Illinois Wesleyan Is All About Being 'Green'
September 17, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – As late summer rains turn the Illinois Wesleyan campus literally
green with thriving foliage, a contingent of students, faculty and staff are hatching
plans to turn the campus still more green in the environmentally friendly sense.
Sixteen representatives of the University attended the biennial Greening of the Campus
conference at Ball State University in early September, quite possibly the largest
delegation of any of the 173 participating institutions. IWU representatives included
members of the Sierra Student Coalition, students and staff from the Office of Residential
Life (ORL), and a group of faculty and staff who delivered a presentation, "Integrating
Sustainability Into Higher Education at Illinois Wesleyan University," based on a
2006 campus workshop and its outgrowth in curriculum development and sustainability
efforts among participants. "Sustainability," which reaches beyond environmentalism
to social justice and economic concerns, is the concept of meeting the needs of today
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
While at the conference, IWU representatives agreed to join the Focus the Nation project
that will culminate on Jan. 31 with symposia held at universities and other venues
throughout the country, centered on collaborative discussion about "Global Warming
Solutions for America." For more information, visit www.focusthenation.org.
Among the sustainability initiatives that followed IWU's 2006 Sustainability Workshop,
which were highlighted in the group's conference presentation:
• the Talloires Declaration, an action plan for incorporating environmental sustainability
into higher education, was signed by President Richard F. Wilson following a petition
drive by students;
• the University agreed to construct its next building, the Minor Myers Welcome Center,
with green architecture standards to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) certification and with an energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system;
• the Office of Residential Life created student worker positions to function as Sustainability
Educators in each residence hall;
• the Admissions Office purchased "green tags," supporting alternative energy to offset
the carbon emissions from vehicle miles traveled by counselors in the student recruiting
• sustainability themes were incorporated into interdisciplinary courses, including
a mathematics course taught by Professor Zahia Drici, where students design mathematical
models based on real-life problems, and a psychology course on statistics taught by
Associate Professor Linda Kunce. Kunce also led a 2007 May Term travel course to Vancouver
Island that incorporated ecotourism into the exploration of "a meaningful life," and
examined how psychological science can be applied to efforts to sustain not only the
self, but also society and the environment.
"We are hopeful that these changes and future educational efforts will yield further
steps toward a truly sustainable university campus that teaches sustainability not
only through the curriculum, but through its every action," said Associate Professor
Abigail Jahiel, director of the Environmental Studies Program.
Following the presentation, group members fielded many interested questions from other
conference participants who were inspired by the work being done at Illinois Wesleyan.
Jahiel noted that people were particularly intrigued by the commitment to sustainability
expressed in the University's Mission Statement.
Susan Abraham '08, an environmental studies major who attended the conference, said
she came back filled with ideas and energy from being surrounded by like-minded enthusiasts,
and realized it may be fitting that the conference is conducted every other year,
so there is time to implement the plans it inspires.
Director of Residential Life Matt Damschroder said students on the ORL staff have
a part in role modeling, educating, creating programs and translating the ethos of
sustainability to their peers.
"Because students who live on campus have a significantly greater impact on the institution's
environmental footprint, we feel very strongly that environmental education targeted
to changing attitudes and behaviors of residential students is a critical component
of the mission of the Office of Residential Life," he said.
Students attending along with Abraham were Leslie Morrison '08, Sierra Student Coalition
president; Abby Mohaupt '08, Residential Community Advisor in Pfeiffer Hall; Thomas
Jung '10, First-Year Resident Advisor in Dolan Hall; Josh Clouse '08, First-Year Resident
Advisor in Ferguson Hall and manager of PreShrunk, the IWU Thrift Store project (which
supports sustainability goals); and Margaret Kane '09, First-Year Resident Advisor
in Munsell Hall. In addition to Drici, Kunce, Jahiel and Damschroder, faculty and
staff attending the conference included Biology Professor and Chair Given Harper,
Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Stephen Hoffman, Assistant
Director of Admissions Chris Kawakita, Admissions Counselor Van Miller, Gulick Residence
Hall Director Jacob Meltzer and Assistant Director for New Media Ann Aubry.
Contact: Ann Aubry, (309) 556-3181