projects and engage successful teams. Effective oversight involved tracking schedules for planting, watering and harvesting, and ensuring that important resources were always available in order to create a productive garden space. Growing plants and composting are not always activities with which people are comfortable, so I quickly learned how to meet the volunteers at each of their individual levels. After determining their understanding of sustainable agriculture, I planned specific projects which were appropriately engaging for each person; this allowed volunteers to participate in ways which were meaningful to them, yet also productive success of the garden.

As the Special Campaign Coordinator for the Office, I worked with campuses across the Southeast to build momentum for agricultural biodiversity in regional food systems. This effort provided experience in learning how to best tailor and communicate ideas to different constituencies, as well as how to coordinate community groups to bring an idea to fruition. Ultimately, my work as Special Campaign Coordinator culminated in connecting Winston-Salem residents, local entrepreneurs, students, campus professionals, and a special guest—author and environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva—for a tree-planting event in the Reynolda Gardens.

Q:  You now work as the Sustainable Markets and Finance Associate with Rare, an international conservation organization. What does your job entail? 

A: As an Associate for the Sustainable Markets and Finance team at Rare, I liaise with program staff in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, and the United States to align goals and track progress for the local development of sustainable markets projects. These projects include training communities to support behavior change through the provision of technical knowledge and resources for maintaining sustainable watersheds, fisheries and agriculture. We also work to find markets for individuals to sell their sustainable products so that they can support their livelihoods and local economy. Additionally, I develop and manage my department’s budget and provide administrative support by tracking timelines, commitments, travel, and overseeing various team meetings. Finally, I spend time communicating with corporate business partners, financiers, media, policy-makers and stakeholders to build understanding of Rare’s programs.

Q:  What is your favorite part about showing up for work each day?

A: My favorite part of showing up to work each day is knowing I’ll positively support communities globally, while achieving personal growth. My work contributes to achieving long-term conservation, dually improving nature and people’s livelihoods, while the talented group at Rare guarantees I’ll continue to learn and absorb useful information for building a better future.

Parking and Transportation Now Transportation and Parking Services

November 8th, 2017

“In the past year, we have increased our fleet of shuttles from six vehicles to eleven,” says Bryant. In doing so, the department hopes to generate more effective and reliable transport to WFU satellite locations and Winston-Salem hotspots. Bryant also notes that the means of tracking shuttles has been updated for convenience and efficiency. “We are proud to have added the Transloc GPS system, which provides users with real-time access to bus routes and schedules.”

In terms of traveling beyond the vicinity of Winston-Salem, Transportation and Parking Services has partnered with the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) to increase the accessibility of carpooling and vanpooling options. Using the ride-matching service ShareTheRideNC, the Wake Forest population has access to a network of over 30 different companies and universities from which they can safely find a carpool partner(s).

Bryant shares that there are more exciting updates to come. “We are looking to add airport shuttle services to the mix by spring 2018, among other future services. All of our new changes and improvements are not only intended to give the Wake community more options for getting where they need to go, but also to increase our commitment to sustainability.”

The offerings complement university-wide programs that support alternatives to SOV or single-occupancy-vehicle travel (one driver in one car). Zipcar offers car sharing to those who choose not to bring vehicles onto campus but who still need access to a vehicle for unique trips. Additionally, the bike sharing program, Re-Cycle, offers a two-wheeled option by the hour or by the semester.

“Although some individuals would like to drive every inch of their routes and park at the front door of their destinations, this isn’t a realistic expectation in a changing world,” adds Dedee DeLongpré Johnston, the university’s chief sustainability officer. “Our students will graduate and enter a world of changing transportation infrastructure. For those who live and work in metropolitan areas, alternatives to SOV travel are the norm.”

To discover more about the department’s alternative transportation solutions, as well as transportation-related offerings, like electric vehicle charging stations, visit their website.

Call for Spring 2018 Interns

November 3rd, 2017

Please note: successful candidates may be required to return from winter break one day early to attend an orientation session.

To apply, please fill out this form. Applications are due by Friday, November 17.


Interns will be part of the OoS Intern Team and are required to attend weekly team meetings.

Public Art Intern
The public art intern will work collaboratively with the Office of Sustainability, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and other campus partners to create a public art experience with a focus on environmental justice. The art experience will take place during the Office of Sustainability’s Earth Week celebration, March 19-23, 2018. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, curating the work of WFU and community artists, determining the experience, preparing the exhibition or other artistic outcome, planning an opening reception, and aiding in promotion. The intern will work closely with the Office of Sustainability’s event coordinator and a group of student volunteers.

Sustainability in Dining Intern
The sustainability in dining intern will work collaboratively with Deacon Dining management and the Office of Sustainability on a variety of topics, including communicating current sustainable dining initiatives, planning events to educate and raise awareness, promoting plant-forward dining by communicating its environmental and health benefits, and engaging in initiatives to reduce waste from dining facilities. The intern will also work with the newly-formed Plant-Forward Dining Committee and Campus Nutritionist Brooke Orr. This internship reports directly to the WFU Department of Hospitality and Auxiliary Services.

Waste Reduction Intern
The waste reduction intern will work to create and implement various initiatives that reduce the amount of waste generated on campus. These initiatives may include, but are not necessarily limited to, consultation with students, faculty, and staff who plan events; residence hall waste reduction; move-in and move-out waste reduction and diversion; and both general and targeted outreach. The intern will also work with the newly-formed Compost Crew to expand the on-campus collection of food waste for composting.

Propose a Unique Internship
Have a great idea for a sustainability-focused internship that’s not listed? Submit a unique internship proposal. We are always looking for new, innovative ways for students to generate sustainability-focused solutions on campus. Your proposal should include an articulation of the need for the proposed project and the landscape of issues surrounding the project.

Meet our current interns on our staff page.


Event Assistant
The event assistant will work directly with the Office of Sustainability’s event coordinator and with a group of campus stakeholders in planning, supporting, and executing sustainability events and programs. Major duties will include assisting in social media marketing both before and during events, aiding in onsite event logistics, and leading a small group of volunteers during events. Experience with live-streaming events is preferred.

Recycling Assistant
The recycling assistant will be tasked with monitoring and assessing existing waste diversion infrastructure. Responsibilities include conducting inventories of recycling and waste receptacles and their placement on campus, assessing levels of contamination, and identifying areas that require intervention. Much of the work will be observational, but communication with stakeholders will also be required.

Take Action to Draw Down Greenhouse Gas Emissions

October 31st, 2017

Dr. Katharine Wilkinson spoke at Wake Forest University on October 5 on the 80 solutions to reversing global warming.

Drawdown transforms the doom-and-gloom narrative of climate change into a story of courage and possibility. It shows that 80 solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are already in place, economically viable, and being implemented in communities around the world with steadfast determination, and that 20 more innovative solutions are coming out of the gates.

Nevertheless, the idea of reversing global warming is hard to comprehend on an individual level. It’s no wonder that throughout Wilkinson’s visit, the question of “How can I get involved with Project Drawdown?” surfaced again and again at different engagements.

The answer, as explained by Wilkinson, is that all solutions presented in Drawdown depend on how individuals and institutions choose to invest their time, energy, finances, and thought into reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Drawdown proves that while decisions made by industry, government, and other groups have a major impact on our future on this planet, individual decisions are equally as important.

To help you determine what you can do to make a difference, we have compiled a list of five of the 26 Drawdown solutions being implemented at Wake Forest that you can adopt today.

Advocate for women’s rights. If you add solutions #6 and #7, Educating Girls and Family Planning, empowering women and girls is the number one solution to reversing global warming. Due to existing inequalities, women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, women and girls are vital to successfully addressing climate change and humanity’s overall resilience. Join the WFU Women’s Center for events such as Passing the Mic or become a peer educator for women’s equity with the L.E.A.V.E.s Program. By improving the rights, well-being, and equity of women and girls, we can improve the future of life on this planet.

Say no to food waste. Eight of the top 20 Drawdown solutions pertain to food. The #3 ranked solution is Reduced Food Waste and the #4 solution is a Plant-Rich Diet — both of which people can adopt immediately and at no cost. That being said, how many times have you tossed out milk that hasn’t gone bad, or forgotten about leftovers in your refrigerator? Remember to take only what you want to eat when eating at a dining hall, be sure to prioritize leftovers, grocery shop only when needed, and use your senses to determine when food has gone bad instead of relying solely on ambiguous sell-by labels.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. To quote Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Shifting to a plant-rich diet is a demand-side solution to global warming. By dining multiple times per day, imagine how many opportunities you have to turn the tables. With Wake Forest’s dedicated to plant-forward dining, it’s easy to turn Pollan’s mantra into a daily routine.

Get there the green way. Transportation produces the equivalent of 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions annually. At Wake Forest, students, faculty, and staff have access to SharetheRideNC, Zipcar, the Re-Cycle Bike Share Program, Wake Forest shuttles, and local public transportation and ride-sharing opportunities from PART.

Take action. Get involved locally and nationally with those who are already implementing solutions. For example, join the local Sierra Club chapter, become a member of the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, support female education and empowerment, and elect local, state, and national representatives who support clean water, air, strong climate action, and community well-being. Remember, only you are in charge of how you spend your time, energy, finances, and thought— put your power to good use.

Photo courtesy of the WFU Women’s Center Facebook.

Author Offers New Approach To Climate Change

October 23rd, 2017

The book Drawdown serves “to map, measure and model the most substantive solutions to climate change and bring those solutions and the answers that we’ve uncovered to life,” Wilkinson said in her presentation.

Wilkinson was brought to Wake Forest to present various ways in which everyone, including Wake Forest students, can participate in the movement to reverse the effects of climate change.

Drawdown functions as a handbook that presents 100 solutions to climate change, specifically focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Eighty of the solutions have been proven effective and scaled, while 20 solutions are considered ‘coming attractions,’ as these solutions are currently being tested.

Each of the solutions are ranked in terms of how much carbon dioxide they would reduce within practice. In addition to rankings, the solutions are presented alongside their cost of implementation and operational savings. By providing figures, Wilkinson adds an economic perspective to the topic of sustainability.

Emma Hughes, a Wake Forest mathematical economics major and environmental studies minor said the economic element “adds value for someone who doesn’t care as deeply about the environment.”

Wilkinson’s interdisciplinary approach to climate change is a product of her education and prior work experiences. She received her bachelor’s degree in Religion from Sewanee and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Geography and Environment from Oxford. Prior to working at Project Drawdown, Wilkinson worked in various consultancy firms, taught at Oxford and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Before Drawdown, Wilkinson published her first book, God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change, in 2012. This book was a product of her research at Oxford.

Sebastian Irby, a Wake Forest senior who created her own interdisciplinary sustainability studies major with a focus in climate change, has worked within the Office of Sustainability throughout her time at Wake Forest. This event was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, Office of the Dean of the College and Sustainability Graduate Programs. Additionally, Irby is referencing Wilkinson’s God & Green as a resource as she prepares her senior thesis.

“This is in a lot of the circles that I run in daily,” Irby said in the auditorium before the event had begun.

Within Wilkinson’s top 20 solutions, the most represented areas of impact include various solutions centered around food, energy and land use.

Wilkinson concludes by emphasizing the multi-dimensional benefits to her mission, “One of the things that becomes clear when you come through the lens of solutions, is that — yes, these are ways to address greenhouse gases, great … they’re also the means of building a more vibrant and equitable and prosperous and resilient world where people are healthier and happier.”

Originally published in the Old Gold and Black.

The Age of Consequences – Screening & Discussion with Producer Sophie Robinson

October 12th, 2017

Following the screening, the film’s executive producer, Sophie Robinson, will lead a discussion.

The event will begin at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 1, in the Pugh Auditorium at the Benson University Center. Admission is free and seats are limited.