St. Lawrence announces the creation of a new Center for the Environment that will empower the next generation of leaders to develop the skills necessary—through education, advocacy, and action—to be agents of change in their communities and around the world.
“St. Lawrence University’s Center for the Environment will leverage our unique location nestled between the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence River, with our campus in Canton, our conference center on Upper Saranac Lake, and our compound in Nairobi, Kenya,” said President Kathryn A. Morris. “It will be for all our students, regardless of major. Our students care deeply about the future of the planet and its inhabitants and are eager for more opportunities to make a positive impact in addressing environmental problems through their work as scholars, professionals, and engaged global citizens.”
Our students care deeply about the future of the planet and its inhabitants and are eager for more opportunities to make a positive impact in addressing environmental problems through their work as scholars, professionals, and engaged global citizens.”
–President Kathryn Morris
Establishing a Center for the Environment at St. Lawrence is a strategic priority outlined by President Morris, who convened an interdisciplinary task force of faculty, staff, trustees, students, and administrators that has been working since January to develop the vision for the Center and to hire an executive director to lead it.
A national search has been launched for a leader who will oversee experiential programs, student development, and sustainability efforts, while coordinating community engagement. An advisory committee comprising alumni, parents, and friends with relevant expertise will also play a continuing role in the Center. More than $2.5 million has already been raised to support new initiatives to add to a robust slate of environmental programs and activities at St. Lawrence that will be unified and amplified within the Center for the Environment.
Some of the University’s existing programs include: the Outdoor Program, which educates students in outdoor leadership and skills, instills an environmental ethic, and empowers students through outdoor and wilderness exploration and experiences; the Outdoor Studies minor, which includes the opportunity for students to live off the grid in a yurt village in the Adirondack Semester; and the University’s 50-year-old Kenya Semester Program, through which students learn about the culture, environment, and development of East Africa while living and studying on the University’s compound in the suburbs of Nairobi, through home stays with local families and internships.
In 2013, St. Lawrence added an environmental literacy requirement to its curriculum. There are more than 70 courses that satisfy this requirement. In each one, students explore the consequences of human impact on natural systems and grow their awareness of the cultural, economic, and political forces that affect environmental policies. As a result, students better their understanding of natural systems as well as the way climate impacts the environment and human health. And St. Lawrence has been recognized for efforts to make sustainability an integral practice in all aspects of campus life—from the residence halls to academic programs, transportation, and dining.
“Our Center for the Environment will benefit from the deep engagement of our faculty and staff,” said Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs Alison Del Rossi, who co-chaired the environmental center task force. “They bring technical, policy, and advocacy expertise on a wide range of topics, including climate change, energy, conservation, sustainability, environmental justice, outdoor leadership, and the sciences.”
New initiatives of the Center for the Environment for the coming year include:
- Environmental Scholars Program–Scholarships for qualified first-year students with special opportunities, including a pre-orientation trip and First-Year Program courses with environmental themes.
- Green Internship Fellowships–Stipends for students engaging in unpaid or underpaid professional opportunities within the environmental sector.
- Green Innovation Grants–Provide funding to undergraduate students who create projects that improve energy use, reduce waste and increase recycling/composting on campus, and otherwise contribute to improving our campus environment and lower our environmental impact.
- Develop an Environmental Fellows program and launch co-curricular, skills-based, and leadership opportunities to achieve an Environmental Distinction.
“St. Lawrence University is poised to be a leader among small liberal arts colleges and universities through this initiative,” said Trustee Kathleen Perkins Colson ’79, co-chair of the environmental center task force. “Our Center for the Environment builds on decades of impactful scholarship and experiential programs, and will offer an innovative approach to understanding and addressing the most pressing concerns of our world.”