Wofford College’s Environmental Studies Department Celebrates a “Decade of Ruggedness”

Stewardship of the earth’s resources will take a significant leap forward when Sullivan Foundation partner school Wofford College opens the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies in late 2020. Wofford broke ground on the facility October 18, 2019, and the Center will open next fall.

The 20,000-square-foot facility will be Green Globe Certified for its sustainable and environmentally conscious features, such as a partial green roof and solar roof panels. The building will feature advanced laboratory space, a seminar room, outdoor patio and garden spaces, and classroom and office space for Wofford’s Department of Environmental Studies as well as other sciences.

The building will also include a system for capturing rainwater for irrigation and will use cross-laminated timbers made of sustainable, all-wood construction.

Wofford celebrated three of its Environmental Studies scholars—Ireland McGaughey, Casey Harcourt and Reeves Goettee—on the cover of school publication Wofford Today. The three women are all members of the 10th anniversary class of environmental studies majors at Wofford. “They’re products of everything the program was designed to be,” according to a Wofford press release, “and they’re going to make a difference wherever they go—no question!”

Related: Wofford College’s Launch Program puts student entrepreneurs on fast track to success.

“The students who major in environmental studies usually come from one of two pathways,” said Dr. Kaye Savage, professor and chair of the department. “Some have grown up hunting and fishing and spending time in the woods with their families. They love that culture and love being outside. Then we have the students who come because they feel like the world is falling apart, and they need to make a difference.”

Savage speaks from experience when she says those differences make for interesting class discussions. Add the interdisciplinary nature of the curriculum to the mix, and it’s not uncommon for a topic such as climate change to start with science but jump to politics, the economy, demographics, denial and even religion or science fiction.

“In environmental studies, we emphasize the importance of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities in understanding the world. They’re the legs of the three-legged stool on which environmental studies students must metaphorically sit,” said Dr. Peter Brewitt, assistant professor of environmental studies.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the major is what sets Wofford apart from other colleges and universities,” says John Lane, a 1977 Wofford graduate whose team taught the class and learning community that became the model for the major. Lane became the first director of the environmental studies program, which was designed to be broad with a rigorous fieldwork component. Interdisciplinary courses—an introduction and a senior seminar—bookend required courses and electives that highlight environmental issues in the context of different disciplines.

“You can connect environmental studies to anything,” Harcourt said. “That and the hands-on nature of the subject drew me into the major.”

this photo shows a groundbreaking ceremony at a new environmental studies facility at Wofford College

Wofford College broke ground on its new environmental studies facility in October 2019.

Savage explained that breadth is important because environmental problems cross boundaries. “If we’re going to tackle those problems, we have to have an understanding of complex systems,” she says.

Students gain depth through the major’s capstone experience. “The capstones are time-consuming but rewarding,” said Dr. Terry Ferguson, a 1975 Wofford alumnus, associate professor and senior researcher for the Goodall Environmental Studies Center. “Working with students on projects of their own choosing and advising them as they ask questions and work through problems has turned out to be one of the more critical aspects of the program.”

Related: Wofford College student brings power of art to a Spartanburg, South Carolina jail.

Harcourt chose to do a capstone project on the practicality of green roofs. It builds on knowledge in sustainability, physics, botany, data analysis and even aesthetics.

Goettee combined photography and environmental studies for her capstone, which explores how humans interact with the landscape. She took most of the photos while she was in New Zealand. “I call the photos anti-selfies,” Goettee says. “My project is a commentary on place and how people should be present in the landscape, instead of making it all about them.”

McGaughey’s capstone delves into the world of hydroponic farming. “This major speaks to my soul,” she says.

Natural resource depletion, overpopulation, deforestation, genetic engineering, global warming … Goettee still remembers the waves of environmental gloom and depressing statistics she and other students discussed for weeks in one of her first environmental studies courses.

“On one hand, I was compelled to act, but on the other, I felt like I was losing hope,” she said. “To lift our spirits, Dr. Savage had each of us bring in a positive article about the environment. It was really uplifting.”

The exercise wasn’t on the syllabus, but it’s what her students needed, so she adapted. That’s something Savage says she’s gotten better at since coming to Wofford.

Savage’s background was in environmental science, specifically geology and geochemistry. She’s also an artist, and her art—handmade paper and mixed media sculptures that explore geologic and hydrologic data—was her way into a department shared by Lane, a poet, environmental writer and professor of English, and Ferguson, a geoarchaeologist and photographer.

“This was new to me,” said Savage, whose team taught several introductory classes with Lane in the beginning to get the hang of the “studies” part of the major.

In the fall of 2020, Savage will be the department’s veteran and will become director of the Goodall Environmental Studies Center in Lane’s stead. Lane and Ferguson both will retire at the end of the spring semester. Brewitt will take over as chair of the department.

Ferguson, who has been at the college for 40 years, was just published in Nature Scientific Reports. He will continue that research on platinum levels in sediments in the Midlands of South Carolina that supports an extraterrestrial impact event that occurred nearly 13,000 years ago. He’s also working with several other research teams, including one that’s studying the Glendale area near the Goodall Environmental Studies Center.

Lane will be promoting another book, Seven Days on the Santee Delta, with two more on the way: a second novel and a nonfiction work combining autobiographical experiences growing up in Spartanburg County with Ferguson’s research on buried organic deposits. Lane also is working on another poetry manuscript.

The department’s faculty also includes Dr. Amy Telligman, assistant professor, who came to the college as part of the Milliken Sustainability Initiative at Wofford College. Dr. Jennifer Bradham and another tenure-track faculty member will join the department next year.

“Now we have a food systems lab in the works that Amy is starting, and our students will get hands-on experience—from garden to stove. That’s a direction that we didn’t anticipate 10 years ago,” Savage said. “Who knows what our other new faculty will bring to the department? It will be amazing.”

Goettee said the conversations she has had with the environmental studies faculty after class or during their labs make the department special. “They’ve guided me toward opportunities that I never would have considered for myself, and they all foster a culture of ruggedness,” she says.

“They’re right there with you,” McGaughey said. “Getting in the water. Carrying kayaks. Doing the labs. We’ve been out there in the rain, and still, somehow it’s fun.”

According to Savage, Lane was rallying a class before a particularly wet, cold lab at the Goodall Environmental Studies Center when he first used the “culture of ruggedness” phrase. It’s been the department’s motto — and a point of pride — ever since.

This story was adapted from a press release and Wofford Today article appearing on the Wofford College website.



Edible Bowls and Plates Could Take a Bite out of Plastic Waste

When the bowl tastes as good as the Cap’n Crunch (or the soup, salad or fruit) it contains, the world has moved one step closer to reducing plastic waste. And a startup in South Africa has made that a real possibility.

Munch Bowls, founded in 2014 by artist/entrepreneur Georgina de Kock, offers edible, biodegradable, single-use bowls and saucers made from wheat. The bowls have a shelf life of 15 months or longer and can hold any foods, including hot soups, for more than five hours, the company’s website states.

Related: This bioplastics entrepreneur is helping save the world from plastic waste.

According to CNN, the edible bowls were originally made by hand but can now be mass-produced. “I was looking around and just noticing all the rubble that is created by us humans, and it really started irritating me,” de Kock told CNN. “Whatever you can put on a plate, you can put in the bowl. It’s the perfect size to hold in your hand.”

this photo shows a young woman eating food from an edible bowl

Edible bowls and plates from companies like Munch Bowls could help reduce single-use plastic waste created by restaurants that offer carryout foods.

Munch Bowls sells its edible bowls to hotels and companies in the hospitality industry in South Africa, Belgium, Singapore and Dubai. They sell at a wholesale price of 33 cents apiece, which is a little more expensive than plastic food containers, but, unlike the latter, the dinnerware can be eaten as part of the meal.

The Burn-In reports that de Kock recently took on a new partner and hopes to open six new production lines in 2020. Other items to be offered include coffee cups, spoons and in-flight meal containers.

Related: The world’s top plastic polluters say they will join the fight to reduce plastic waste.

Munch Bowls isn’t the first company to provide edible dinnerware. Polish entrepreneur Jerzy Wysocki, founder of Biotrem, invented a process to manufacture edible plates, bowls and cutlery out of wheat bran more than 15 years ago. Biotrem now makes about 15 million edible, biobased plates each year, along with cutlery made from fully biodegradable PLA bioplastic and wheat bran. In an interview with Phys.org earlier this year, Wysocki said edible dinnerware can also be made out of corn, barley, oats, cassava and algae.

Biotrem has even gotten a boost in exposure from the new Netflix series, “The Witcher.” According to Biotrem’s Instagram page, the series, which is filmed in Poland, has featured the company’s edible plates and bowls in scenes that depict the series’ “witcher schools.”

Meanwhile, Phys.org reports that researchers at Gdansk University of Technology has developed edible cutlery made with potato starch. One of those researchers, Professor Helena Janik, noted that these forks, spoons and knives can be safely eaten by sea creatures as well. “We are the only ones so far to have tested the biodegradability of our products on living aquatic organisms, and it looks like this cutlery is safe for the environment,” she said.

The demand for edible plates and bowls should rise dramatically when the European Union’s ban on plastic plates and cutlery goes into effect in 2021. And as production ramps up to meet the growing demand, pricing is expected to come down.

Forget Willy Wonka: ChocoSol Traders Is a Different Kind of Chocolate Factory

ChocoSol Traders isn’t your run-of-the-mill chocolate factory, and founder Michael Sacco is no Willy Wonka. But he does offer life lessons about living harmoniously with the environment through chocolate—except that it’s not your typical chocolate either.

Located in Toronto, ChocoSol Traders is a social enterprise that challenges the sweet tooth with bars made of artisanal dark chocolate that’s roasted, winnowed and stone-ground in-house. ChocoSol’s low-sugar chocolate bars and beverages feature sustainably grown and ethically sourced cacao as well as coffee, vanilla, coconut and other products from indigenous communities in southern Mexico’s Lacondon Jungle and Oaxacan mountains, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala.

“We are dedicated to offering a socially just, ecological and dignified alternative to the conventional approach to trade, food production and sharing,” according to the company’s mission statement. “This means an ongoing, reflective practice of working in partnership, collaboration and cooperation with growers and communities in the Americas.”

According to The Star, ChocoSol Traders chocolates “might seem unchocolatey to many—a healthful, spiritual, dark and bitter-tasting food and drink hailing from Mexico Profundo, the ancient Indigenous Mayan culture of Mexico.”

this photo depicts one of the ChocosSol Traders bikes used to transport and grind chocolate

ChocoSol Traders uses bicycles both to transport its display products to farmers markets and to grind its artisanal chocolate made from ethically sourced ingredients.

Sold online and in farmers markets around Toronto, ChocoSol’s products are, in fact, marketed as foods rather than candy. And in keeping with the company’s environmentally friendly mission, its “chocolistas” use bicycles to grind their chocolate and to power the blenders that mix their chocolate drinks.

As world music website Uma Nota reports, Sacco came up with the idea for ChocoSol Traders while installing a solar concentrator in an indigenous village in southern Mexico. There, a village elder and medicine woman introduced him to her traditional handmade chocolate and locally grown cacao beans. “Upon tasting this ancient form of rustic chocolate with its strong flavors and medicinal bitter kick, Michael, like most northerners, had his expectations blown out of the water, expecting the chocolate to be smooth like a Hershey bar,” said ChocoSol Traders co-owner Mathieu McFadden. “But what he did was scrape the surface of an ancient, beautiful and sacred tradition.”

Before relocating to Toronto, Sacco launched his own chocolate business in Mexico, selling his products in farmers markets around the region. He started out grinding the chocolate by hand but later switched to bicycle-powered grinders. “Bicycles are one of the few human-scale tools that are present and can be repaired everywhere on the planet,” McFadden told Uma Nota. “ChocoSol works with artisanal scale tools as opposed to machines, which displace the workers and disconnect them from the process.”

this photo shows a child learning how to use a ChocoSol Traders bike.

A young visitor learns how to grind ChocoSol Traders chocolate with a bicycle.

Uma Nota describes ChocoSol Traders as “a model in social enterprise and in fusing traditional food production approaches with modern applications. They still work directly with various indigenous farmers who specialize in Mayan forest garden techniques, which means organic agriculture drawing on ancient varieties of fruit trees, edible plants and sustainable goods like cacao, coffee, vanilla and cinnamon, which can be traded with ChocoSol and neighboring communities.”

But is the rest of the world ready for healthy chocolate that tastes nothing like your classic Dove bar? Apparently so. ChocoSol’s Jaguar Pure bar, featuring 75 percent albino cacao from the ancient forest gardens of Mexico, won a gold and bronze medal in the International Chocolate Awards Americas Competition last summer, while its Swirl and Crunch bars claimed the bronze.

IKEA Says Goodbye to Single-Use Plastics on Jan. 1, 2020

Single-use plastic will be a relic of the past for IKEA by Jan. 1, 2020, as part of a pledge the home furnishings giant made more than two years ago.

The Swedish retailer vowed in June 2018 to eliminate single-use plastics from its line of home furnishings and from its restaurants, cafes and bistros worldwide by the start of 2020. It also pledged that all plastics used in its home furnishings will be based on renewable or recycled materials by 2030. It’s all part of the company’s sustainability strategy, dubbed People and Planet Positive.

In addition to getting rid of all single-use plastic by 2020, IKEA has also pledged to use only plastics made from recyclable and renewable materials in its home furnishings by 2030.

“We need to make … all of our disposables better for both people and the planet,” the company said in a video that introduced its more sustainable and disposable food containers. These products are “much more in tune with Mother Nature,” including carryout food containers made out of paper from sustainably managed forests and cane sugar.

Related: This bioplastics entrepreneur is saving the world from plastic waste.

Plastic forks, spoons and knives will be made from responsibly sourced wood, while plastic straws will be replaced by sustainable straws featuring paper from sustainably managed forests.

IKEA will also stop selling single-use plastic and plastic-coated products such as straws, plates, cups, freezer bags and garbage bags. Additionally, according to CNN, IKEA is aiming to purchase 100% renewable energy by 2020 and to make offer zero-emission home delivery by 2025. The company has invested $2 billion in renewable-energy projects that will include 416 wind turbines. And as of 2018, it had already installed about 750,000 solar panels on IKEA buildings.

As the BBC reported, IKEA also plans to offer more non-meat meals and snacks in its restaurants.

“Through our size and reach, we have the opportunity to inspire and enable more than 1 billion people to live better lives, within the limits of the planet,” Torbjorn Loof, the CEO of Inter IKEA Group, said. “We are committed to taking the lead, working together with everyone—from raw material suppliers all the way to our customers and partners.”

Related: The world’s top plastic polluters say they will join the fight to reduce plastic waste


High Student Voter Turnout Earns Award for Winthrop University

Winthrop University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, recently earned a Gold Seal from the All In Democracy Challenge for its high student voter turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Winthrop students’ turnout was at 40.1 percent, thus qualifying the university as a Gold Seal winner with a turnout of between 40 and 49 percent. Overall turnout for college students was 40.3 percent in the 2018 midterm elections, a more than two-fold increase over 2014. Winthrop more than doubled the number of its students voting from 2014, going from 19.8 percent to 40.1 percent.

Related: Winthrop University is a national leader in student voter engagement

Katarina Moyon, director of the John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, said Winthrop’s inclusion in the Gold Seal category put the university in with many other highly regarded, politically active campuses. “Our goal now is to achieve Platinum Seal recognition where more than half of our student body is voting by 2028,” Moyon said.

Winthrop typically trains Student Voting Ambassadors to help register students, to hand out “check your voter registration” cards and to distribute absentee voting procedures. Campus clubs, organizations and academic departments hold dozens of election-related events and will continue to do so during the 2020 primaries and presidential election.

The full list of campuses receiving seals of recognition can be found here.

More than 550 campuses participated in the challenge to develop a more inclusive democracy so that the electorate mirrors the country’s makeup. The idea also is that college students will democratically engage on an ongoing basis, during and between elections, and in elections.

Related: The pivotal role of youth fighting climate change

The All In Challenge does not support or oppose candidates for public office or take a stand for or against any political party.

Winthrop’s voter efforts over the past few years has resulted in the university being designated in 2017 and 2019 as a Voter Friendly Campus by the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASP-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Its student voter turnout earned the university a Bronze Shield from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge for the 2016 election.

Winthrop is recognized among the Top 80 in the Student Voting category of the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings and is one of three institutions listed from South Carolina.

For more information, contact Moyon at moyonk@winthrop.edu.

This story was modified slightly from the original version appearing on the Winthrop University website.

Sullivan Award Winner Shares Untold Stories of African-Americans at Washington and Lee University

By Lindsey Nair

MaKayla Lorick, winner of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Washington and Lee University (W&L), can trace her love of stories to early childhood, when her grandparents told lively yarns about their younger years. She followed that thread to W&L, where it has afforded her the opportunity to seek and record some of the university’s most important overlooked tales.

Lorick, an English major who is minoring in creative writing, has been working since the summer of 2018 on a multi-institutional project that aims to incorporate more African-American perspectives into the history of desegregation and integration at private Southern schools. Her role allows her to comb through W&L’s Special Collections and gather oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

MaKayla Lorick received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Washington and Lee University in 2019.

“It’s such an exciting thing to dip your fingers into history and to listen to other people’s stories,” she said. “It betters your life and the lives of others. Just to color in one person’s perspective on history is beautiful.”

The overall project, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” is a collaboration with Centre College and Sullivan Foundation partner schools Furman University and Rollins College, and is funded by a grant from Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). Along with its partner institutions, W&L is working to build a shared digital archive of information regarding the history of desegregation and integration at these schools. At W&L, the project is being led by Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sydney Bufkin, with support from Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

Compared to public colleges and universities in the South, whose public status and reliance on federal funding forced them to integrate in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, Bufkin said, “the history of integration at W&L looks very different. It’s quieter, but also less effective and slower. We are grappling with the consequences of a response to integration that really, when you look at the documents and history, appears to be an attempt to do as little as possible… It is a history that we continue to live, so I think recognizing some of the ways the institution has dealt with race—or not dealt with race—historically is really valuable and is something we can address a little more head-on, especially as we try to do things differently.”

Related: Learn more about how students like MaKayla Lorick qualify for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Washington and Lee’s board of trustees did not take action regarding integration until a full decade after Brown vs. Board, in July 1964, with a statement that was viewed by most as deliberately vague and uninspired. Without using the words “integration,” “desegregation” or “race,” it simply stated that no policy of discrimination existed at W&L. It was accompanied by no effort to recruit students of color or make W&L a more welcoming place for them.

Another eight years passed before Carl Linwood Smothers and Walter Blake became the first African-American graduates of W&L in 1972. The W&L School of Law had awarded its first degree to a black student, Leslie Devan Smith Jr., in 1969.

Initial goals for the ACS project included identifying materials currently in Special Collections that belong in the digital archive; creating an annotated bibliography; collecting oral histories from alumni, faculty and staff; and determining how to incorporate those materials into the curriculum. As Bufkin considered the oral history piece, she said, she immediately thought of Lorick, who had taken her African-American literature class.

photo MaKayla Lorick speaking to an audience

MaKayla Lorick has been combing through W&L’s Special Collections and gathering oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

English professor Lesley Wheeler agreed that Lorick, her advisee, would be a perfect fit, as she has an interest in digital humanities, and spent the summer of 2016 assisting history professor Ted DeLaney on an African-American history project in Special Collections. (Since becoming involved in the project, Lorick was also selected to be a member of the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L). Although the ACS grant does not cover student researchers, Bufkin was able to fund Lorick’s role with Mellon Digital Humanities summer research funding and, as the academic year commenced, with a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship.

What started as a simple summer job search became something incredibly meaningful, Lorick said. “I thought I was just going to get some random summer job on campus but Professor Wheeler really opened a door with one tiny conversation. Stumbling onto this project is one of the best things that’s happened to me. It’s really serendipity.”

Lorick began by reading sections of Mame Warren’s 1998 history, “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee” and Blaine Brownell’s “Washington and Lee University: 1930-2000.” She also scoured yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspapers, letters and other sources in Special Collections to start a list of people to approach for oral histories.

While the project was initially focused on black men who graduated in 1974, the first year with a noteworthy number of black graduates (17), Lorick and Bufkin soon realized that scope was too narrow. They also knew that Warren had already collected oral histories from those men. Lorick wanted to include the perspectives of black women, who had not been interviewed for Warren’s book, so she began to build a list from the first few years of coeducation at W&L, from 1985-1990. She also wanted to include faculty and staff, not just alumni.

Related: Rollins College Remembers Alumnus and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Fred Rogers

Midway through the summer, it was time to start scheduling interviews. Over the next couple of months, she would record conversations with Ted Delaney ’85, associate professor of history at W&L and a Lexington native; Edwin Walker, a retired Print Shop employee; Stephanie Coleman ’89; Willard Dumas III ’91; and Marquita Dunn, who retired from Dining Services. These interviews included questions about the subject’s first impressions of Lexington and W&L, and their experiences connected to integration and/or coeducation.

Some interview subjects recalled negative experiences at Washington and Lee, such as a white boyfriend’s reluctance to escort his black girlfriend on the homecoming court, or white professors taking advantage of a black employee’s intellect and work ethic while denying him the respect and upward mobility he deserved. But Lorick said she was surprised to find that the interviews were, for the most part, positive.

“It ended up being more positive than I expected,” she said. “Interview subjects do not forget about the bad, but they are better able to remember the good.”

Related: Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Joey Jennings overcame racism and poverty to become a top scholar/athlete at Winthrop University

Lorick said she also had to work through some disappointment over the lack of detail provided about segregation in Lexington, particularly about the relationships between white and black citizens. “When the first individual told me that there was nothing more to say, I thought, there has to be! But as I began to unravel the project a little bit more, I thought more about what segregation must have looked like, and in the end they were totally right. They didn’t really know their neighbors, and that was just the culture.”

Recording these views and closing even the smallest gaps in W&L’s institutional history has been fulfilling, Lorick said. As a first-year student, she was frustrated by the lack of black perspectives in the archives; now, through her work as an upperclassman, she will be directly responsible for changing other students’ experiences.

“I thought that W&L wasn’t making a big enough effort to cover the staff, faculty, students and alumni. When I came upon this project, I knew that there was a choice that I had to make and it was exciting and thrilling. I get to go through these archives all the time and I see the people who have recorded history. This time, I’ll be the one recording history.”

Digging Deeper
One requirement of the ACS grant was that each of the four colleges incorporate findings into a course. At W&L, that course was “Race, Memory, Nation,” a first-year Fall Term writing seminar taught by Assistant English Professor Ricardo Wilson. Wilson spent considerable time with Bufkin and Lorick in Special Collections over the summer to develop the course, which delved into issues of race, integration and civil rights.

another photo showing MaKayla Lorick at work

MaKayla Lorick gets ready to conduct an interview as Professor Ricardo Wilson and his students look on. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

With guidance from Lorick and Wilson, the students conducted research and selected topics about which they were required to produce video essays as final projects in the course. The four groups decided to focus on integration in athletics, coeducation, and two pivotal moments in W&L history: the 1923 football game against Washington and Jefferson University, and the board of trustees’ 1961 decision to not invite Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at W&L.

The group that focused on integration in athletics secured on-camera interviews with four former W&L athletes, including its first African-American athlete, Dennis Haston ’70. Haston, who ran track and field, and former basketball player Eugene Perry ’75, ‘78L, recounted upsetting incidents both on and off campus. In one example, Perry was invited by a coach to try out for the basketball team, only to find out the team had already been selected and jerseys had been ordered. But the men said they also found allies at W&L, including white fellow athletes.

“At the time when I came to W&L, I didn’t come to W&L to be a pioneer. But now if people look at me, they want to say, ‘You were a pioneer.’” Haston said. “I was one of the first ones to … open the door for other African-Americans to come. Maybe because of me doing that, it has made it easier for other students to come. I’m glad I had the opportunity. If I had to live my life over again, I would still do it. I have no regrets about the decision I made.”

Related: Read MaKayla Lorick’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Biography here.

The hours of raw interview footage collected by Wilson’s students has been sent to Special Collections, where it will bolster Lorick’s contributions and strengthen the university’s overall archive of materials related to desegregation and integration. Wilson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees as positive strides toward confronting some of the university’s most difficult history and smoothing the way for future students of color.

“In general in the U.S., we have a tough time confronting our history, and W&L is certainly at a critical moment where I think there is great possibility,” he said. “It is also something we have to approach carefully because we have a chance to set the tone and make an example, not only in the region but also to other academic institutions.

“How fortunate we are to have someone like MaKayla Lorick, with a blend of extraordinary talent and extraordinary passion,” he said. “To have someone like her involved in this project is a good first step.”

Next Steps
MaKayla Lorick plans to present her findings during Black Alumni Reunion weekend (March 8-9). She also has received a Johnson Opportunity Grant for summer 2019, which will allow her to gather more oral histories and develop a digital exhibit. She has begun to share her findings on her project website. As she prepares to graduate in December 2019, she will hand off the project to other students. One, Rose Hein ’22, has already been awarded a summer research scholar position to contribute to the ACS project.

Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives at W&L, helps students in Professor Ricardo Wilson’s class, “Race, Memory, Nation,” as they begin research for their final projects. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

“Our hope is that this material and some of these questions will continue to be integrated into the classroom so students can be exposed and they can continue to work,” Bufkin said. “I think we are really excited to have this material support student-driven projects…It is a very collaborative effort. Nobody owns it or has a single direction.”

For MaKayla Lorick, what started as a two-month summer gig grew into an experience that she says “has really shaped me, has made me stronger, and has made me think that in a couple of years the university will truly be better.” She hopes that her daughter, Zara, 2, will someday become a General and will see her mother’s name on documents in university archives — a very different experience from her own.

“I can’t even imagine how that would have felt for me to see my mom’s name recording histories,” she said. “I hope that she can have that experience and she can know that anything is possible, that you can touch the stars and that you can be a history maker, and you can be on the right side of history, too.”

This story has been adapted slightly from the original version appearing on the Washington and Lee University website.

Campus Recycling Program Makes Comeback at Saint Leo University

After shutting down its campus recycling program a few years ago due to contaminated bins, Sullivan Foundation partner school Saint Leo University is moving heavily into recycling again, the university announced recently.

The University Senate’s Environmental Committee, along with Facilities and Dining Services, has reinstated the campus recycling program with a mission to provide a clean, safe and healthy environment for everyone. “Its vision is to be forward-thinking in its implementation of net positive projects, contributing more than is taken and aspiring to have a broad positive effect that goes beyond reducing the university’s environmental impact,” Saint Leo University said in the announcement.

Related: How did one of America’s greenest campuses get so green?

The campus recycling program had to be discontinued a few years ago due to costly fines for contaminated recycling bins. Saint Leo was fined $10,000 for each recycling bin contaminated with food or other non-recyclable waste.

Pizza boxes are a common culprit in the contamination of campus recycling bins. “If there is even one piece of pizza in one box in a recycling dumpster, the entire container is considered contaminated and none of the material inside can be recycled,” the university noted.

Between January and October 2019, Saint Leo University took a number of steps to get back into the recycling groove. In January, students were hired through the federal work-study program to assist with University Campus recycling collections. Additionally, all of the paper products used by Dining Services are now biodegradable, and paper straws are used as often as possible except when they cannot be sourced.

Related: Sullivan Foundation offers Summer 2020 study-abroad opportunity in Scotland

Saint Leo’s Dining Services also now turns meat and vegetable scraps into stocks and soups or gives them to local farmers as feed for their animals.

Altogether, the university recycled 17 tons of material between January and October, including 1.7 tons of paper, 0.85 tons of plastic, 0.68 tons of aluminum and 13.77 tons of cardboard.

The university notes that its recycling efforts have conserved resources, saving 34,809 kilowatt hours of electricity; 206 mature trees; 108,290 gallons of water; 67 cubic yards of landfill airspace; and three metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

This story was adapted from the original article appearing on the Saint Leo University website.

Furman University Wins Award for Green Buildings

Sullivan Foundation partner school Furman University received a Sustainable Business Award from the U.S. Green Building Council Carolinas (USGBC Carolinas) for its innovative, high-performance, green buildings constructed with sustainability in mind.

The announcement was made Dec. 5 during the USGBC Carolinas: Green Gala & Sustainable Business Awards, which was held at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The award recognizes excellence in high-performance design, environmental stewardship and community impact. It highlights the green building initiatives and achievements of local projects, businesses and individual leaders.

Related: Duke University student turns trash into stunning sustainable art.

“As an academic institution we strive to train the next generation of community change agents, who are poised to make real impact in their communities, particularly around sustainability issues,” said Wes Dripps, executive director of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability. “The need for systems thinkers and change agents is great and will continue to increase. We are truly honored to receive this leadership award and recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council and look forward to working with the USGBC in furthering our collective sustainability efforts on campus and in the community.”

Furman has garnered numerous awards over the last decade, including a gold STARS rating, a top 10 national ranking among baccalaureate institutions and a National Campus Sustainability Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), among others.

this photo shows an example of sustainability initiatives at Furman, receiver of a green buildings award

In addition to its award-winning green buildings, Furman’s six-acre solar farm is moving the campus closer to carbon neutrality.

The Shi Center for Sustainability promotes the study and practice of sustainability on campus and in the community. Along with its emphasis on green buildings, the center’s reach includes:

  • Shi Center Student Fellows program where students engage in sustainability research and action around campus and community-based sustainability projects. Shi Center Fellows have partnered with more than 30 local organizations.
  • Community Conservation Corps (CCC), a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Piedmont Natural Gas, provides free weatherization services to low-income homeowners.
  • Partnership with United Way of Greenville County to assess gentrification in the county, and a collaborative study with the City of Greenville Community Development office to evaluate zoning as a barrier to high-density residential development.
  • A 6-acre solar farm, the largest on a South Carolina college campus, is moving Furman toward carbon neutrality. It is open to the public for those interested in learning about solar power generation. A small herd of sheep onsite helps control grasses around the panels.
  • The Furman Farm, which is open to the public, is a quarter-acre organic garden with a comprehensive composting program.

“Our strategy for designing and operating our campus facilities in the most efficient and sustainable manner possible has led to the use and adoption of many innovative technologies in our built environment,” said Jeff Redderson, Furman’s assistant vice president of facilities. “We appreciate the USGBC for its leadership and for recognizing our sustainability efforts both on and off campus.”

Related: This bioplastics entrepreneur is helping save the world from plastic waste.

Reducing Carbon Emissions: Duke Professor Recommends Strategy to Break Political Stalemate

Reducing carbon emissions is essential to the planet’s future, but politics has long stood in the way. Tim Profeta of Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University proposed a solution to break the political stalemate on climate change in testimony before a U.S House of Representatives subcommittee in early December.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Profeta, the director of Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, recommended a model for addressing climate change that has worked for other environmental challenges: a federal/state partnership. He proposed that the federal government establish targets for reducing carbon emissions while empowering states to craft their own plans to meet those requirements.

Related: The pivotal role of youth fighting climate change

“There is no reason that such a federal/state partnership cannot work to address climate change as it has in numerous instances before,” Profeta wrote in his prepared testimony to the House subcommittee. “Given the political uncertainty of our ability to achieve any other alternatives, the urgency of climate change demands that we consider it as the path of least resistance to achieve our climate objectives.”

As the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, Profeta noted in an op-ed for The Hill, the U.S. is “fundamental to that solution … Yet despite some positive steps, U.S. emissions increased rapidly in 2018, in the face of warnings that emissions should be cut by 45 percent worldwide by 2030 to avoid worst-case scenarios.”

this photo shows young protesters calling for reducing carbon emissions in the environment

Young people around the world support reducing carbon emissions to fight climate change, but politics has stood in the way for decades. Photo by Li An Lim, Unsplash

“Meanwhile,” Profeta added in The Hill article, “political resistance has blocked the solution many economists favor: a single federal price on carbon, set through a cap-and-trade program or carbon fee.”

As an alternative, the federal government could set targets for reducing carbon emissions and let individual states meet the goals in their own ways.

“I propose using a federal-state partnership to attack climate change akin to the cooperative federalist approach that permeates much of our legal code,” Profeta told Duke Today. “In such a system, the federal government would set greenhouse gas goals for each state to ensure that all 50 states are moving forward. It would leave it to state governments, which are more directly accountable to their communities, to execute plans to reach those goals.

Related: How to have a more sustainable Christmas in 2019

This approach to reducing carbon emissions, he added, “allows leadership by states, which are more in touch with their people’s needs, avoids the specter of big federal government growth that other proposals suggest, and captures the momentum of state leadership on climate change that has been the biggest area of climate success in the past decade.”

He said this federal/state partnership model has already worked for education, policing and health care. “In environmental law, it is similarly common, for instance with national water permitting programs run through the states,” Profeta told Duke Today. “But the most direct comparison is with the Clean Air Act, where the EPA sets national standards for air quality but each state develops plans to reach those ambitions.  The Clean Air Act has been one of our most successful environmental statutes, dramatically cleaning the air over the past 50 years in a period of robust economic growth.”

Letting states, both red and blue, develop their own strategies for reducing carbon emissions would sidestep political conflicts, allowing states to “design policies that fit with their culture and economies,” Profeta wrote in The Hill. “States that already lead on climate change could align behind this proposal, while states that have been less aggressive would get flexibility on how to develop their own plans,” such as cap-and-trade systems, carbon taxes and other options.

According to the Nicholas Institute, more than 40 nations have implemented a carbon tax or trading system. In the U.S., California uses an economy-wide carbon cap-and-trade program. States in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, meanwhile, have formed a utility-sector trading regime called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“State governments have provided politically acceptable solutions to many societal problems through our country’s history,” Profeta concluded in The Hill. “We should embrace their role in the climate fight. This may be the best bet for success on one of our most dire and pressing societal challenges.”

University of the Cumberlands Collects 21,764 Pounds of Food for Local Pantries

The University of the Cumberlands, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, collected 21,764 pounds of non-perishable food items for local pantries during its annual holiday food drive last month, exceeding last year’s total by more than 7,000 pounds.

“Getting to make a huge impact on local foodbanks is always an exciting thing to do,” said Emily Coleman, vice president of student services at Cumberlands. “It ties in with our desire to put our faith into action. Besides, it is also really fun!”

Food banks that received the donations included First Baptist Church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Shriners Hill Church, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, and the Williamsburg Independent School District backpack program.

Coleman said Cumberlands focused on providing “full, quality meals” for families. Student Services set food-specific campus donation goals each week to help ensure the campus community would donate items that help meet dietary needs. For instance, one week’s goal was green beans, another week was devoted to pasta, and another to canned or dried beans.

Before the annual food drive begins, Student Services always calls food banks in the area to find out which foods they need most. That feedback determines which items Cumberlands focuses on collecting. Norma Dunston, who runs the First Baptist Church food pantry in Williamsburg, Ky., gave an example of this on the day Cumberlands students unloaded the donations at First Baptist.

“I’m watching the green beans and corn come in,” Dunston said, “and we actually didn’t run out of either of those until just this summer from the Cumberlands food drive two years ago. Now, you’re replenishing that. This is so exciting!”

Cumberlands took a multifaceted approach to the food drive. Though they rely in part on donations delivered by the campus community directly to the Office of Student Services, they also collect monetary donations. The Student Services staff then organizes bulk food purchases. On the final day of the food drive, they drove trucks to local grocery stores to pick up more than 3,000 cans of food. Coleman said the office “tries to stretch a dollar the furthest” in these purchases in order to have a bigger impact on food banks.

Around Christmastime, pantries see an increase in the number of families needing food. Especially since many local children receive lunches (and sometimes breakfasts) from their schools, their families need even more food than usual when children are home during Christmas break.

“This food drive is something foodbanks have come to rely on to stock their shelves during these cold months,” Coleman said. “The pantries are always thrilled to have their shelves stocked, which is great, because we’re thrilled to do it!”

Students at Cumberlands get involved in the food drive through donating canned goods or unloading the food on the final day of the drive. The Patriots track and field team worked together at First Baptist Church this year, unloading trucks and stocking shelves.

“I think it’s great to see the behind-the-scenes of this and learn what goes into it. It’s important to give back to the community you’re part of,” said junior runner Lauren McHan.

Alex Kluckhi, an assistant running coach, said the coaches wanted the team to do something to “help out and give back to the community” and said they were “very fortunate” to have the opportunity.

“I hope the team takes away the knowledge that being a student-athlete is more than just representing your school,” Kluchki said. “Your role as a student-athlete is bigger than just what you do on the track or in the classroom. There is also a community we represent.”

The team definitely stayed busy as the donations poured in. Norma Dunston directed traffic as the students walked in and out, in and out of the church.

“This is so exciting! … And it looks heavy,” Dunston laughed as the athletes hauled large boxes of food into the building. “This is really thrilling. All I can think of is everything I won’t have to order now. Wait,” she said, waving down a student. “Ramen noodles go back there, please, for our backpack ministry.”

She glanced around the room. “We’re not going to have enough space,” she said. “Maybe we should line the rest up along that wall. We’ll make the men’s Sunday school class look at it. It’ll build their character,” she laughed.

University of the Cumberlands thanked the partners that helped make this year’s food drive a success: The Dance Centre, Save A Lot, Flowers Bakery, IGA, Williamsburg Independent School District, Whitley County Schools.

This story was edited slightly from the original article on the Cumberlands website.