As an institution of higher education, West Chester University’s primary roles in meeting the challenges of sustainability and climate change are to educate, conduct research, and provide public service. Through these efforts we have an opportunity to instill the knowledge and values of sustainability within our campus and community. At West Chester University, we promote the stewardship of an Earth on which life flourishes into a future of increasing prosperity and opportunity, without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations of humans and other life. Sustainability requires an understanding of the inter-connected relationship of environmental, societal, and economic issues and resources at both the local and global levels. West Chester University graduates will be prepared to transform their understanding of those connections into a life-long commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible local and global citizenship.
Sustainability is dependent on nature and humanity co-existing in interdependence. The Hannover Principles below represent the basic doctrine of a sustainable culture.
- Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.
- Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.
- Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.
- Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist.
- Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.
- Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.
- Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.
- Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.
- Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.
William McDonough, Michael Braungart “The Hannover Principles Design for Sustainability” (1992)
Read more about WCU sustainability in WCU magazine Summer - 2010 .
The Brandywine Projects, held throughout the year, are a wonderful way to for WCU community members to engage in conversation and learn more about campus sustainability. The Brandywine Projects are organized as half day sustainability workshops for faculty, staff, and students with the ulitmate goal of incorporating sustainability into every aspect of campus life. These workshops generally include presentations about what West Chester has done in the past to reach their sustainable goals as well as what plans are set for the future. Interactive breakout sessions occur throughout the workshop to get participants networking, brainstorming, and discussing different topics that are directly relevant to our local campus community and environment, integrating the local and the global. In January of 2019, the very first Brandywine Project Alumni Summit was held, bringing together a collection of past participants to work together on a collective project. Find below the dates for upcoming workshops and register!
Brandywine Project Staff Workshop in Sustainability
WCU staff members participated in the second virtual Brandywine Project Staff Sustainability Workshop this past Fall semester October 29 and 30, 2020. The next virtual workshop is being planned for the Spring 2021 semester. Keep checking back for dates and registration information!
All WCU staff members – from any office, department, or division on campus – are encouraged to participate.
The workshops are facilitated by WCU staff and faculty, and the program includes interactive workshop sessions, networking opportunities, a virtual campus sustainability tour, and time to socialize in the morning and when each day’s sessions end. Faculty and students are welcome too!
Integrating sustainable theories and practices into the curriculum at WCU is critical to expanding sustainable practices. Investing time into educating students, faculty and staff will produce long-lasting results long after alumni have left the campus. Below are materials for teaching about sustainability that have been developed by WCU faculty, staff, students, and affiliated community members.
Richard Whiteford, Climate Reality Project and community member of the WCU Sustainability Advisory Council, on the urgent need to address rising carbon dioxide levels in the Journal of Earth Science & Climate Change, “Why CO2 Levels should be the Issue of Critical Concern as Opposed to Putting Economic Concerns at the Top”
WCU Research Guide: A research guide for Environmental Sustainability from West Chester University Libraries
Dr. Paul Morgan, Professional & Secondary Education, Speeding Toward Paris, Emissions Accomplished?
“This may be the last best chance to reach a global agreement to reduce emissions enough to avoid overshooting the target of a two degrees Celsius average rise in global surface temperature above preindustrial levels. Beyond that number we invite ‘climageddon.’”
TEDx Talk by Dr. Paul Morgan, Professional & Secondary Education How Postmodern Humans Can Wake Up and Find Their Groove.
Interested in learning more about sustainability? Students have a wide variety of options to choose from at WCU, ranging from formal degree programs to general-interest courses. Sustainability is not centralized in one academic department on campus, so students are encouraged to contact the specific department offering the program of particular interest.
View a full list of all of the sustainability courses that West Chester offers.
- Biology - Ecology and Conservation
- Education for Sustainability
- Environmental Health
- Nutrition - Sustainable Food Systems Management
- Geography and Planning - Environmental Geography
- Minor in Sustainability and Resilience
- Applied Community and Environmental Sustainability (ACES) Minor
Additional Programs for Students Interested in Careers in the Environmental Field
Faculty Research on Sustainability-Focused Topics at WCU
Below you will find a link to an inventory documenting full and part-time faculty members at West Chester University who conducted research related to one or more of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals between the fall semester of 2018 and the end of summer sessions of 2019. These 73 faculty members represent 29 separate academic departments on campus and collectively are addressing research questions related to most of the 17 SDGs. Information for this inventory was collected by an electronic survey distributed to all 980 full‐ and part‐ time faculty in September 2019 by WCU's Office of Sustainability working in collaboration with Professors Lisa Calvano (Management) and Joan Welch (Geography & Planning).
Find the full list of faculty research projects addressing the UN SDGs here .
Digital Commons - WCU Campus Sustainability Initiatives
Passionate faculty and students at WCU seek to use their research to understand and appreciate how the natural world and humanity can co-exist. A collection of reports, presentations, and surveys can now be found on the Digital Commons Sustainability Research and Creative Activities page, showcasing their hardwork and dedication. You can access the 2018 Commuter and Parking Survey, previous proposals for the Sustainability Research and Creative Activities Grant, The WCU Landscape Master Plan, as well as data from a mapping project on the invasive species, the Spotted Lantern Fly, in the Gordon Natural Area. If you have a report, poster, or presentation you would like to add to this collection, please contact Walter Cressler, Department of University Libraries.
WCU Campus Sustainability Research and Creative Activities Grant
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at West Chester University sponsors a Campus Sustainability Research and Creative Activities Grant each year with a Request for Proposals released in the early Spring semester with the Award Cycle extending from March 1st to June 30th of that same year. In the most recent grant application cycle, accessible through WCU’s InfoReady website, grants of up to $2,000 (a total $8,000 available) were solicited. Notice of the release of the annual Request for Proposals is made via email messages to all faculty and via Office of Sustainability email bulletins.
Sustainability Research and Practice Seminar
Join us this Spring 2021 semester as we welcome a new round of scholars and practitioners across a variety of disciplines as they present their research and practical applications of sustainability at this virtual seminar, streaming live weekly, via Zoom. Below you'll find the full schedule of presentations for the Spring series. The Sustainability Research and Practice Seminar is hosted every Wednesday from 12 pm to 12:50 pm during the Fall and Spring semesters. Students, faculty, and community members are welcome. In addition, you can enjoy recorded versions of many of these, and past presentations on the Digital Commons website by following this link.
Schedule of Speakers - Spring 2021
2/3 Liz Carper, Instructor/Counselor WCU Counseling & Psychological Services - Connecting in a Socially Distant World
2/10 Professor Megan Schraedley, Communications and Media - Teaching Transition:
Organizing Sustainably through Service-Learning
2/17 Professor Joan Welch, Geography and Planning, and Michael Dunn, Consulting Municipal Arborist, West Chester Borough - West Chester Borough Urban Forest: An Environmental Benefit For All
2/24 John Lattanze, WCU Energy Project Manager - The Sustainability Impacts of
WCU Building Energy Use Management
3/3 Steve Sassaman, Interim Associate Director for the Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, Michael Sofis, Senior Scientist at Advocates for Human Potential, Inc., and Scott Ramsey, Associate Faculty, Prescott College - Effective Climate Change Communication Strategies in the [M]anthropocene
3/10 Professor Gopal Sankaran, Public Health - COVID-19 and Sustainable Development Goals: The Pandemic, Politics, and the Road Ahead
3/24 Professor Martin Helmke, Earth & Space Sciences, Abigail Keebler, B.S. Geoscience 2021, and Patricia Haug, M.S. Geoscience 2020 - WCU’s Geoexchange System, Stream Salinization, and Heated Sidewalks: Exercises in Sustainable Connections
3/31 Professor Kathryn (Tina) Alessandria, Counselor Education - Dogs, Stress, and Tests, Oh My! A Wellness Program for Students Taking a High Stakes Test
4/7 Shannon Gillespie, Assistant Director, Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, Nick Marcil, M.S. Higher Education Policy & Student Affairs 2022, Maeve Dowd, B.S. Urban & Environmental Planning 2022, and McKenna Kovatch, B.S. Biochemistry 2022 - Creating Community Connections On & Off Campus: RamCorps
4/14 Professor Melanie Vile, Environmental Health - The Impact of Oil Sands Mining on Peatland Ecosystems in Alberta, Canada
4/21 Professor Martha Donkor, History and Women’s and Gender Studies - Women, Globalization, Migration, and Work
4/28 Yu-Shien Ni, Post-Landfill Action Network Atlas Program, Andrew James, M.S. Higher Education Policy & Student Affairs 2021, and Grace Bowden, B.A., Communication Studies 2021 - Beyond Recycling: A Progress Report on WCU’s Ongoing Zero Waste Assessment
Stream Live via Zoom!
Meeting ID: 948 1214 3774